Review: Tunewear Ambassador for iPhone
We've liked Tunewear's Ambassador series of cases since we first saw them back in 2005 for the iPod nano: these Nappa leather cases stood out from their peers by packing in large, substantial-feeling spring-loaded hooks as optional attachments, and including clear plastic protection for the parts of the iPods they didn't cover. Now, the company has released Ambassador for iPhone ($60) and Ambassador SideHook for iPod touch ($50), two variations on the same general theme, each in five different color combinations. As before, these cases are nice but nichey and a little too expensive, but novel enough that some users will be willing to cough up their asking prices anyway.
Past Ambassador cases featured front, back, side, top, and bottom leather coverage of their iPods, with small gaps only for the screen, Click Wheel, headphone port and Hold switch; the iPod 5G version left the Dock Connector open, as well. These cases are even more open than before, revealing most of each model’s face, parts of their side corners, and their Dock Connectors, using included film to all but completely cover the face parts that would otherwise be exposed—Home button omitted. The iPod touch version also includes a film back protector, should you want to use it.
Consequently, though you might think that you’re getting less leather than in the past Ambassador cases, Tunewear makes up for what’s absent on the front by adding a single ID, business, or credit card slot on the rear, and using nice magnetic clasps on one side of each case to hold the iPod or iPhone inside. Ambassadors thus have a firm grasp on their contents, and though the gold-colored version struck us as cheap-looking in the way that many gold leather products are, there’s no doubt that the build quality is sufficient in each version to keep your device largely safe inside.
The single biggest selling point of each of the cases is the included metal hook, which we found easy to attach and detach when we wanted it off, and similarly easy to open or close for attachment to a belt loop or bag strap. Tunewear’s hooks remain standouts in the iPod accessory industry because of their solid feel; both versions of Ambassador can flip the hook around their backs to serve as a generally but not perfectly stable video stand, or keep them dangling instead. SideHook is mounted on the iPod’s right side, so that the hanging touch can be used as a video player while you’re walking—initially rightside up to people walking past you, upside down if you look at it from above—though the hook rotates to let you flip touch into the right orientation for holding and viewing at the same time. The standard Ambassador holds the device vertically upside down to viewers, but rightside up for use of the iPhone and most other non-video features.
As we noted in prior Ambassador reviews, Tunewear’s prices for these cases continue to be on the high side of the leather case range, and in all honesty, we can’t say that these new versions strike us as better values than the ones that came before; both of the cases are somewhat underprotective on their sides and bottoms, with the iPod touch version doing a little bit better on coverage at a lower price, and the iPhone version’s largely open left, less than perfectly aligned rear camera hole, and unjustifiably higher price taking away from what would otherwise have been a general recommendation. We consider these to be pretty good but not fantastic cases, but their card pockets, hooks and possibly their looks may make them standouts for your personal needs.