Review: Mobifly iPod mini Mobifly Kit
Pros: A belt and shoulder strap way to wear your iPod mini.
Cons: Inexpensive-feeling parts and design at a high price; bright, plasticy leather belt and polyester shoulder strap attached to a flip-open iPod holster with very limited protection. Compatibility problems with current (second-generation) iPod minis.
Since the early 2004 launch of the iPod mini, we’ve reviewed over 50 different cases tailored to the unique size and shape of Apple’s mid-sized iPod. Today, we finish a series of quick looks at eight additional cases that range in materials from rubbery plastic to leather and felt, and in place of origin from Sweden to Germany, Japan, China, and the United States.
It’s not evident in the iPod mini’s specifications, but there is in fact a difference in thickness between Apple’s first-generation and second-generation iPod minis. Current models are second-generation, include “4GB” or “6GB” labels on their backs, and are thicker than their predecessors by about a hair - less than a millimeter. Under most circumstances, this difference doesn’t matter, but it does render newer minis less compatible or incompatible with certain hard cases.
That’s the situation with the iPod mini Mobifly Kit from France’s Mobifly (49.99 Euros, approx. $62.00), an unusual iPod mini carrying accessory that consists of two fabric bands and a hard plastic holster. One of the bands is a belt, the other, a shoulder strap, and the intent is that you can wear your iPod mini at waist or chest level as you desire.
In all candor, we weren’t especially impressed by the Mobifly Kit even before we discovered that it had problems fitting second-generation iPod minis. Accustomed as we are to carrying iPod minis in our pockets or bags, or wearing them on our belts or hanging from the straps of backpacks or other bags while inside fully protective cases, we couldn’t wrap our heads around the idea of bandoliering or belting the iPod mini with either of these included bright white straps instead, or paying a premium price for a mini enclosure that’s so comparatively limited in protection.
The belt is described by Mobifly as white leather and the shoulder strap as white polyester, but both have a “processed” look that makes them appear to be less expensive than the Kit’s price tag would imply that they should be. Each strap attaches to the back of the all-plastic holster with metal rings; the belt uses the iPod as a belt buckle, and the shoulder strap just holds the mini in place wherever you choose to mount it.
Mobifly’s iPod holster is a flip-open set of two pieces of glossy white plastic - the front piece almost entirely covers the mini’s bottom half and the top of its back; the back piece completes the front’s protection of the mini’s bottom, covers its Hold switch, and serves as a mount for its two belts. The holster does an adequate but not great job of holding the straps’ metal rings in place, such that they’re not difficult to detach if you want them to do so. We can’t be sure how well they’ll last over months of use, but we suspect that they’ll loosen over time. If they do or if they don’t, you won’t want to use the holster without them, as its angular back especially makes it inappropriate to toss into a bag or pocket.
When used with a first-generation iPod mini, the holster exposes the mini’s Click Wheel entirely, as well as almost its entire top half. The Click Wheel is misaligned by a little bit inside, showing more bottom metal than top, but most people wouldn’t mind, as the design doesn’t appear to be trying too hard to cover the iPod mini perfectly. In fact, the holster’s coverage of the Hold switch appears to be solely to keep the mini from falling out if held on its side, as Mobifly intends it to be worn.
Thus, the iPod is not so much protected as shown off by this product. The flip-open mechanism of the two-piece holster is designed so that you can look down and see your iPod mini on its side when it’s mounted at belt level - not the greatest choice of orientations.
A second-generation iPod mini fits so snugly in the holster that there’s obviously a problem with the manufacturing tolerances of the design. Initial attempts to get one to slide in easily were unsuccessful, and when we succeeded after a number of tries, the iPod mini became stuck inside the case and needed to be harshly pushed out.
Though we don’t enjoy saying this, the Mobifly Kit is basically our definition of a “bad” product - an overpriced and underengineered accessory that we wouldn’t want to use or wear. At least based on the unit we tested, it’s not going to fit currently shipping iPod minis in a satisfactory way, and for those minis it does fit, it’s a less preferable option in almost all regards than just buying a case to attach to a belt or the shoulder strap of a bag. For the dollar - or the Euro - we would definitely pick other options, instead.