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 Capdase’s Bifold Style and Vertical-Flip Style Leather Cases for iPod nano ($15 each).
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.
By comparison with Belkin’s Leather Folios, Capdase’s new Bifold Style and Vertical-Flip Style Leather Cases are highly similar to just about every flip-style leather case we’ve previously seen for iPods, with cheapening touches that don’t endear us to the designs. The Bifold Style case is like the Leather Folio, opening like a book, while the Vertical Flip instead opens a bottom flap. Both stay shut using clearly visible but not especially strong magnets, four of which are very evident on each case’s interior. Leather quality and looks don’t appear to be huge concerns to Capdase, either, as the interiors feel plasticy, rather than classy, and are embossed with three lines of explanatory text that really don’t help.
Capdase also manages to cover less of the nano than Belkin and other companies do with their leather cases.
Bifold leaves the nano’s entire top and top right corner exposed, while leaving almost the entire bottom open but for a couple of tiny straps. The disadvantage of this design is weak top protection, but the advantage is great accessory accessibility: the Dock Connector port is fully available. Not so in Vertical-Flip, which leaves only the headphone port exposed on the bottom, and the nano’s top corners open as well, but also exposes parts of the nano’s sides.
Another oddity in these packages is that both of the cases were clearly designed to work with simple attachments such as carabiner hooks, yet neither actually shipped with them.