Review: Vaja iVolution for iPhone 3G
As we're now dealing with a huge influx of hundreds of cases and other accessories, we've opted to issue abbreviated reviews of a number of late case arrivals for the iPhone 3G -- ones that are substantially similar to cases we've previously reviewed. This review looks at Vaja's iVolution for iPhone 3G ($85), the sequel to last year's iVolution for the original iPhone.
We’re never sure what to expect any more from Vaja’s once flagship iVolution cases, which have gone from being beautiful, customizable and protective iPod leather hard cases into a “best two out of three” affair for later iPods and iPhones. Over time, Vaja has dropped the iVolution’s integrated screen protection and raised its prices, charging as much or more for this case as for ones with substantially more device body coverage. Now, it’s making iterative tweaks that don’t so much help last year’s case as stylize it.
The iPhone 3G version of iVolution is now $5 more expensive than its predecessor, preserving the same general formula of a leather-covered hardshell with holes in the top, front, sides, and bottom for access to the iPhone 3G’s screen, controls, speakers, microphone and camera. For the $85 price, you can choose between 38 colors, with separate colors for the front and back exteriors, as well as for the interior. This remains a great degree of customizability, and iVolution’s strongest selling point. However, once again, no screen protection is included, and the case remains incompatible with Universal Docks, so despite the open bottom, you’ll need to remove the 3G to use it with most speakers and many other bottom-attaching accessories.
We have mixed feelings about this version of iVolution for one major reason: as we noted last year, “iVolution continues to get more expensive every year, even as it falls in protectiveness,” and that trend has unfortunately continued. Even more of the iPhone’s glass face is exposed than last year, with an odd angled front cover that was designed solely to make room for the Vaja logo on one side of the 3G’s ear speaker. Last year’s Home button protector was just a little too recessed, and this year’s looks a little too puffed out with a boring, slightly off-center icon, even if it feels more responsive.
Overall, it doesn’t feel like iVolution is getting better, but rather just shifting from year to year, getting pricier and making the same mistakes in protection. Consequently, the difference between what used to be Vaja’s best designs and similar offerings from companies such as Case-Mate now tilts in the latter’s favor both price-wise and on protection. If customizability is critical to you, consider iVolution anyway; otherwise, Case-Mate’s offerings and Carbon Fiber ones from ION-Factory are in the same general league, depending on whether price or looks is your key buying criterion. Despite our appreciation for its play-through design, iVolution’s overall value equation—too pricey in our view for the protection it offers—earns it only our limited recommendation.