Marware C.E.O. Elite for iPhone
In the early days of almost any new Apple product, third-party accessory makers seem to take a "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" philosophy to development: in addition to updating previously popular designs, they'll sometimes try oddball new ones in the hope that they're first to cater to an untapped niche. That's the only explanation we can offer for Marware's new $30 C.E.O. Elite and Quick Vue cases for iPhone, horizontal belt mounts that eschew full-time iPhone access and versatility in the name of additional protection. The idea is that you'll mount the case on your belt, drop your iPhone in, seal it inside, and pull it completely out -- most likely, uncovered -- whenever you want to use it.
Quick Vue looks like a belt-mounted briefcase for your iPhone. Made almost entirely from matte black, slightly rubberized hard plastic, save for a polished metal top clasp and thin interior foam padding, Quick Vue is designed to be worn at waist level, as its decent, single-position rear belt clip is not detachable. It seals your iPhone inside in only one position—face inwards, headphone port at lower right—so that you can pop the clasp and access iPhone’s screen on its side while you’re walking. You get no bottom speaker, microphone, or Dock Connector access while iPhone’s inside; the side and top controls are fully inaccessible unless you pull iPhone out of the case. All you can do is hit the Home button and access the screen.
C.E.O. Elite is basically Quick Vue, except with different materials and less protection. Rather than using hard plastic, Elite combines Nappa leather, nylon fabric, and a plush interior to form a loose-fitting, belt-mounted wallet that seals shut with a magnetic top flap, and opens very generously to let you see the iPhone or pull it out. As with the Quick Vue, a non-detachable belt clip is on the back, and the case has a side hole to provide access either to iPhone’s headphone port (preferred) or Sleep/Wake switch, depending on how it’s inserted. Both cases are capable of accommodating an iPhone with full body film attached.
If we had to pick one of the two cases as “better,” we’d give the nod to Quick Vue, on the grounds that it looks and feels a bit more tightly constructed, and offers more protection when it’s shut, though neither of the cases is as solid or firm as we’d hope. C.E.O. Elite is, in a phrase, comparatively cheaper feeling. Despite the leather, which wraps around the case to form a single bottom, back, and top piece with the aforementioned magnet to hold the case closed, the rest of Elite’s body is a nylon that alternately appears dark green, gray, or dark red under different lights, held together on the sides by two pieces of black elastic. The elastic bunches up unusually when the case is closed, and pops open unattractively to let you pull the iPhone out. By Marware’s generally high standards, this case is hardly Elite; it looks and feels sloppy. Neither case’s non-detachable belt clip doubles as a video viewing stand.
The only saving grace of both of these cases is the quantity of protection they offer when iPhone’s secured inside. Very little of the iPhone body is exposed when they’re closed; Quick Vue covers everything but the headphone port, and even recesses it under plastic, while C.E.O. Elite exposes all four of iPhone’s corners and the headphone port, but little else. As with all of Marware’s iPhone cases, both C.E.O. Elite and Quick Vue each come with a clear protective film for iPhone’s face, which offers some level of protection when you pull the phone out, as well as a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Given that there are so many cases out there with roughly comparable protection, belt clip mounting options, and full-time access to iPhone’s controls and ports, we can’t see the value proposition behind either Quick Vue or C.E.O. Elite unless you’re looking to mask your iPhone’s identity inside. If that’s the case, we’d much rather point you to Marware’s earlier, superior Sportsuit Sleeve (iLounge rating: B), which does a better job for a lower price.