Once a fairly common pipe dream for iPod accessories, modular iPhone cases never really took off due to the challenges in designing and selling multiple pieces to form a “system” — users instead buy one case for everyday use, and sometimes another for occasions when a battery is needed, and so on. Nuu has nonetheless released the ClickMate series of accessories for the iPhone 4 and 4S, consisting of three pieces: Clip ($29), PowerPlus ($69), and Wallet ($29). Judged as a complete solution, ClickMate strikes us as somewhat overpriced, though one of the items is more appealing than the others.
Past iterations on the modular case theme anticipated that users would buy a single case, attaching optional parts as necessary. Instead, each of the ClickMate accessories comes with its own “foundation case” that’s little more than a hard plastic shell, which then snaps into a white or black accessory back plate. The shell is coated in soft-touch plastic, has separate openings for the side switch and volume buttons, and leaves the top and bottom edges of the iPhone exposed. A long oval-shaped opening runs from the left of the camera to the other side of the case; the accessories clip in at the oval’s center. Each backplate covers most of this exposed area and has a more precise camera opening with a flash diffuser ring, as well as a sliding lock to hold the pieces together.
As its name suggests, Clip adds a belt clip to the back of your iPhone. The sturdy clip can be turned through 360 degrees of motion, holding twelve different angles thanks to a ratcheting mechanism. Unlike some other clip-equipped cases, this one doesn’t transform into a stand.
Wallet is also quite simple. Nuu claims that it holds “up to three card sized items” in its raised back, but in our tests, two was the maximum for credit cards. Try to insert a third and it will get stuck, making removal of all three very difficult. The cards slide in with a satisfying snap and are dislodged by being pushed up through the thumb hole at the bottom. Wallet is likely better suited for a night out than as a permanent wallet replacement, though it bears mention that lightly magnetized cards such as hotel room keys may be demagnetized by your iPhone if placed inside; Nuu suggests this won’t be an issue.
The most interesting accessory is the battery-laden PowerPlus, which comes with a 1600mAh rechargeable call and a Micro-USB cable for power; Nuu offers four case colors and two battery colors as options. Because the pack has to plug into the Dock Connector port, it’s a little taller than the other backplates. It’s also quite plain compared to many battery cases we’ve covered: the only distinguishing features are a power button, battery status display, and charging port along the bottom edge, as well as a Nuu logo underneath the lock. We ran our standard battery tests and found the results to be a bit better than the average. PowerPlus delivered a charge of 77% to a powered on iPhone 4 connected to both Wi-Fi and cellular data, with the screen turned off and no media playing.
Nuu dropped the ball on one key ClickMate concept here: forcing users to buy a foundation shell with each attachment limits the value of the interchangeable pieces, while making them more expensive—each add-on is as expensive as a full case. A user who might otherwise want to swap between a battery pack, belt clip, or wallet attachment depending on the circumstances winds up paying for three separate cases; Nuu should sell the rear attachments on their own so users can choose the parts they want. Judged as standalone cases, Clip and Wallet both earn limited recommendations, while PowerPlus deserves a slightly higher general recommendation. These ratings would have been higher if Nuu’s pricing and bundling structure made more sense for users.
Company and Price
Model: Clip, PowerPlus + Wallet
Compatible: iPhone 4/4S