Pros: An attractive two-piece anodized aluminum case for the fifth-generation iPod. Available in six colors and two sizes (30GB/60GB), each with an integrated clear screen protector, lanyard, and detachable belt clip. Good protection for the full-sized iPod at a very reasonable price.
Cons: Scratches ship with and are easy to add to screen protector; body is less scratchable, but still can show marks. Click Wheel, Dock Connector port, and Hold switch are all exposed at all times, the latter two more than necessary.
Having previously looked at Core Cases’ Aluminum Cases for the iPod nano (iLounge rating: B+) and iPod shuffle (iLounge rating: B+), we were excited to receive and test new designs for the fifth-generation iPod. As with the others, there are two shell pieces (front and back), a detachable belt clip, and a lanyard. Six colors are available, as are different-sized versions made for 30GB and 60GB models. By comparison with other full-sized iPod metal cases we’ve tested, the Aluminum Cases feel a bit lightweight, but their metallic bodies have the nice sparkle of anodized aluminum – similar to the bodies of old iPod minis.
We were generally impressed by the build quality of the Aluminum Cases – their two halves come neatly together, and they’re properly padded on the inside with thin black foam to prevent iPod surface scuffing or scratching. The 30GB model fits the 30GB iPod perfectly, and the 60GB version is the same – hole and screen alignment is as it should be. Our only deductions here are for scratching; both the clear screen protectors and bodies of the samples we received were able to show scratches a bit too easily for our liking – the screen more than the body – and the screen protectors on our samples were actually pre-scratched with thin hairline marks, despite having been protected in plastic for shipping. We wouldn’t expect the anodized aluminum to fully lose its luster, but exposure to hard objects will result in marks on its body.
Again, the Aluminum Cases do a good job here – the iPod’s Hold switch, headphone port, Dock Connector port and Click Wheel are entirely accessible, and the screen is viewable through the hard clear plastic screen protector. The case loses two points because the headphone port hole isn’t large enough for oversized headphones, and in addition to its scratched looks, the screen protector has a mild prismatic effect depending on your viewing angle.
The Aluminum Cases score five total points for special features and innovation. They earn one for offering six different colors (blue, orange, black, silver, pink, and green) for each of the two case thicknesses, and two for the company’s original, two-piece design, which unlike the metal cases developed by other companies offers an unusually thin profile and no hinges on any of its sides.
Separately, the case scores two points for its included detachable belt clip and lanyard necklace. We found the belt clip – black, spring-loaded, and attached to the iPod with one of two included screw-in nubs – to be adequate, and the black and silver lanyard a little more comfortable than we’d expected, even given the weight of the 60GB iPod with the case on. We’re bigger fans of the company’s thinner-profile alligator clips, but they’re clearly not as well-suited to larger iPods as they are to nano and shuffle.
Core scores pretty well here, but not as well as it could have given that it’s selling one of the only case types (metal) eligible for a full 10 points in protectiveness. On the bright side, most of the iPod – including its face, back, and corners – is covered in at least one sheet of anodized aluminum, which is capable of taking a hit better than most of the cases we’ve tested. And the screen is protected by the aforementioned integrated clear guard. But there are unprotected holes for the iPod’s Click Wheel, Hold Switch, and Dock Connector port, with both the Hold switch and Dock Connector holes a bit larger than necessary, ostensibly to aid in removing the iPod from the case.
The Aluminum Case’s biggest selling point is its attractive price. For $25 – a bit more aggressive than the typical 5G iPod case – you get a hard metal case in your choice of colors, with better than typical build quality and resilience. While you shouldn’t expect the unit to weather scratches with the same impunity as some of the other cases we’ve tested, it’s affordable and looks good for the dollar. Both we and our readers have consistently been happy with these cases’ low profiles, colors, and costs – further innovation from Core Cases will hopefully lead to even more interesting and protective designs.
It’s worth a brief note that Core Cases frequently improves its products after initial production (see Revving, below), resulting in changes that make its later cases superior to earlier ones. As such, our review serves as a baseline for what you can expect; future releases may remove the scratching and other issues identified above.
Company and Price
Company: Core Cases
Model: Aluminum Case 5G
Compatible: iPod 5G