Review: Griffin Reflect for iPhone
Since its release last June, the iPhone has seen the release of many hard plastic cases, with the majority crystal clear and others made from one or more opaque plastics. This month, two more hard plastic cases have appeared: Griffin's new Reflect for iPhone ($25) and Incase's Slider Case for iPhone ($35) are designed to serve the same general purpose, but approach protection and pricing from somewhat different ways.
It would be easy to write off both of these cases as relatively simplistic plastic shells: each company supplies you with two interlocking pieces that cover all of the iPhone’s back except for its camera, which is fully exposed, as well as all of its sides save for its top left controls, and the bezel around its touchscreen. Incase’s Slider comes in either glossy black or white, while Griffin’s Reflect ships with a mirror-finished faceplate and a black soft touch rubber back plate.
Judged solely by their plastic parts, these cases are roughly peers in protection. Griffin exposes the area between the top Sleep/Wake button and headphone port, as well as a little more around the bottom speaker and microphone, while Incase fills these parts in, but Incase leaves more of iPhone’s front exposed, and Griffin covers most of the area around the ear speaker and Home button. Significantly, however, Griffin includes a clear rectangular screen protector that covers most of the remainder of iPhone’s face, plus a microfiber cleaning cloth, while Incase leaves the iPhone’s face entirely exposed.
That difference in protection, as well as the $10 difference in price, are both factors weighing in Griffin’s favor here; too often, Incase seems to be charging a premium price for cases that don’t fully cover the iPhone. But there are a couple of other considerations here: Slider’s name refers to the fact that its two-piece shell makes docking and charging easy through a slide-off bottom panel that reveals only the iPhone’s antenna housing and Dock Connector, enabling the iPhone to fit into its packed-in Dock without having to remove the rest of the case. Incase’s glossy white design matches the color of Apple’s Dock, and this feature does work as expected, using thin pieces of interior rubber inside to prevent iPhone scuffing during insertion and removal of the shell. It’s not exactly a breakthrough feature, as SwitchEasy’s less expensive Capsule offers the same general features and a lot more pack-ins at a slightly lower price, but has some feel issues of its own.
Reflect, by comparison, is designed to have a fun mirrored surface for its front, similar to Griffin’s earlier Reflects for iPod nano and classic. Unfortunately, like Griffin’s earlier Reflect for iPod touch, so little of the front surface is reflective that you can’t really use the iPhone as a mirror; including a mirrored screen film would have easily enhanced this case’s appeal. Both cases are designed to provide full bottom access for accessories, including Universal Docks, and neither has an issue when connected to the iPhone accessories that have been released.
Overall, both Reflect and the Slider Case for iPhone are B-level cases, with Reflect rating higher based on its superior pricing and overall protection. Neither case does as much as it should for the iPhone, but both designs offer a little something different from offerings we’ve previously reviewed. Those thinking of Slider can also consider the SwitchEasy Capsule as a viable alternative, though we preferred the look and feel of Incase’s plastic, and the variety of pack-ins SwitchEasy offered for a lower price.