Review: Core Cases Aluminum Swivel Case for 5G iPod
When it comes to aluminum iPod enclosures, Core Cases has been one of our favorite companies for years: its iPod shuffle and iPod nano cases set benchmarks for pricing, color, and design, and its first case for fifth-generation iPods (iLounge rating: B+) wasn't too shabby, either. Now Core has released the Aluminum Swivel Case for 5G iPods ($25), priced the same as its predecessor but with an interesting new feature: Swivel Case features a front lid that flips out and rotates backwards to become a rear stand for video viewing.
In short, Swivel Case is a good but not great design. Other than the hinged lid, Core has added two new items - a stick-on Click Wheel guard and a soft rubber Dock Connector plug - that make Swivel a little more protective in front and bottom than the prior Aluminum Case, and dropped two pack-ins - a detachable belt clip and lanyard - that decrease its versatility. Since the prior Aluminum Case hasn’t been discontinued, if you need belt clip or necklace options, it’s still there. Swivel Case is supposed to be an option for people who want to prop their iPods upright for video viewing.
To that end, we’ve seen a number of fabric and plastic iPod 5G cases with flip-open hinges, and Core’s metal and plastic hinge isn’t the best we’ve seen. On soft and stable hard surfaces, it does a fine job of keeping the iPod upright, but as it lacks any sort of locked-in ratcheting mechanism for its hinge, the case can slip out of your preferred position when you’re in a shaky environment, such as a plane or train. Core has built the hinge to naturally rest in one of two positions - an 80-degree recline or at the roughly 15-degree recline where the flap touches the case’s back - but a little motion can rustle the iPod more open than 15 degrees, and possibly flat on its back out of the 80-degree one. A sturdier design would have been better.
As with most of its cases, Core has tried hard to come up with the slimmest possible metal body, and did so here at a slight expense. Rather than using two pieces that slide into and lock with one another, the case’s front and back pieces now connect with each other only at two small pinhead-sized notches on the bottom left and right sides. We found the notches weren’t super tight to begin with, and rapidly became more loose over a few weeks of testing. Though the case doesn’t spontaneously pop open, it doesn’t feel ideally shut when closed, an issue for which we deducted a point under fit and finish.
Similarly, while the case’s front protectiveness increased, the rear protectiveness decreased, with a large hole added to the case’s back for easier iPod removal. Core’s decision to include a Dock Connector port plug provides partial but not complete protection of the 5G’s bottom surface, only a half-step in the right direction.
On more positive notes, we didn’t see scratches in our sample case’s body after extended use, and only light ones were noticeable in the screen protector. Core’s headphone port hole is also more generously sized than before - fine for larger headphone plugs.
Overall, Core’s Swivel Case is a fine alternative to its prior Aluminum Case, but not definitively better or worse. We liked its thickness, and the added protection that its Click Wheel protector affords, but disliked its somewhat loose hinge and more open back surface. If you want a case with a decent video stand and don’t mind losing belt clip and lanyard options, consider this a good option for the price, but additional tweaking would have made Swivel excellent.