Officially less than a week old, Apple’s iPhone 3G already has its first collection of protective cases, designed to shield the device against scratch and scuff damage, as well as fingerprints and smudges. Today, we’re doing brief reviews of the first dozen iPhone 3G cases, some of which are modestly redesigned versions of original iPhone designs, and others completely new to this device. This review covers Griffin’s Wave Case for iPhone 3G ($25).
When Griffin released the original Wave for iPhone several months ago, we were seriously impressed: hard plastic cases had become predictable, and Griffin had somehow managed to come up with something new—a two-piece case that snapped together using helix-style pieces of interlocking clear plastic. First sold in a set of six different colors, five of them bright and bold, and one a too-opaque black, Wave came with a static peel screen protector and a cleaning cloth, and struck us as a very good value for the $25 asking price.
Rather than radically improving the iPhone 3G version of Wave by adding more protection or better looks, Griffin has kept the design almost exactly the same.
Both the front and back pieces use frosted clear soft touch rubber, snapping together at three wave-shaped clip points on the device’s sides. The bottom and top are left almost completely open, as are the camera and face, permitting complete access to all of the iPhone 3G’s features. Accessory compatibility is all but fully guaranteed by the large holes for the headphone port up top and the Dock Connector port on bottom; oversized headphones worked without an issue, and all but thick or full-width bottom-connecting add-ons will connect to the Dock Connector. Universal Docks work without an issue.
There are a couple of ways that Wave has dipped from the prior version, though. Griffin’s prior six colors have dropped to four, losing green, red, and orange while gaining a milky frosted white to complement blue, pink, and a revised take on black.
Of the colors, we liked the revised black the best—the front is a clear dark charcoal gray, while the back is frosted white in a yin-yang pairing of sorts. This version looks good on either black or white iPhone 3Gs; the others all look exactly as you’d expect on each model.
More importantly, Griffin has replaced last year’s static peel screen protector with a new non-adhesive version that we didn’t like as much. Though it does a good job of looking inconspicuous relative to the case and the iPhone 3G inside, it slightly diminishes the iPhone 3G touch screen’s sensitivity and doesn’t feel as good as the prior version around the Home button; we would strongly prefer a static peel cover as an alternative.
Overall, though Wave for iPhone 3G could have stepped up from the prior, innovative version, Griffin’s choice to drop colors and change the screen protector took it down a little in our ratings. While we still think very highly of this case, and have been actively enjoying using it on our iPhone 3G, little modifications could have easily made it better. If you’re willing to swap out the screen cover and live with its top and side protection omissions, consider it worth a purchase anyway—the look and feel are otherwise superb.