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. Sleeve for iPhone 3G ($25). [Editor’s Note: 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.]
We weren’t especially impressed last year with the original version of C.E.O. Sleeve for iPhone, which used nice black leather but carried forward an old school iPod case form factor that we didn’t think was ideally suited to a phone. Though this year’s version keeps the same shape—a piece of leather that wraps around the iPhone 3G’s face, bottom, and back, covering everything there, with elastic sides that expose its corners and top—upgrades in both looks and pack-ins for the same price make it a better buy than the last model.
C.E.O. Sleeve’s single biggest improvement is newer, cooler styling reminiscent of Incase’s designs for the prior iPhone: like Marware’s other leather cases, this one mixes two bands of flat, untextured leather with a large stripe of perforated material that runs down the center. On the back, that stripe is interrupted by a Multidapt belt clip mount that can be used with various Multidapt attachments. Though the leather on the front doesn’t look expensive, it’s nice for the price, and the mix of textures adds to its appeal.
From a protection and usability standpoint, Sleeve’s much the same as the many other iPod cases that have used the same design over the past 6 years; this is a fine case to wear on your waist with the clip, but due to its substantial side and top openings, it’s less than ideal to toss into a pocket, and designed to have you pull the iPhone 3G out every time you use it. Headphone port access on the top provides you with a way to listen to music or take calls with the device’s included headset, but you’ll need to slide it out to do anything with the screen. Similarly, the volume buttons are half-covered by the elastic sides—not enough to inhibit their use—though you may find yourself depressing one of them when sliding the iPhone out.
As was the case last year, the C.E.O. Sleeve includes a detachable Multidapt belt clip, a decent clear film screen protector, and a gray cleaning cloth. New to this year’s package are the clip, which is designed to mount the iPhone 3G on your belt vertically rather than horizontally, and the inclusion of a card entitling you to receive a free swivel-style belt clip with any order from the company’s web site. The coupon code, “swivel-8,” effectively gives you two belt clip options whereas last year’s version only came with one; retail purchasers of the C.E.O. Sleeve will have to buy an additional item from the web site to qualify for the freebie.
Overall, though we’re still not hugely thrilled by this style of case design, C.E.O. Sleeve for iPhone 3G offers better looks and, assuming you read this review before making your purchase, the option of a second belt clip for the same price as last year’s model. These little improvements are enough to merit a slight bump upwards from last year’s rating; we’d sooner recommend the Sleeve than the company’s $10 more expensive and equally control-compromised C.E.O. Premiere.
Company and Price
Model: C.E.O. Sleeve
Compatible: iPhone 3G, iPod touch 2G