Since the iPhone was released in late June, many companies have released rubber iPhone cases, and as always, some are better than others. In late October, three companies added new options to the list: XtremeMac released TuffWrap ($20), Tunewear released Icewear ($30), and DLO released its second version of Jam Jacket ($20). All three cases represent steps up from the earliest iPhone cases we’ve seen, and two offer big visual twists on prior cases, but none is as ideally polished as we’d hope for in a late 2007 design.
These cases have several things in common. First, they’re all roughly equivalent in protection. Every one covers the same general parts of the iPhone and leaves others exposed: they all have holes on their bottoms, faces, sides, and backs, and each remedies the face holes with clear film face protectors. DLO surprisingly includes three face protectors in the package, while the other companies each include one. They all leave iPhone’s headphone port, camera, and full bottom exposed, permitting complete and unfettered use of all of the device’s features. None includes a belt clip or other back design. And all three are built with grippy sides to make the smooth iPhone less slippery in your hands.
The new Jam Jacket is a familiar update to a prior design. DLO previously released a version of this case with an earphone manager built into the back, providing not only a way to wrap the iPhone’s included earphone cables, but also two places to stow the earbuds. Now there’s this version, which the company explains isn’t a replacement, but rather an option for those who don’t want to carry around their earbuds with the iPhone. The back is completely bare, save for an embossed DLO logo, the camera hole, and the distinctive but simple molding of the rubber, carried over from the prior Jam Jacket.
Other than its corners and sides, there’s nothing really distinctive about the design, and the black version we tested showed dust more easily than these other cases. And it says something that its most interesting feature is the inclusion of those three screen protectors, which along with the molding elevate it a step or two above the generic cases out there, but not as dramatically as the Tuffwrap and Icewear designs.
The only other major distinction between the cases is their pricing: Tuffwrap and Jam Jacket sell for $20 each, while Icewear sells for $30. Our view is that TuffWrap has the best looks and ease of use, but isn’t amazing in protectiveness, the only reason it falls short of our A- rating and high recommendation. The new Jam Jacket is a good value but the closest to generic in looks—a flat B offering—while Icewear is eye-catching but has some execution issues, and came very close to our B- rating because of the overly recessed Home button, wet look, and thickness. We’d pick Tuffwrap first, but if you prefer the design of one of the alternatives, we wouldn’t discourage you from considering either one.
Company and Price
Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Model: Jam Jacket