Review: XtremeMac Verona Flip Leather Cases for iPod nano, classic & touch
Flip-closed leather iPod and iPhone cases continue to appear at a staggering pace, but unfortunately, innovation remains elusive: other than small changes to their shapes and materials, the latest offerings are no better than last year's, and from our perspective are even less worthwhile given that they limit your access to the device's increasingly important screens. Today, we look briefly at twelve flip-closed leather cases from five companies -- Belkin, Capdase, CoverCase, Pacific Rim Technologies, and XtremeMac -- but note up front that the only marginally impressive features of any of them are their leather detailing and protectiveness. This review is for XtremeMac's Verona Flip for the iPod nano ($25), iPod classic ($30), and iPod touch ($30).
All twelve of the cases operate in the same general fashion: they hold your iPod or iPhone inside a tailored leather holster that could conceivably be its own case, except for the absence of one or two sides worth of leather. The cases then shut with a front-covering flap that also covers all or part of one of the device’s sides. How that side is covered typically impacts accessory access, while the front’s coverage precludes screen and control access: you need to open the case every time you want to use the iPod or iPhone inside.
To its credit, XtremeMac didn’t just do the bare minimum when releasing the Verona Flip cases: unlike any of the others we’re reviewing today, the company put a little thought into a new feature people might use with their video-ready iPods. Just like Belkin’s Leather Folios, the Verona Flip cases for iPod nano and iPod touch fold closed in a horizontal book-like orientation; the iPod classic version closes with a bottom-opening vertical flap. All three use a metal snap to stay closed, and have suede interiors; nicely stitched and variously patterned leathers are used for their outsides. Contrary to their boxes, our Verona Flips did not include film protectors, but then, they don’t really need to.
The iPod nano version is interesting mostly in colors—there’s a patch of additional striped tones to offset each otherwise simple leather case design—and the included carabiner hook, which enables you to wear the nano on a belt loop. But the iPod classic and touch versions have fold-out rear panels that connect to the fronts to form video viewing stands. iPod classic’s screen is placed upright, and touch’s goes vertical. Thanks to the snaps and the thickness of the reinforced leather, these stands are firm enough to properly hold the iPods for video viewing, and they look pretty good doing it, too.
Protection and port access are roughly par for the course in flip-style case designs. All three versions expose the iPods’ four corners to some degree, enabling headphone port access in each case, plus switch/button access on the touch and nano versions, and flip-open access to the Hold switch on the classic case. None offers Dock Connector access, making these cases poorly suited for use in a car, dock, or charging situation; they’re best used with headphones, and in no way impede use of whatever sized headphone plug you may be using.
XtremeMac’s only major issue in designing these cases was their thickness: adding the extra reinforced leather panel transforms what would otherwise be standard case dimensions into unusually thick holders—we haven’t seen full-sized leather iPod cases this bulky in years. The cases’ non-detachable rear belt clips, which are fixed in a single vertical (classic) or horizontal (touch) position, only add to this. Consequently, if you want the video feature, you’ll need to be willing to live with sizes that make the iPods less pocket-friendly than normal.
Thankfully, price isn’t a major barrier here. Though the nano version’s the same $25 price as Belkin’s similar and slightly nicer-looking Leather Folio, it includes a hook that Belkin lacks, and the variety of XtremeMac color options offer reasons for some users to prefer either case. The $30 iPod classic and touch versions sell for the same price as most peers, and offer a little additional functionality, compromising only on thickness to achieve it. Consider these to be good, if large options if you’re a fan of flip-style designs.