Review: Lab.C Smart Wallet Case for iPhone 5
Although they're not our favorite iPhone case style, folios appear to be gaining somewhat in popularity, and the iPhone 5 launch saw more folios out of the gate than we've seen early in previous generations. Today, we're taking a look at several of these cases, which share many core characteristics but have notable differences between them. Our roundup includes Hex's Axis Wallet ($50), Lab.C's Smart Wallet Case ($42), Simplism's Flip Note and Vertical Flip Style Cases ($30), Spigen SGP's Illuzion ($33), Uniq Creation's Couleur ($27), and Zenus' Diary Collection ($35-$60).
We can easily say that Smart Wallet Case from Lab.C is the most creative case in this group. It actually has a pretty fitting name, as there’s more here than meets the eye. The faux leather folio-style case has three credit card slots, a pocket that can hold cash, and an elastic band to hold everything shut. All three features are pretty standard for the style. What makes it different: the iPhone snaps into a removable plastic shell embedded with magnets, which can be used as its own case, or connected to the rear panel to form landscape or portrait orientation standing positions. The shell has a camera hole, but it’s blocked when attached to the rear panel. It also fails to provide any coverage for the top and bottom edges. Smart Wallet Case comes in seven colors, each of which includes a screen protector set. While the material won’t be mistaken for real leather and we don’t generally like to rely upon thin shells for iPhone protection, the ability to switch back and forth as needed is certainly intriguing.
While we wouldn’t strongly recommend any of these Folio-style iPhone cases, some are more worthy of consideration from those who do like the style and are willing to deal with a flap during phone calls. The best of the bunch are Hex’s Axis Wallet, Zenus’ Color Edge Diary Collection, and Zenus’ Lettering Diary Collection for their styles, and Lab.C’s Smart Wallet Case for its ingenuity; all of these cases earn a B, our general recommendation. Vintage Leather Diary Collection is deserving of a limited recommendation largely because its price is higher than generally makes sense for a case of this sort. By contrast, Illuzion’s price is fair, but it’s less exciting, and merits a limited recommendation as well. The two cases from Simplism and Uniq’s Coloeur all fail to earn a recommendation. Build and/or material quality limit their appeal, and even the stand functionality doesn’t make them worth consideration. Illuzion can be had for just a few dollars more, and it’s a better case.