Review: Sena Cases MagnetFlipper Case for Apple iPhone/3G
Nearly four months have passed since Apple released the iPhone, and two waves of cases -- the rushed, early ones, and the somewhat better, post-launch releases -- have become widely available. Not surprisingly, iPhone case releases have slowed down as new iPod models have demanded manufacturers' attention, but today, we're quickly looking at five recent options of different types, one more noteworthy than the rest.
The final two iPhone cases we’re looking at today are from Sena Cases, which specializes in luxury leather case designs, many adapted from similar cases for PDAs and iPods. In the last month, the company has released the Dockable Case ($52) and MagnetFlipper Case ($52) for the iPhone, two different types of flip-closed cases with iPhone face-protecting, magnetic-sealed leather lids. Each comes with a plastic belt clip, metal nub, screw, and installation wrench, as well as a red carrying bag.
When closed, MagnetFlipper and Dockable Case cover the same parts of iPhone: its entire face, its back except the camera hole, its sides except the corners, the left switch and volume buttons, its top except the headphone port, and its bottom except for the Dock Connector, and small holes for the bottom speaker and microphone. Dockable also covers the iPhone’s top right corner, including its Sleep/Wake button, when closed; MagnetFlipper leaves this part exposed, but covers more of iPhone’s back around the camera. Overall, both cases offer a good but not great level of protection, and neither prevents you from using iPhone’s speakerphone functionality.
The cases differ mostly in one feature and in their materials. When they’re closed, they look very similar to one another, but the Dockable Case’s lid opens upwards, enabling the iPhone to be docked even in Apple’s included iPhone Dock, and MagnetFlipper’s lid opens downwards, not fitting into a standard iPhone dock. MagnetFlipper comes in your choice of smooth Nappa or crocodile-style leather in any one of 14 colors, while the Dockable Case is made only from Nappa leather in your choice of 12 colors or color combinations, including single-tone and two-tone versions.
Why should you prefer one of these cases to the other? Our feeling is that there should have just been one case, featuring Dockable’s design and MagnetFlipper’s textures and colors, but as-is, the two cases each have small advantages. Because of its Dock compatibility, and the fact that its lid opens upwards, Dockable is the more practical of the cases for accessory use and for belt-clipping; iPhone doesn’t have a big flap under its bottom to inconvenience you in either of these scenarios. Dockable’s two-tone designs may also appeal to some users; they’re visually more interesting, if perhaps not as classy, as the single-colored and crocodile-textured alternatives. It’s also a bit more protective of iPhone’s top, and only a hint less protective of its bottom. By contrast, MagnetFlipper’s crocodile textures, better camera-adjacent coverage, and slightly better bottom corner covers are reasons you might prefer that model.
As we’ve said in many past reviews, we’re never thrilled with flip-closed cases or other designs that interfere with immediate access to and use of the iPhone’s face, but as flip-style cases go, Dockable is one of the best options we’ve tested. Though it’s not as slick or customizable as Vaja’s iVolution Top or Top SP Holster designs, it’s equally recommendable in that it’s still luxurious, considerably less expensive and a little more protective, though also much thicker. MagnetFlipper’s slightly less practical and, other than its additional texture options, not as worthwhile from our standpoint, but it’s still a good, recommendable case. If you like flip-style designs, either one of these cases will please you for the price.
Updated October 14, 2008: Sena has re-released MagnetFlipper for the iPhone 3G, preserving the price and virtually everything about the prior design, but cutting the number of color choices down to 12.
Though we still generally like the way this case looks, the new version rates lower than its predecessor because of a compatibility concern: Apple does not recommend the inclusion of magnets in iPhone 3G cases for reasons that remain unclear, and as such, you’re taking a risk with MagnetFlipper that there will be an issue of some sort. The Dockable Case for iPhone 3G no longer includes magnets, and is a safer pick for users of this Apple product.