Review: Incase Sports Armband for iPhone 5
iPods -- and even iPhones -- have become essential workout partners for many athletes over the past decade. Numerous accessories have been released to let users easily wear Apple's pocket devices, most notably including armbands. Today, we're looking at three recently released armbands for the iPhone 5, the last of which also supports the fifth-generation iPod touch: Belkin's Ease-Fit Armband ($20), Incase's Sports Armband ($40), and XtremeMac's Sportwrap LED ($80). Despite the considerable price differences, their basic features are the same; Sportwrap LED is the only one with a truly unique feature.
Selling for twice the price of Belkin’s offering, Sports Armband’s construction and materials are typically Incase, and quite nice. The setup is pretty standard: the armband is made from a neoprene-like material, with a front pocket that holds the phone with a touch-through clear plastic cover, and the back has a Velcro-equipped adjustable band. The bottom has a single hole for the headphone port. Otherwise, your iPhone is completely sealed up thanks to a flap that holds it in place once it’s been inserted through the top slot, a fact that’ll certainly appeal to sweatier exercisers. It only comes in black, but the armband is highlighted with reflective silver highlights for safety.
At just over 17” in length, Sports Armband is a little better suited to fit a wider assortment of athletes than Ease-Fit Armband. It’s also ventilated, a feature that allows your arm to breathe a bit more easily. Users will have to deal with the fact that the plastic screen protector is raised above the iPhone’s glass display, requiring them to push with more force. Otherwise, it’s a clean looking design and feels very nice; a bit fancier than Belkin’s Ease-Fit Armband, but also non-trivially more expensive.
Of the three armbands here, Belkin’s Ease-Fit Armband is easily the best value but it comes with a caveat; users with large arms won’t be able to use it comfortably or at all. Still, it’s a well-constructed armband, and the most affordable of the bunch. If the stated diameter is enough to fit you, we’d strongly recommend it, given the design and price. Sports Armband is also quite nice, and has a couple of added features that merit a general recommendation—that said, it’s a little too expensive, given how much of the same experience you’d get from Ease-Fit for half the price. We’d suggest Sports Armband for users with larger but not huge arms. Finally, there’s Sportwrap LED. The high price restricts its appeal quite a bit; most users will be fine off with either of the other options, and could use the spare $40 or $60 to buy a new reflective shirt to run in. Yet users who frequently find themselves walking or running at night might find the illuminating feature worthwhile. As such, it earns a limited recommendation.