Rubber case makers have tried all sorts of tricks to distinguish their designs from the plain jane generics that started flooding the market a few years ago, and though the ideas don’t always work so well, they’re at least interesting. Today, we’re briefly looking at a handful of these cases: two are from Boomwave, four are from ifrogz, and one is from CoverCase. As is generally the case, our reviews evaluate each of these options only modestly on appearance, and instead mostly on the merits of their protection, value, features, and usability; you can decide for yourself whether their looks are a turn-on or a turn-off.
The four ifrogz cases actually consist only of two distinct case designs, sold in separate versions for the iPod touch and iPhone: one is called Wrapz or Silicone Wrapz, and the other is called Treadz ($20 each). We’ve reviewed both of these cases before for earlier iPods; the major difference here is just in size and appropriateness.
In simple summary, the Treadz case looks like a flattened car tire, and the Wrapz case is the latest generation of ifrogz’ longest-standing series of rubber cases, distinctive mostly in its colors (10 for iPhone, 6 for iPod touch), and use of molded-in bumper-like corners, dots, patterns, and lines. Both of the cases look like they were designed to appeal to younger users, a fact which has helped the appeal of the company’s prior iPod nano cases, but might not be as well-suited to $400 phones and $300-$400 iPods. We’d describe the look as cheapening—not as much as Covercase’s separately-reviewed design, but enough to downgrade the looks of both sleek devices.
Each case offers roughly the same amount of iPod or iPhone protection—virtually everything except for parts you can physically push or connect things to, plus a little added corner protection because of thicker-than-normal edges. The iPod touch cases have fewer holes because of that model’s lack of a camera, side controls, speakers, and microphone, all of which the iPhone cases additionally expose along with the commonly open screen, sensor, Home button, headphone and Dock connector ports. ifrogz’ port design enables connection of even oversized headphones, but is less tolerant of accessories, particularly in the narrowly open iPod touch version; Apple’s and other small cables are the only portable accessories guaranteed to connect, though Universal Docks worked as well in our testing. ifrogz includes a simple screen-only film protector with each of the cases, helping their fronts cover as much as their completely closed backs.
Worth a quick note is the fact that neither case includes any frills: earlier ifrogz cases came with rubber band-style color accents and stickers, while competitors at this price point sometimes include belt clips, lanyards, or other simple add-ons. CoverCase’s SlimSkin for iPhone, reviewed separately, actually includes an armband, video stand, and belt clip for a lower price of $15—the only reason it doesn’t rate higher than these cases is that all the parts feel cheaper than the ones from ifrogz. Treadz and Wrapz are shipped bare; the rubber case and screen protector are all you get for the $20 asking price. We think the price is fair overall, not aggressive.
Put positively, the iPhone and iPod touch versions of Wrapz and Treadz offer enough protection that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them on that basis if you like how they look. However, we weren’t excited to see Apple’s classiest products transformed into the visual equivalents of inexpensive plastic toys, and though we’re fans of these cases for Apple’s lower-end iPods, the iPhone and iPod touch would benefit in our view from more adult-friendly styles. These are here, and well-designed from a protectiveness standpoint, if you feel otherwise.
Company and Price
Model: Silicone Wrapz / Treadz
Compatible: iPod touch