Model: Teatro-S, Vario-SC
Price: $40, $50
Compatible: iPhone 4/4S, iPad 2
ZeroChroma Teatro-S for iPhone 4/4S and Vario-SC for iPad 2
Cases with integrated stands can be particularly useful, especially when it comes to the iPad. Having the ability to stand the device up for typing or viewing without having to carry around another accessory is simply that much more convenient. ZeroChroma's Teatro-S ($40) for the iPhone 4 and 4S and Vario-SC ($50) for the iPad 2 are both designed to accomplish this, with multi-angle stands built-in. Surprisingly, even though they're from the same company and sold side by side, the two cases are pretty different from one another.
Of the two, Teatro-S is somewhat disappointing; it leaves a lot to be desired. This case is a simple hard plastic shell that snaps around the back and sides of an iPhone without offering any sort of protection for the fragile glass display. The inside is lined with felt to prevent the back from getting scratched, but both the top and bottom edges are almost fully exposed, leaving full access to all of the ports and buttons. When purchased online, it comes with a wrist strap that can be strung through a pair of holes on the back of the case, but without the stand functionality, there really wouldn’t be anything to set this case apart from the crowd.
Vario-SC, on the other hand, is actually a very nice looking case and shares many qualities with some of the better iPad 2 protectors we’ve seen. Instead of hard plastic, the body is made of smooth rubber. It curls easily around the tablet’s edges, creating a small lip. There’s no button coverage, but ZeroChroma decided to use precision cut holes instead of long openings to expose the ports and buttons. They’re well cut and look very nice. It’s even Smart Cover-compatible, with an opening that reveals just enough of the aluminum back for the lid to magnetically attach. It’s a clean implementation, although there’s no need to use the Smart Cover as a stand with this case; it really only functions as a lid.
Both cases use the same style stand mechanism, just on a different scale. Towards the bottom half of both cases is a relatively large plastic circle that rotates 360°, clicking into place with each quarter turn. In the center is a rectangle split into a T and its inverse shape. The top of the T is attached to the circle via a hinge; pulling on the bottom lifts it up to a stand position. ZeroChroma claims 14 angles on the iPhone version, and 11 on the iPad model, but we counted two less on each—that still leaves you with quite a few options, but it is less than advertised. Naturally, the deeper angles are sturdier than the more acute ones. The stand on the tablet version is also large enough to be used as a handle, but we wouldn’t recommend relying on it. It’s very easy for the case to slip off of your hand as the plastic is smooth without any real grip.
Vario-SC is clearly the better case of the two. Not only does it offer a higher level of protection, but the stand is also a more practical feature for the tablet. ZeroChroma paid a lot of attention to detail on this one, and ended up with a pretty good case. Smart Cover-compatibility may be overkill, but at least it doesn’t detract from the overall value. The main thing holding us back from offering a high recommendation is the price. While it’s not outlandish, it is too high. The case is worthy of B rating. Teatro-S, on the other hand, is a miss. Not only do we dislike the shell-style, but the price is too high and the stand is likely less useful than the one seen on the Vario-SC. These factors earn ZeroChroma’s iPhone 4/4S case a C.