Every new Apple device release is inevitably followed by plenty of cases from various manufactures that all look pretty similar. With the iPhone 5c, however, this seems to be even more true, as we’ve been seeing similar styles repeatedly appearing from disparate companies. Incipio has launched two new variants on its [OVRMLD] case — [OVRMLD] Clear ($35) and Rowan ($30) — while Skech has Bello ($20), which very closely mirrors the former company’s clear case. [OVRMLD] Clear and Bello combine plastic and rubber, while Rowan is all rubber, but in two textures. Despite the material differences, however, the three clearly resemble each other.
Due largely to its single-material design, it’s fair to say Rowan is the least complex of the bunch. A rear piece of sturdy rubber has a checkered texture, with raised, crosshatched squares contrasting with flat ones. That piece lays on top of a second piece of rubber that forms the body of the case along with a border running around the front edge. These are two-tone designs on four of the five color options, although there’s also a black-on-black version available. The openings are all pretty standard for this level of case, with one for the side switch and three along the bottom for the ports. Unfortunately, button coverage is a major issue here—surprisingly something that Incipio usually gets right. Only the volume down button works properly; the volume up button is completely non-functional and the Sleep/Wake button works only when pushed very hard, and provides no tactile feedback. It’s disappointing, considering the rest of the case is just fine.
[OVRMLD] Clear is almost identical to the plastic-backed, rubber-bordered original, with one big difference: it’s transparent. The clear plastic expertly transitions into clear rubber, making for a case that can truly show off the colorful shell of the iPhone 5c. You can’t tell just by looking that the company was working with two different materials, which is an impressive feat. Incipio also got the buttons right with this one; all three click with a pleasant tactility, although the rubber does make the Sleep/Wake control just a bit stickier than we’d otherwise like. It’s a really small issue, however.
Bello is also a rubber and plastic case, coming in iPhone 5c-matching colors, plus three additional translucent shades. This one has a bit less rubber than the other two, forming the front edge while dipping in to protect the buttons and wrap around the port openings. The clear, colored back has more angled edges, but it’s nothing objectionable—just different. As for the buttons? Yes, they work just fine.
In theory, all three of these cases are good choices for iPhone 5c owners, but it turns out we can’t recommend Rowan. It’s almost certain that Incipio will fix the button issues, but since we rate on what we’re sent, it comes in at a C+. [OVRMLD] Clear and Bello are both worthy of our strong general recommendation, however. [OVRMLD] Clear is a really cool case, but the price is high in the current landscape of iPhone 5c protection. Bello is a little less impressive, but still a strong contender.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 5c