Review: Sumo Cases Flap (Nylon, Leather and Suede)
Pros: Highly attractive and reasonably priced fabric sleeve-style cases that do a superb job of protecting all of your iPod, using a top flap for access. Solid metal belt clip.
Cons: Limited iPod control access when inside, no screen access.
Since January’s Macworld Expo, we’ve been itching to review a set of iPod cases from new iPod accessory maker Sumo Cases - one-size-fits-all holsters that immediately caught our attention even though they were hidden in a small booth. To provide some context, we’re generally not huge fans of holster-style cases - ones that hold your iPod without permitting screen or control access - but of the ones we’ve seen, Sumo has some of the nicest designs around.
Today, there are two general shapes of Sumo Cases. The one reviewed here is called the Sumo Flap, while the other (reviewed separately) is a standard Sumo. Both case designs use a padded pouch that covers every part of a full-sized iPod except the top when it’s open, typically with attractively stitched ballistic nylon as the exterior material. The ballistic nylon versions shown here sell for $19.99, while leather and suede versions are available as described below for $29.99. All of their interiors use a soft polyester-style fabric that won’t scratch your iPod, and there’s a non-detachable, very sturdy metal belt clip on the top of each case’s back. A Sumo logo is embossed on each of the nylon cases’ belt clips.
Then the two Sumo case shapes begin to differ from one another in functionality. The Flap version can be closed with a large top flap that holds tight at the front middle of the case. Current Flap cases use front snaps - which we like - but the company’s switching to an equally good black Velcro for upcoming Flap cases, which we’ve tested and found very satisfactory. There’s a slit in each flap to give you access to the iPod’s headphone port and Hold switch, but because of the padding and design, it stays pretty much closed except for whatever you’ve stuck through it. As a final design difference, Flap cases include a white Sumo logo that’s embroidered on the front, matching the white stitching used attractively as piping.
From Flap case to case, there are also a small number of cosmetic and color differences. The Flap’s already sold in nylon black or gray, as well as entirely new black leather and black suede versions. These premium versions ($29.99) are just about to become available, and include unembossed belt clips that are attractively covered with the same material. The feel of the leather and suede is nothing short of great.
You’ll have to pick the look that’s right for your own personal tastes, and though Sumo first caught our attention with its flapless black Quilted case, we’re now completely enraptured with the leather and suede Flap versions, which look so good that we’ve been willing to compromise our preferred use of the iPod - full control access - just to use them. And we never, ever say that about other cases. These are quite special, and exceptional.
However, that specialness isn’t enough to score a perfect rating from us, because we still strongly believe that an ideal iPod case provides easy access to the iPod’s controls. But the Flip’s great looks give it a boost, and even Sumo’s flapless cases are more protective than many of the clip-laden sleeves we’ve seen - their padding and complete coverage of all of the iPod’s body (save the top) are features many comparable cases omit. The Flap remedies the omission of top protection, and still looks great in the process.
There’s no denying that you’ll need to pull your iPod from the sleeve in order to use its screen or change its volume - thankfully, the cases let you get access to a 1G, 2G, 4G, or photo iPod’s pressure-sensitive track controls (don’t expect to use a 3G iPod while inside). But if you can get around this - which with these particular cases, we did - you’ll love Sumo’s designs, especially for their reasonable prices.