Review: GreenEdge Reef Soft Touch Cases for iPod touch & iPhone
As we've mentioned in prior iLounge reviews, it's extremely easy for a brand new iPod or iPhone accessory company to emerge out of nowhere with new products; all you need to have is some cash and a Chinese factory with existing products that it's willing to rebrand with your logo. Such is apparently the case with GreenEdge's Reef-branded cases for iPod touch ($25) and iPhone ($30), the rear packaging for which features two things: the words Made in China, and a Greenedgeproducts.com URL that at press time does not lead to an actual web site. But does that mean these are bad cases?
No. The Reef cases are identical to earlier CoverCase cases we reviewed for the iPhone, except for one difference: they’re coated with a metallic lustred “soft touch” material that feels slightly rubbery and pops visually by comparison with the standard glossy finishes of most iPod and iPhone hard cases. Each case has integrated button coverage and a flip-out stand that lets you view widescreen videos or navigate in Cover Flow mode, while the iPhone version has appropriate cutouts for all of the device’s special features, as well. Unfortunately, though the iPod touch version does fit into Universal Docks, it has a too-small headphone port hole that will require a small adapter if you’re using headphone plugs bigger than Apple’s; the iPhone case’s top and bottom holes are more generously sized.
When we reviewed the CoverCase iPhone version of this case, which originally sold for $17 and now sells for $20, we noted that we were impressed by the extent of device coverage and the utility of the flip-out video stand. GreenEdge doesn’t include a screen protector in its boxes, which detracts a bit from our rating, but otherwise does a really nice job of covering the iPod touch and iPhone. Though we’re still not fans of the iPhone’s integrated, non-detachable rear belt clip, the iPod touch version of the case doesn’t have the belt clip feature or the corresponding awkwardness. We prefer the slimmer, simpler design.
The major problem here is the quality of the soft touch rubber that’s on the cases. After only a couple of days of use, the texture becomes blemished in a variety of ways, including parts where a silver metallic surface shows through, and other parts that are black, showing the plastic underneath the rubber spray. Like the CoverCase cases, you get the feeling that these are inexpensively made cases that needed a bit more time in the quality control and testing departments before leaving the factory. Soft touch rubber has appeared in cases for a couple of years, and is now beginning to show up in battery packs and speakers as well, but keeping the coating durable appears to be a relatively common concern.
Resilience issues might have been par for the course at half the price, but the iPhone version of Reef sells for a $10 premium over the CoverCase glossy plastic iteration, and the iPod touch one sells for $25—a little less, but still not low enough to forgive the paint issues. Because of their pricing, lack of front protection, and the way that they quickly wear down under normal use, both cases miss our general level recommendation; more resilient and protective versions could be worthy of similar prices.