As of today, the iPhone 3G doesn’t have a hard plastic case that we love; we’ve liked Contour’s iSee and Hardskin, as well as Griffin’s Wave, but the right combination of looks, pricing, and protection hasn’t yet emerged. The same holds true today as we review three new plastic iPhone shells from Case-Mate, Speck, and Uniea. This review covers Case-Mate’s Naked Case for iPhone 3G ($35).
Based heavily on last year’s Naked Case, which was in turn based on Artwizz’s widely licensed SeeJacket Crystal, the Naked Case for iPhone 3G is a clear hard plastic shell with integrated thin plastic touchscreen protection. The hook here is that the case requires no separate screen film in order to cover the touchscreen; you just snap the two-piece case together, and most of the iPhone is covered.
Case-Mate’s major advantage over some competitors is its array of colors: you can choose from clear, black, white, pink, or gray versions, each with the same completely clear face and black front bezel. Each of these cases is decidedly classier than Uniea’s U-Feel, which uses similar integrated touchscreen protection, but comes in three offbeat metallic or pearlescent colors. But there’s a surprising disadvantage, as well: this year’s Naked Case is just too wide and tall. Try to use it with any Universal Dock accessory or thick Dock Connector plug and you’ll be out of luck; similarly, the case’s headphone port opening is molded in a way that precludes use with the largest headphone plugs we tested. Apple’s and most third-party plugs will work, but thicker ones may have an issue. The iPhone 3G’s camera, side, top, and Home buttons are all exposed, as well.
How well does the integrated touchscreen cover work? Most of the time, we had no issue using the iPhone 3G’s screen controls with typical touch actions, but we did find that the protector diminished the multi-touch sensitivity just enough to make casual side-of-finger pinch gestures unreliable; you have to make sure there’s enough finger surface area there to activate the screen. We also noticed that the protector has a strong tendency to show fingerprint smears, another factor that puts it into our B category.
The final issue with the Naked Case for iPhone 3G is pricing. At $35, it’s expensive for an iPhone 3G case without a belt clip or other frills, and its accessory compatibility issues make for a product that we’re on the fence about recommending; Case-Mate’s variety of legitimately nice colors is the primary factor pushing it from our limited recommendation category into a flat B general recommendation. If you like how this case looks and are willing to compromise a little on screen sensitivity and accessory connectivity, it’s worth checking out, but you may well find that you get equivalent protection and superior usability from a case with a film-based screen protector.
Company and Price
Model: Naked Case
Compatible: iPhone 3G