Staggering is the only word we’d use to describe the number of hard plastic iPod and iPhone cases we’re reviewing today — over 20 different models that we’ve been comparing to one another, as well as past cases, over the last few weeks. To help you sort through all the options, we’ve assembled a few statistics that are worth knowing up front. All of the iPod nano cases in this roundup run from $20 to $30, with most at $25 or less, while the two iPod classic cases sell for $25 to $30, iPod touch cases range from $20 to $30, and iPhone 3G cases go for $20 to $35. Virtually every case offers at least partial back and side protection, but they vary widely in front, top, and bottom coverage. Though all use plastic as their base material, they differ considerably in color options and secondary materials. This review covers Incipio’s Feather for iPhone 3G ($20).
Three of the plastic iPhone 3G cases we review today are highly similar to one another: they all rely on the idea of clipping a thin shell to the sides and back of the phone, shifting Apple’s glossy white or black coloration to different colors and textures. They offer something between minimal and minimalist protection, and arguably exist mostly just to change up the device’s appearance; the more they cover, the more like an traditional case they become.
Our favorite of the bunch is Feather. Though it’s highly derivative of Power Support’s Air Jacket series, Feather takes a step or two forward on coloration and value. Inpicio starts by using a sub-1mm-thick, soft touch rubber-finished plastic shell in your choice of five colors. This shell covers almost the entire glossy plastic body of the iPhone 3G, notably using a far greater degree of precision than the competitors reviewed today to provide both body and chrome bezel protection. Only the flat front edge and bottom of the bezel remain visible, with the sides and top completely covered.
Similarly, tiny holes have been left for the headphone port, top and side buttons, and camera; Incipio is far more judicious in protecting each than its rivals United SGP and JAVOedge. Only the bottom is left considerably open, with a single contoured hole providing unfettered speaker, microphone, and Dock Connector access. This design lets Feather work with any accessory you can imagine, save for especially oversized headphone plugs, which sit a little loose in the iPhone’s surface-mounted top port. Apple’s and similarly small connectors fit without any issue.
Another major benefit of Feather is Incipio’s collection of pack-ins. You get two screen protectors, a cleaning cloth, and application squeegee for the screen film in the $20 package, which strikes us as just about right for a case like this. By contrast, Power Support’s similar Air Jackets sell for a $10 premium and only offer small benefits.
Could Feather improve? Sure; added coverage and more color options, particularly transparents, would further increase this simple shell’s appeal; a little extra in the design department could boost it into our high recommendation category. But for the $20 asking price, Incipio already has a winner on its hands; if you’re looking for a super-thin shell, Feather is definitely one of our top picks.
Company and Price
Company: Incipio Technologies
Compatible: iPhone 3G