Nearly four months have passed since Apple released the iPhone, and two waves of cases — the rushed, early ones, and the somewhat better, post-launch releases — have become widely available. Not surprisingly, iPhone case releases have slowed down as new iPod models have demanded manufacturers’ attention, but today, we’re quickly looking at five recent options of different types, one more noteworthy than the rest.
Contrasting with the company’s standard, flip-closed leather Tradition cases, Noreve’s Tradition B for iPhone ($45) is an open-faced leather case design that permits full access to iPhone’s screen and home button without interruption from a lid. Once again, a detachable black belt clip and metal nub are included in the package, along with a screwdriver to attach them to the case. Fifteen colors are available, including three suede versions—Sandy Vintage is shown—and twelve glossy leather versions.
Normally, a handsome-looking, easy-to-use case like this one would receive more of our attention: Noreve’s leathers remain amongst the nicest-looking out there, and the new suede versions are simply classy. Though the company omits built-in or film screen protection, something we think should be included for the price, and like other leather cases just has holes for the side, top, and face controls, headphone port, speakers, and microphone, the case otherwise does a pretty good job of covering iPhone’s metal surfaces, and uses a clean magnetic top flap to hold the device inside.
Unfortunately, Noreve has never quite mastered certain practical aspects of the iPhone design. Like the prior Tradition case, which bizarrely covered the iPhone’s headphone port, Tradition B completely covers iPhone’s light and proximity sensors, preventing the device from deactivating its screen when used as a phone handset, and making the screen go dim if you haven’t deactivated the automatic brightness feature. Similarly, though there are holes for the bottom speaker and microphone, they’re still covered so substantially by leather as to interfere with proper use of iPhone’s speakerphone features; echoes and otherwise muddled sound can be expected.
Because of its good looks and decent pricing—by luxury leather case standards—we really wanted to like Tradition B, but practicality remains a major concern in our case reviews, and Noreve still has some work to do here. Though the France-based company has a better excuse than some for sending out cases that don’t work fully with the currently U.S.-only iPhone, it’s also had months to learn the ups and downs of iPhone case design, and benefit from the mistakes made by others; unfortunately, it hasn’t. Practical testing prior to shipping cases is a mandatory, not optional first step to satisfying both us and our readers; as-is, this case will only be useful for iPhone users who are willing to use the headphone port and the Sleep/Wake button to make their phone calls.
Company and Price
Model: Tradition for iPhone