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 Marware’s C.E.O. Premiere for iPhone 3G ($35). [Editor’s Notes: In August 2008, we received a white version of C.E.O. Premiere, now shown in this review, and on October 1, Marware released a virtually identical version of this case for the second-generation iPod touch, which is shown in the last photograph here and receives the identical rating.]
When Marware released the original, same-named version of this leather sunglass holder-style case for iPhone last year, we understood the company’s logic—try appealing to a certain existing “smartphone case” niche of customers—but we weren’t totally enthusiastic about the design. The first C.E.O. Premiere was a bland but quality leather belt pouch with a microsuede interior and a non-detachable belt clip to hold the device at waist level. The clip doesn’t rotate, so the iPhone 3G sits horizontally rather than vertically, and a clasping system holds the case closed.
Marware’s iPhone 3G version preserves the same functionality, and adds a more stylish perforated second leather texture and angled stitching to the prior design, but also boosts the price to a level that is high compared to designs that offer better access to the device’s controls. C.E.O. Premiere is designed only to provide access to the headphone port while inside, so that you can listen to music or take calls with the iPhone 3G’s headset while you’re walking, but no other controls can be accessed when the case is shut. Instead, you pop the lid open and pull the iPhone out when you want to use it; at that point, it’s fully unprotected except for a decent screen protector that Marware includes in the package. You also get a gray cleaning cloth, identical to the ones found in other Marware cases.
Of special note is the fact that Marware actually offers C.E.O. Premiere for iPhone 3G in two versions. The only one sold in retail stores has Velcro clasps rather than magnets inside, as concerns have apparently been raised regarding the impact of magnets on the iPhone 3G’s antennas. The magnetic version shown here is available through Marware’s web site for those who are willing to take the risk; it will be slightly more convenient for users to pop open than the stickier Velcro version, but carry the attendant risk of wireless reception issues.
Ultimately, we weren’t enthusiastic about C.E.O. Premiere’s form factor at $30, and are less so as the price has gone up to $35—the reason for our limited recommendation this time out. Despite Marware’s legitimate cosmetic improvements, we strongly prefer cases that can be kept on at all times, with the iPhone 3G’s controls exposed for easy access, rather than ones that cover everything and run the risk of the phone slipping out of your hands every time you insert or remove it. That said, if you’re a fan of this style of case and are willing to pay a premium for a nice but not amazing design, C.E.O. Premiere is better than just “okay;” the leather quality and overall look will please those who desire this style of protector.
Company and Price
Model: C.E.O. Premiere
Compatible: iPhone 3G, iPod touch 2G