We’ve probably received more leather iPod cases in the past two months than in the past two years, so in an effort to cover as many as possible, we’re writing only brief reviews today for all but the most interesting ones. This is our review of Speck’s TechStyle-Classic for iPhone ($35).
Somewhat confusingly named, especially in light of the release of the iPod classic, the TechStyle-Classic series began with a fifth-generation iPod case and holster set that mixed leather exteriors with beige Burberry-style plaid fabric interiors, and has now continued into iPod nano and iPhone versions. The iPhone version continues all of the fifth-generation iPod case’s design traditions, while the iPod nano version dispenses entirely with the plaid and holster parts in favor of a stripped-down, cheaper design.
Available in black or brown versions, the iPhone version of TechStyle-Classic remains a two-piece case and holster set with contrast white stitching and plaid interior fabric lining. The case leaves the iPhone’s face almost entirely exposed, as well as the rear camera, much of its top, and its speaker and microphone set on the bottom.
What’s good about the TechStyle-Classic design by comparison to others we’ve tested is the case’s side coverage, which is fairly aggressive by leather case standards, protecting iPhone’s volume controls and their right-side metal surface, both of which are too frequently left unshielded in iPhone leather cases. The bottom, which uses a Velcro tab to cover the Dock Connector and hold the iPhone inside, doesn’t limit speakerphone use in any way, and is even compatible with Universal Docks when it’s opened. And the plaid, while regrettably almost entirely obscured in the case when the iPhone’s inside, can be seen easily in the holster should you decide to carry it around.
Flaws in the design are other elements of protection, and the relative utility of the holster design. No screen protection is included, though Speck does cover the Hold button with leather, and the front edges of the iPhone’s chrome bezel are fully but slightly unevenly exposed. Also, all four of the iPhone’s corners are completely exposed; most of the cases we’ve tested cover at least two of them, and more aggressively surround the camera than the fully open TechStyle-Classic design.
Then there’s the holster. You’re supposed to use it if you want to belt clip your iPhone, and in so doing, you’ll cover the iPhone’s screen and virtually all of its controls. The belt clip on the back ratchets in 45-degree steps, not especially easily, and doesn’t serve as a video stand a la Speck’s other cases. All this piece adds is bulk and a little extra plaid pattern; we’d much sooner see it replaced with a traditional belt clip or just left out of the package altogether. We also found that the interior plastic of the box used to mount TechStyle-Classic for display can seriously mar the leather in the belt clip upon attempted removal, so you’ll have to exercise caution to avoid damage. This was one of several factors contributing to our limited recommendation.
TechStyle-Classic for iPhone has one semi-saving grace: the price. For $35, you get a lot more in the box here than you do in $35 leather hardshell designs such as Case Mate’s Signature Leather Case or DLO’s $40 SlimCase, but then, we prefer both of those cases on looks, features, and overall approaches to protection. TechStyle-Classic is a fine option if you really like the plaid interior and don’t mind struggling a little to show it off; it strikes us as a novel case concept that could be considerably better in execution with some tweaking.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products