As of today, our top-recommended iPhone case is Marware’s Sport Grip (iLounge rating: A-), a silicone case that offers impressive protectiveness and relatively neutral looks at an extremely attractive $15 price. Last week, we started to test two new cases with similar form factors and additional features — Marware’s Sport Grip Backwinder ($25) and Orbino’s Strada ($99-$319) — and as their price disparities suggest, they’re designed to appeal to very different audiences.
Sport Grip Backwinder is a rubber case for people who want any of three things Sport Grip lacked: a belt clip, a video viewing stand, or a headphone cord manager. Starting with the basic Sport Grip design, which deftly covered iPhone’s top, side, and front buttons while exposing its side switch, both speakers, microphone, headphone port and Dock Connector, Marware has added a slightly padded hard plastic bracket that sits permanently inside the silicone rubber shell, and protrudes out its back, offering pieces to wrap your headphone cord around, and a mount for a detachable, ratcheting belt clip.
The clip moves in 45-degree increments with 360 degrees of freedom, and doesn’t interfere with your use of the headphone cord manager. When attached, it can be positioned to let you prop the iPhone on its side for video viewing—a great feature—and it can be detached to slim the case down, though not nearly as much as the standard Sport Grip.
Marware’s silicone rubber leaves a hole for the iPhone’s camera, has two grips to hold the end of your headphone wires, and comes in four colors (blue, black, pink, or frosted clear). As with all of Marware’s other iPhone cases, Sport Grip Backwinder also comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth and clear protective film for iPhone’s face.
While Backwinder is basically the epitome of extended functionality in a neutral style, Orbino’s Strada puts high style first and functionality second. Hand-stitched and made from premium Italian leather, each Strada case comes with a thick clear screen protector, which drops loosely into the leather enclosure and requires more forceful presses to register button taps, as well as a black velvet wrap and a dual purpose, two-position polished metal belt clip. There’s a very thin (Apple cable only) Dock Connector hole at the bottom, two tiny bottom holes for both the speaker and the microphone, and two large holes on top for iPhone’s top sides, as well as a camera hole on the back. A top rear snap holes your iPhone in place inside.
Callers reported that we sounded slightly muffled, but still generally audible, when iPhone was in Strada, an issue we didn’t have with the Sport Grips.
The clip doubles as a viewing mount, capable of serving as a vertical stand for iPhone’s speakerphone or iPod modes, and a horizontal stand for video playback. A screw holds the stand-slash-clip in place on Strada’s back, and is removed whenever you want to switch its position from vertical to horizontal. While not as convenient as most of the ratcheting clips we’ve seen, including Marware’s, Orbino’s is beautiful and certainly more luxurious than metal alternatives we’ve seen from premium leather case competitors such as Vaja.
That’s what you’d expect from the pricing. Strada starts out expensive by iPhone case standards, and works its way up in price as you customize the color and texture of the leather: standard black, pecan, brown and red leather versions are available at the $99 base price, with ostrich versions at $249, and crocodile at $319; you can also custom-design a version with your preferred leather, stitching, trim and embossing starting at $129.