Pros: Fashion cases developed to actually fit the control and screen access needs of iPod mini users, including substantial materials and nice gold components.
Cons: Not protective of the iPod mini’s top and bottom sides.
When famous fashion designers produce accessories custom-tailored to your favorite portable device, you know that it’s arrived. Four new iPod mini cases from Kate Spade amply demonstrate both the appeal of the iPod to designers, and the appeal of designer products to iPod lovers.
Because of the influx of a number of new fashion cases to iLounge – some from large designers, some from small designers – we are making a modest tweak to our review format solely for this type of product. In the past, our grades of all iPod cases have been objective and based on certain specific characteristics: overall protectivity, overall look, fit and finish, pricing, and value-added features such as pack-ins. Fashion cases don’t fit as neatly into some of these categories, because they’re designed mostly for looks, to appeal to the tastes and sensibilities of certain people – not everyone – and priced commensurately.
Therefore, our evaluations of fashion cases will be solely based on the construction and protectiveness of the finished products, and not their looks or pricing. You can decide for yourself whether you like their appearance and pricing, while we’ll strive to tell you how resilient they are, and how well they’re built overall.
The two Kate Spade “mini iPod Cases” we received for review are the gold crinkle leather model ($75.00) and the pink/green leather model ($55.00). They’re part of a series of four Kate Spade cases that also includes rose faux croc ($55.00) and gold metallic snake ($75.00), both with a colored animal skin look and texture.
All four cases share the same design: they’re iPod mini sleeves that don’t protect the mini’s top or bottom sides, or hold switch and headphone port. One piece of leather wraps around the iPod mini from front to back, with two other side pieces stitched in to provide restraints on the left and right middle sides of the mini. A gold snap holds the case’s top flap closed – a piece that fits neatly between the mini’s hold switch and headphone port – and a gold ring connects the case with a significant matching wrist strap, also held together with a gold rivet. The Kate Spade logo appears at the bottom rear of each case, lightly embossed in gold ink.
Kate Spade’s cases are better than some others we’ve seen from the standpoint that they actually design around the iPod mini’s shape and controls, leaving a Click Wheel access hole and protecting the screen with a medium-grade piece of clear vinyl. The company’s use of heavy and significant feeling fabrics, snaps and rings also adds a greater sense of security to these cases than some other fashion cases we’ve seen, modestly undercut only by the iPod mini’s exposed sides. Dock Connector port access isn’t available while a mini is inside these cases, so you’ll need to pull it out to sync or charge your iPod.
The gold crinkle leather case looks to be a more high-maintenance piece than its pink/green leather counterpart, with a flaked metallic body that will require a bit of additional care from its owner in order to keep from being damaged. Unlike the pink/green leather case, the gold crinkle material runs throughout the inside and outside of that case, so you’ll want to avoid scratching not only the iPod mini, but the interior of the case itself when inserting and removing the mini for syncing and charging. A basic and less damageable tan suede lines the inside of the pink/green leather case.
Fashion aside, the stitching and leather in both products is solid by iPod case standards, in the same general category of cases we’ve liked from Tunewear and Vaja. Kate Spade’s choice of gold rings and snaps across the entire case line additionally elevates their class and finish level by a significant amount.
Regardless of whether you like how they look, these are solid mini cases, and priced reasonably given what other leather iPod mini cases sell for. Rated solely on construction and protectivity, these cases score an A- from us – they’re well-built but leave the iPod mini a bit exposed at the edges. The gold crinkle leather case is likely going to show damage a bit more easily than the pink/green leather version, but then, we’d expect that owners of these cases will take the necessary precautions to protect both their iPods and the cases. They’re a great first effort from Kate Spade.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school – ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Company: Kate Spade
Model: Kate Spade mini iPod Cases
Price: $55 – $75
Compatible: iPod mini