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 CoverCase’s Cobra Leather Cases for the third-generation iPod nano ($15), iPod classic ($15), iPod touch ($15), and iPhone ($20).
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.
We’ve never reviewed CoverCase products before, but the first slate of offerings we received for testing doesn’t give us a lot to be excited about: the Cobra Leather Cases are entirely generic except for their black, snakeskin-mimicing exterior textures. Sizes aside, the nano, classic, touch, and iPhone versions are almost the exact same case, each with a red velvet interior and a belt clip on the back. The nano version’s belt clip is stuck in a vertical orientation, while the classic and touch clips are non-detachable, ratcheting in 45-degree increments through 360 degrees of freedom, and the iPhone one is bigger and detachable with the same ratcheting motion. They all close with slightly visible magnets—make of that what you will, iPod classic owners.
With the exception of the nano version, which only offers headphone port access, all of the cases provide full-time Dock Connector and headphone port access; they also all expose the iPod or iPhone’s side corners. Accessory access is largely uninhibited, except for Universal Docks, which aren’t compatible; the iPod touch case actually fits inside, but the lid’s in the way.
On the iPhone case, cut-outs provide camera, side ringer switch and volume control access, but the bottom speaker and microphone are slightly covered by the bottom leather strap design. Additionally, for no apparent reason, cleaning cloths and screen protectors are also included with each model.
As with Capdase’s cases, the major selling points for these Cobra Leather Cases are their prices: for $15 to $20, it’s hard to find good leather iPod and iPhone alternatives. The reason is fairly obvious once you see these cases, which offer low-class mall kiosk-worthy designs that actually downgrade the look and functionality of most iPods rather than improving them. Consider these only if the faux snakeskin texture really appeals to your sensibilities.
Company and Price
Model: Cobra Leather Cases
Compatible: iPod nano, classic, touch, iPhone