It’s rare for a case to elicit such similar responses from so many different people during testing, but PDP’s NES Case for iPhone 5/5s ($30) generated a lot of talk — all of it positive. “Can you actually play games with that?” was the number two question, right after a request to pry the case out of our hands; the two usually came in tandem. We can’t say we’re surprised by those responses, as they’re pretty much the same ones we had after finding the NES Case at the 2014 International CES. After years of seeing low-cost shells and rubber sleeves that resembled Nintendo controllers, this is the first version we’ve seen that’s actually licensed by the game console maker, and it actually has pressable though non-functional buttons. It’s impossible to deny the nostalgia it delivers for iPhone users of a certain age.

Review: Performance Designed Products (PDP) NES Case for iPhone 5/5s

Review: Performance Designed Products (PDP) NES Case for iPhone 5/5s

We appreciate that instead of settling on a simple shell, PDP actually put together a real case. The front and rear plastic frames snap together around the iPhone, offering good protection: the screen’s beneath a raised lip, and the sides have clicky Sleep/Wake and volume buttons. Along the bottom, two square openings flank one long rectangular hole, which is wide enough to accept Apple’s Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter. We found it difficult to separate the halves of the case on the first attempt — it felt like the plastic at the bottom might snap — but after a few installations and removals, it loosened up.


Review: Performance Designed Products (PDP) NES Case for iPhone 5/5s

Of course, the piece of the case that most people really care about is the back—a replica of the rectangular Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Although it’s a bit longer and taller than the real thing, the look is otherwise spot-on. The coolest part is that you can actually press the buttons. The rubber D-pad, start, select, B, and A buttons aren’t quite as satisfying to press as the perfectly sculpted plastic ones found on an actual controller, but it’s still a lot of fun to be able to press them down. If they could be used as a Bluetooth game controller of some sort, PDP would have an even bigger hit on its hands.


Review: Performance Designed Products (PDP) NES Case for iPhone 5/5s

Review: Performance Designed Products (PDP) NES Case for iPhone 5/5s

It’s not the absolute most protective case on the market, or the slimmest, but we really enjoy NES Case. PDP actually put thought into the development, offering a respectable quantity of well-executed coverage, along with a totally unique back. The price is right too; at only $30, it falls towards the low side of average case pricing. Combining a good case with a great, nostalgic design earns NES Case our strong general recommendation.

Our Rating


Company and Price

Company: Performance Designed Products (PDP)


Model: NES Case

Price: $30

Compatible: iPhone 5/5s

Nick Guy

Nick Guy was an Accessories Editor at iLounge. He had reviewed thousands of iPhone, iPod and iPad accessories; provided visitors comprehensive evaluations of products on the industry-leading independent authority.