Having spent the last six and a half years watching the evolutions of both iPods and their cases, we feel very strongly that case makers should be discouraged from making old-fashioned flip-style cases for video-ready iPods. As nice as these cases may sometimes look, they use lids that by default preclude access to the iPods’ screens and controls, which have become increasingly important over time, and needn’t be completely covered. But on extremely rare occasion, a company does a flip-style case so interestingly that we like it anyway. Case Logic’s new Folio cases for iPod nano and iPod touch ($35 each) are such cases; they differ in rating only because of the iPod nano version’s high price relative to other iPod nano cases of its type.
Folio’s design relies on three materials that work extremely well together: leather, suede, and metal. The frame of each case consists of two pieces of thin but hard metal, each sculpted with rounded 90-degree angles to cover three or four of the iPod’s surfaces. A front half has a screen and control-covering flap, plus smaller pieces for the iPod’s top and bottom.
The back half covers the iPod’s entire rear and sides, with a tiny tab on its bottom. Indentations in that tab and the bottom of the front flap fit together, locking the case closed; the iPod slips into the soft suede interior and is held in place but the sculpted metal frame.
Simply put, it’s Case Logic’s material choices that make the Folio cases work so well. Because the cases are built with metal rather than cardboard, they’re thin but sturdy, and because leather is used on the outside, they look decidedly classy—as good or better than the infamously overpriced Apple iPod Leather Cases released a couple of years ago. They protect every part of the iPod except for its headphone port, which in each case is exposed enough for connection to virtually any headphone plug you may be using. Flipping the case open, which can be a hassle with cases that have Velcro tabs, snaps, or floppy lids, is easy here—all you have to get over is the inconvenience of not having each iPod’s face accessible all the time. While this isn’t a great case for frequent iPod video viewers, those looking for slim, hard protection for a music player will really like it.
And the iPod touch’s Wi-Fi isn’t noticeably impacted by the metal here, either.
Having said that, the Folio cases we tested did have a few issues, some common to leather cases and others not. Like most nice leather cases we’ve seen, these cases do show scratches, even if you run a fingernail over them. They are also incompatible with Universal Docks, requiring you to remove your iPod or just use a cable for charging and synchronization. And unlike most leather cases, one of our review samples arrived with some light blemishes on the back, which thankfully could be rubbed out with a little moisture. The only other issue is coloration. Leather case makers tend to offer black cases with neutrally colored interiors so as not to offend color-sensitive users, then offer a few other external color options if possible to win over people who want choices other than black.