Nearly two months after the iPhone 3G’s release, new cases continue to appear at a brisk pace, so we’re doing quick reviews today of a collection of options that vary dramatically in looks and features. This review covers SwitchEasy’s CapsuleNeo for iPhone 3G ($30).
We loved SwitchEasy’s iPhone 3G case Capsule Rebel and were even more impressed with its inexpensive Colors cases. As much as we hate to say it, the company should have stopped there; CapsuleNeo is an overly complicated alternative to Rebel that adds little in either features or protection, while making repeated removal and reinsertion substantially more difficult.
Technically, there’s a lot to like about CapsuleNeo, and these points are the primary reasons that it rates a B+ rather than a B. The case consists of four major pieces—a rubber body, a hard matte plastic frame, a second hard glossy plastic frame, and a clear screen protector—plus Dock Connector and headphone port covers, the latter the only added protection you get over Capsule Rebel. SwitchEasy actually includes two of the rubber body cases and two screen protectors, a video stand, a Universal Dock Adapter, a squeegee and a cleaning cloth in the package. The sheer number of pieces here is amazing, and might tempt you away from the more streamlined collection of parts in Rebel’s box. Black or white versions of Neo are available.
The problem is that Neo’s many parts make it a bit of a pain to install on your iPhone 3G. First, you put the rubber sleeve on, then the two pieces of hard plastic, the matte frame above the glossy one, and then you need to go through and try to tug out imperfections in the thin rubber’s alignment with the iPhone’s face and ports. You may find, as we did, that a hair gets caught inside the layers, or that a little of the rubber obscures a bit of the bottom speaker or mic, or that the fit isn’t quite perfect around the bezels. You’ll just need to play a little with the rubber to get that right, and ultimately, it’s the use of the thin rubber that’s to blame for this case’s issues.
Counterbalancing this is the fact that Neo is a more conservative design, without the spine-like looks of Rebel’s rear shell, and we genuinely prefer it a little visually as a result. This case looks really good on the iPhone 3G, and protects so much of it—with the included plugs in place, only the Home button, ringer switch, speakers and microphone are exposed. The included video stand and Dock Adapter work as promised, too, adding even more extra value to the package. The only issue with the case from an accessory compatibility standpoint is the headphone port hole, which is too small for oversized plugs; unlike some past SwitchEasy cases, no adapter for this purpose is included.
Ideally, SwitchEasy would have produced a case with CapsuleNeo’s looks and Capsule Rebel’s comparative ease of installation, but given that there are these two options, you’ll need to make a choice as to which one is a better buy for your needs. In our view, though it offers a little more protection and better looks, Neo’s higher price and less convenient installation militate against as strong of a recommendation; we’d pick Capsule Rebel any day. Our hope is that SwitchEasy’s next generation cases borrow the right elements from both cases to make a stronger hybrid option.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 3G