Review: Griffin Nu Form Hard-Shell Case 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.
Two of Griffin’s iPhone 3G cases are basically identical to one another except for two things—external materials and pricing. This review covers Griffin’s Nu Form for iPhone 3G ($25), an all-plastic case, while a separate review covers the more expensive Elan Form for iPhone 3G, which grafts leather onto a highly similar plastic shell.
Unlike last year’s Griffin cases, which snapped together and came apart vertically on the sides, both of these cases appear to have been inspired by Incase’s line of Slider cases for the iPhone and iPod touch, and now separate horizontally at around the 3/5 points on their backs. This two-piece design lets the bottom piece slide off so that you can dock the iPhone in Apple’s device-specific iPhone 3G Dock—a part that’s no longer included in the iPhone’s box, and therefore less likely to be in a given user’s arsenal of accessories.
Regardless, each case is designed with an open bottom, providing full access to the speaker, microphone, and Dock Connector down there, as well as full compatibility with Apple’s Universal Dock standard. Griffin has also left the top of each case open, for a fully compatible headphone port and Sleep/Wake button use. While the majority of cables will fit the bottom hole just fine, it’s not oversized, so thick Connectors and full-bottom accessories may have issues. The side controls, and camera, are fully left open.
Nu Form is sold in two versions. One is substantially white with a light gray bottom, and the other is mostly medium gray with a black bottom. Each has a small floating box graphic on the back, and comes with a non-adhesive, rigid clear plastic screen protector and a black cleaning cloth. We’re not big fans of the screen protector, which fits but slightly diminishes iPhone 3G screen sensitivity relative to static peel films we have tested in the past; Griffin views this as a “premium” option, but we don’t.
Overall, while Nu Form’s scope of protection is better than some of its early iPhone 3G peers thanks to the included screen protector, and both the styling and pricing of the case are appealing, it misses our high recommendation due to a few little things—the type of screen protector included, the slightly encumbered Dock Connector access, and slight omissions in side and top protection that have been remedied in other designs we’ve seen. That said, this is a very good, and to our eyes attractive case design; for the price, we would pick it over the Sliders we’ve previously tested without any question.
Updated Sept. 16, 2008: Griffin has released a modestly updated version of Nu Form with a soft touch rubber bottom rather than the matte plastic version originally shipped; photos are above.