Review: Griffin Elan Clip for iPhone 3G
Officially less than a week old, Apple's iPhone 3G already has its first collection of protective cases, designed to shield the device against scratch and scuff damage, as well as fingerprints and smudges. Today, we're doing brief reviews of the first dozen iPhone 3G cases, some of which are modestly redesigned versions of original iPhone designs, and others completely new to this device. This review covers Griffin's Elan Clip for iPhone 3G ($25).
We don’t have a lot to say about Elan Clip, which is essentially a renamed and modestly redesigned version of last year’s original iPhone holster, Elan Snap-In. The idea is the same—both cases are plastic holsters covered in leather, designed to let you wear your iPhone either horizontally or vertically at waist level with an integrated plastic belt clip. Griffin includes a static peel screen protector and a black cleaning cloth with Elan Clip, as well; the screen film is the only protection your iPhone will have when removed from the holster for use.
A couple of positive changes have been made to Elan Clip. The leather has changed from smooth to a heavily grainy texture, which actually looks nicer when you seen the case’s back. Additionally, the ratcheting belt clip has shifted from the arched, bulging prior version to a flatter style. It rotates through 180 degrees of motion in small steps, just in case you want to angle the iPhone on your belt at some odd orientation. You can also push the clip out to serve as a simple stand for widescreen video viewing; the nearly vertical viewing angle may or may not be fine, depending on where you’re sitting relative to the screen.
There are a couple of less positive changes, as well. Whereas last year’s model really showed off the leather on its front sides and bottom, Elan Clip’s redesign has left too little leather on the face, which made us wonder: given that this is designed to be worn at all times on a belt, is it even worth the effort or expense of coating the back and bottom corners with leather, given that most people won’t ever see the covered parts? Additionally, while Elan Clip now has a hard plastic clip at the top to hold the iPhone 3G in place even if the holster’s on its side or turned upside down for whatever reason, we feel squeamish every time we slide the iPhone out and over it; either padding or a less rigid design would have made us more comfortable.
Overall, we’re not big fans of the iPhone holster concept to begin with—we’d prefer to spend $25 on something that fully covers the iPhone, rather than requiring sliding in and sliding out—and though Elan Clip isn’t a bad implementation of the holster idea, it’s not a great or especially good one, either. Griffin’s choice to use better-looking leather in less conspicuous places makes Elan Clip look more like a plastic holster from the front than its predecessor, and though the belt clip stand and clip security are nice additions, they could use tweaks in a subsequent version. For now, Elan Clip is in our “okay” category, but unlike its predecessor, it may stand out from the iPhone 3G back solely by virtue of diminished competition this year.