Review: Pacific Design iPod Mini Flip Case
Pros: Smart PDA-style case with iPod-appropriate customizations, including flexible headphone jack hole, small magnets, and white external stripe for style. Compatible with Apple’s iPod mini pack-in Belt Clip.
Cons: Dock Connector port hole is way too small, interior iPod mini face plate is cut a little bit imprecisely.
The latest fashion twist across iPod mini cases is the single vertical stripe: Marware pulled it off with style in its ballistic nylon TrailVue case, and now bagmaker Pacific Design is offering a similar stripe-laden faux-leather case made from polyurethane.
Like TrailVue, Pacific Design’s iPod Mini Flip Case ($24.99) is a PDA-style flip-open case with a flap that covers the iPod mini’s face until you open it upwards. When opened, the Flip Case protects the mini’s screen with a sheet of clear medium-strength vinyl, but leaves its Click Wheel exposed. A hole is left for the mini’s Dock Connector port, and a slot is similarly cut in the case at the headphone port. Two holes are left for the iPod mini’s top corner sides, presumably to make removal and insertion easier.
We really liked several of the case’s concepts and implementions. First, it’s one of the most handsome leather-style cases we’ve seen, indistinguishable from the real thing to the typical viewer, and helped considerably by its vertical stripe. Available in four colors (pink, blue, lime green and orange), the Flip Case always includes a white stripe, and seems just that much more iPod-appropriate and interesting as a result – it’s readily distinguishable from the myriad other plain-faced cases we’ve seen. Pacific Design kept its embossed logo on the case’s front small and classy, and quality stitching really helps matters too; all of the case’s components look professionally assembled, and its interior velvety black polyester adds to a strong feeling that your iPod mini is safe inside.
Also generally on the case’s “good idea�? list was Pacific Design’s choice to use two small magnets on the iPod mini’s front bottom corners rather than a latch and snap system to hold the front flap closed. We strongly prefer the magnets on a visual level, but the consequence is that the Dock Connector port remains uncovered at all times. To compensate for this, Pacific Design sized the Flip Case’s Dock Connector port hole way too small – literally so small that Apple’s own Dock Connector plugs (the smallest made) clip the fabric on insertion. Consequently, this isn’t the best case for people who use their iPods in their cars, but the all-fabric case bottom makes this nearly ideal if you’re trying to avoid mini scratch damage and only plan to use Apple’s own iPod accessories.
Similarly, we liked the headphone port slot, which though seemingly on the small side (right-sized for Apple’s own accessories) gently folds open to accommodate all of the headphone plugs we tested, including large-sized ones. Because it leaves a hole at the top of the mini, it’s not as protective as some of the cases we’ve seen, but the tradeoff in functionality is a fair one.
Another “good idea�? is the Flip Case’s lack of a belt clip, which keeps its back flat and reduces its bulk. Like several other companies that have found ways to incorporate (rather than duplicate) Apple’s own iPod mini pack-ins, Pacific Design engineered the Flip Case to integrate with Apple’s free iPod mini Belt Clip if you want to use it.
Besides the tiny Dock Connector hole, we had only one issue with the Flip Case. First is its iPod mini-covering face plate, which is cut a wee bit imprecisely around the mini’s screen and Click Wheel. This is a tiny detail that thankfully won’t impact anyone’s use of either component, but expect to see a tiny bit of the mini’s metal under the screen and perhaps a millimeter or less on one part of its wheel. As noted, you’re also guaranteed to see both of the mini’s top corners peeking out from the top sides regardless of whether the case is open or closed.
All-in-all, the Flip Case is a smart compromise between looks, protectiveness, and cost. While a bit shy of the most protection we’ve seen in a case of its style, and not the cheapest leather-style iPod mini case, it’s attractive, very affordable, and guaranteed to make a good impression. A solid first effort from Pacific Design.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.