Review: Innopocket Magnesium Case for iPod mini
Pros: Highly attractive plastic and magnesium iPod mini case available in your choice of five colors; stylish and resilient rear component includes metal belt clip nub.
Cons: Dock Connector port way too small, no top protective lip or Click Wheel protection, so you’ll need to buy your own protectors or risk scratch damage.
After an extended season that saw case after case released for the iPod mini, the fever has died down a bit in recent days, shining the spotlight brighter on those few new mini cases that have emerged. Metal case maker Innopocket has just released a series of five new hard cases for the mini ($29.99 each), with sculpted magnesium metal on their backs and hard transparent plastic on their fronts and bottoms. The simple name: “Magnesium Case for Apple iPod mini.” They’re now distributed by Pacific Rim Technologies.
On first glance, these cases look like little more than a stylized version of Matias’ existing Clear iPod Armor mini, which also used a metal and plastic combination in just the same way. But there are substantial differences: Innopocket’s case does not open up with a hinge at the bottom, does not cover the iPod mini’s Click Wheel or Dock Connector port, and does not use adhesive belt clip attachments.
Additionally, its back plate is entirely magnesium (rather than plastic with an aluminum outer shell, like the Clear iPod Armor mini), and Innopocket offers the case in five colors that generally match currently shipping iPod mini units. The blue case isn’t exactly the same color blue as that iPod mini, and the silver is similarly a bit darker than Apple’s uncolored aluminum, but the colors are close enough and looks good, regardless.
The differences render the two cases substantially different from one another. As with previous iPod armor cases, Matias’ product is better if you want to protect the iPod mini’s entire body (save its top) from scratches or other damage, but Innopocket’s gives you more practical access to the mini’s Click Wheel controls. With full Wheel protectors now available from companies like Power Support (3D Wheel Film), this isn’t as much of a protective issue as it was in the past, but since Innopocket doesn’t include a protector with the case, you’ll either have to buy one yourself or do without.
The lack of a hinge on the Magnesium Case similarly has a benefit and a consequence; the case holds the iPod mini snugly inside, using small black foam pads on the interior to guarantee a firm fit, but there’s also a small fingertip-sized exposed area on its back so that you can slide the iPod mini out. Because of the case’s tight grip, pushing with your finger doesn’t typically do the trick - you need to use a fingernail on the mini’s bottom aluminum edge. It’s not difficult, but just a shame that so much of the mini had to be exposed when so little can practically be of benefit.
Innopocket’s rear panel is substantially more attractive than Matias’, which was flat and plain: the use of an extruded pattern makes the Magnesium Case look cool, and a small hole at the top of the case permits a lanyard (not included) necklace to be attached if you desire. A small screw underneath the lanyard hole serves as a detachable belt clip mount; Innopocket makes the screw easy to remove, and equally easy to attach the included black belt clip, which is entirely adequate.
Only two issues limit our ability to give this case a high recommendation. First, its bottom Dock Connector port is woefully small - one of the very smallest we’ve seen, and thereby physically incompatible with even Pacific Rim’s own new battery charger accessory. (Ironically, it works only with Apple’s own Dock Connector parts, and wouldn’t work with approved but customized accessories such as Monster’s.) We can never understand why some companies make these ports so small but yet expose part of the iPod mini’s back to scratch damage; it should be the other way around.
The other issue is iPod mini top protection. While we understand that some people will like to have the mini’s entire top exposed for use with Griffin’s iTrip and similar devices, we really prefer to have a bit of a lip at the top of the case to protect against the consequences of drop damage. In the Magnesium Case, the mini’s top is flush with the front surface and only a hair away from the back surface.
In sum, the Magnesium Case is a visually attractive and largely protective iPod mini protector - one of the best we’ve seen in the former, but not the best we’ve seen in the latter. We recommend it most strongly to those who will actually use an iTrip up top, and those who won’t be using third-party Dock Connector accessories on its bottom; in any case, people who aren’t afraid of potential scratch damage on a few surfaces of their minis.
Its $29.99 price tag puts it a step beneath the Clear iPod Armor mini and steps above competing products such as Power Support’s Crystal Jacket and Contour Design’s iSee, on par with Speck Products’ FlipStand. Though we preferred its looks, we think it’s a tie with the Clear iPod Armor mini overall because of the Magnesium Case’s Dock Connector, back and top holes, and not as versatile as the comparable FlipStand - or as protective as Innopocket’s earlier Metal Deluxe Case. Attention to the small details would have helped the Magnesium Case dramatically, but it’s still a good option if you like its looks and don’t mind its limitations.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.