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. Two are different versions of Speck’s SwitchWay for iPhone 3G ($35), and a third, reviewed separately, is a play-through case called TechStyle Classic for iPod classic ($30).
SwitchWay is actually one of the weirdest iPhone 3G cases we’ve yet seen. Mostly made from black leather, but also featuring black canvas portions, contrast-stitched with yellow thread, it appears to have been designed for people who can’t make up their minds as to how to mount and remove their iPhone 3Gs from their belts. To that end, the case actually has two different, non-removable belt clips, one on each large side of the body, and two separate opening mechanisms. You can mount the case vertically or horizontally and remove the iPhone 3G from it in either direction.
Speck has also switched something else in SwitchWay. We noted in our First Look that the case uses magnets—supposedly an iPhone 3G no-no—to keep its twin lids shut. Soon after the First Look was published, Speck contacted us to say that we had actually been sent a pre-production version, despite our policy of reviewing only final production units, and that the true production SwitchWay would use Velcro instead of magnets. We received the second version, and yeah, there’s Velcro inside. From the outside, it looks exactly the same; the only difference is that the Velcro one takes a little more effort to open, and doesn’t have the risk of interfering with your iPhone 3G’s functionality.
We’re not going to claim to really like either version of the SwitchWay case. Unlike Speck’s ArmorSkins, PixelSkins, and See-Thru cases, its substantially leather and fabric cases have been really confusingly over-thought ever since it stopped making shoe-inspired designs—only its Fitted Cases, smart hybrids of fabric and plastic, have really done it for us visually and functionally. But if you’re looking for a flip-top holster, and for whatever reason have a problem making up your mind as to how you want to mount and remove your iPhone 3G, SwitchWay is definitely different.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPhone 3G