Leather iPod and iPhone cases fall into three major categories these days: “play-through” designs that let you see the device’s screen, “flip-style” designs that inconveniently cover the screen and controls with a flap that needs to be opened every time you want to use them, and “sleeves,” which are little more than gloves that require you to slide the entire device in and out to use it. Today, we’re briefly reviewing 17 new cases for the iPod nano 4G, iPod classic, iPod touch 2G, and iPhone 3G from eight different companies. We’re starting with nine flip-style cases, two from Noreve: Tradition for iPod nano 4G ($40-$50) and Tradition for iPod touch 2G ($50-$60).
By now, our view of flip-style cases should be very clear: we can tolerate them for pre-touchscreen iPods, but really do not like them for touchscreen iPods or iPhones, as these devices rely so much on their screens for control that the lids on flip cases are nothing more than an encumbrance. Rare is the flip case that we like enough to consider it worthy of an exception to this standard, but on occasion, a company comes up with something that’s either so attractive-looking or versatile that we consider it worthy of our general recommendation.
Our feelings are mixed on Noreve’s Tradition cases for iPod nano 4G ($40-$50) and iPod touch 2G ($50-$60). Whereas the iPod nano version continues the company’s past history of designing good flip cases for this model, offering 15 different and legitimately nice leather color options—including three sold at a premium in suede versions—the iPod touch case suffers from the same practicality issues we’ve noted in prior touch flip cases.
Both come with metal belt clip nubs and plastic belt clips, as well as a screwdriver to attach or remove the nub from the case.
If you’ve followed any of Noreve’s past nano cases, the latest nano Tradition won’t come as much of a surprise. With only two exceptions, the case looks just the same as the prior second-generation nano version, down to the open top corners and exposed bottom headphone port right corner. There’s a metal Noreve logo on the face, and a metal screw on the back. Inside the case, there’s still an embossed Noreve pattern, now with the company’s name rather than its logo, and the interior tailoring is a little imprecise, but not offensively so. The only real change here is the addition of a snap to hold the lid closed, rather than the magnets found in the prior versions of this case.
We prefer the look and simplicity of the magnet approach.
Despite our reluctance to recommend cases of this sort to touchscreen device users, the iPod nano case remains a legitimately good option—assuming that you’re not a heavy video user. Tailoring and the new snap tab take away a little bit from our otherwise positive views of Tradition’s nice, color-selectable leather body, but if you’re looking for a step above the typical leather case in terms of material quality or customization, this is a solid option.
The iPod touch version of this case isn’t like the iPod classic one we’ve previously reviewed. It’s more expensive by $10, and there’s less leather involved: Noreve has taken a shortcut that we’ve gone on record as actively disliking in competing products, doing little more than placing side rails on one half of its leather to loosely hold the iPod touch in place, and then using a snap on the lid to keep the touch from sliding out when the case is closed. There’s a single card holder inside the flap, which opens to the bottom of the touch, as the nano version does with the nano.
Simply put, Tradition for iPod touch manages to leave more of the device exposed than Griffin’s similar Elan Convertible—volume controls, corners, Dock Connector and headphone ports alike—even though it doesn’t have anywhere near the versatility and design challenges to deal with.