Several years ago, silicone rubber iPod cases became so generic and commoditized that we all but stopped caring about them. But then something positive happened: the industry’s better case makers stepped up and started thinking more about how to improve the textures, protectiveness, and finish of their designs, compellingly distinguishing them from their poorly made throwaway competitors. Consequently, the iPhone and iPhone 3G have enjoyed a number of legitimately good and great new rubber case designs, four of which we’re looking at in separate reviews today. They vary in price from $20 to $40, and diverge widely in features and looks. This review focuses on DLO’s Jam Jacket for iPhone 3G ($20).
DLO released two different versions of its rubber Jam Jacket design for the original iPhone: a $25 original version with integrated earbud management on its back, and a $20 sequel that dropped the earbud manager for a simpler flat back. Jam Jacket for iPhone 3G is based substantially upon the second version, with literally all of the same features and design touches, only now with tailoring touches made for the curvier iPhone model.
The case itself is straightforward, sold in black, clear, pink, or blue colors, and distinguished from competitors by the use of grippy dotted sides and drop-insulating thicker rubber corners. There are recessed holes for the screen, camera, headphone port, ringer switch and bottom, but everything else is covered, including the top, face, and side buttons. DLO’s biggest change is to the new Jam Jacket’s face, which eliminates rubber around the ear speaker in favor of a modestly more open design that leaves the iPhone 3G’s sensors and glass face to be covered by one of three included transparent film screen protectors. In our view, DLO made exactly the right choice here, and we had no issue using the device’s screen or sensors with the film—three protectors is also unusually generous by iPhone case standards.
Our only issues with this Jam Jacket were in the quality of its finish. Each of the top, side, and bottom holes is a little ragged, suggesting that DLO had a greater tolerance for manufacturing imperfections than in some of the best rubber cases we’ve seen, though the front screen and rear camera openings were perfect in our review sample. While a little rough, the top and bottom holes worked perfectly with Universal Docks, large headphone ports, and other accessories; the ringer switch was a little hard to reach but not unforgivably so. We were also glad to find the unit’s buttons easy to use despite the protection DLO’s rubber affords. As with most of these cases, you can expect that the rubber and the screen protector will pick up fingerprint and other smear marks similar to the ones that the iPhone 3G would get itself if uncovered, something that anti-glare film in competing cases such as iSkin’s Revo2 might avoid.
Overall, the new Jam Jacket is a legitimately good case at a fair price. While it’s not as stylish as some of the rubber designs we’ve seen, it’s not a rip-off by any means at $20, and its combination of convenience and protection is certainly above average. Despite little kinks in its rubber molding, it’s worthy of our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Model: Jam Jacket
Compatible: iPhone 3G