Review: Incipio Watson for iPhone 5/5c/5s
Getting in on the flip-style, wallet case game, Incipio has introduced Watson, in separate versions for iPhone 5/5s ($45) and iPhone 5c ($45). Both versions of the case share the same general structure, each shaped to fit their respective handsets. Under faux leather covers, you'll find removable plastic shells. Despite the similarities between the two cases, there are a few surprising differences in functionality that we wouldn't have expected, and they're enough to make one version of the case notably better than the other.
Both versions of the case start with a plastic backplate, with inlaid vegan leather. The material continues past the right edge of the case in a strip—a little over 2” tall on the 5c case versus 3.5” on the 5/5s edition—that then transforms into the front cover. The cover is reinforced with a sturdy material that helps hold its shape, and lined with microfiber on the inside. Each case has three credit card slots inside, and an elastic band sewn in to hold it shut.
The two Watsons situate their respective iPhones inside shells that can snap in and out of the covers as needed. They’re different from one another though; the iPhone 5/5s version has a matte finish, completely open top and bottom edges, and no button coverage, while the 5c case protects the volume buttons with plastic cutouts and adds a bit of extra plastic, shaped to the ports on the bottom edge. Notably, the volume buttons on the iPhone 5c case are accessible when the cover is closed, but they’re not on the 5/5s edition.
We found the biggest difference between the versions to be how, and how well, the shells snap in and out. The 5c case is held in place with five plastic clips, and it takes some effort to remove it—a good thing, as with a case like this, we’d rather be sure it stays in place. Unfortunately, there’s an issue with the iPhone 5/5s Watson; while it has the same number of attachment points, with two raised segments of plastic at each instead of just one, the shell comes out far too easily. Not only can it be lifted out with almost no effort, but it can actually fall out by itself if the case is held wrong or given a bit of a shake.
Clearly, Watson is a better case for iPhone 5c than iPhone 5/5s. For whatever reason, Incipio made small, but substantial, design decisions that affect the final product. The better of the two is strong enough to earn our general recommendation; it’s not our favorite wallet-style case, but the removable shell is really pretty cool. On the other hand, the iPhone 5/5s model is only worthy of a C+; we really can’t recommend a case where your iPhone may very well fall out during normal use. This is definitely a problem, and one that we hope Incipio addresses in future iterations.