Since the iPhone was released in late June, many companies have released rubber iPhone cases, and as always, some are better than others. In late October, three companies added new options to the list: XtremeMac released TuffWrap ($20), Tunewear released Icewear ($30), and DLO released its second version of Jam Jacket ($20). All three cases represent steps up from the earliest iPhone cases we’ve seen, and two offer big visual twists on prior cases, but none is as ideally polished as we’d hope for in a late 2007 design.
These cases have several things in common. First, they’re all roughly equivalent in protection. Every one covers the same general parts of the iPhone and leaves others exposed: they all have holes on their bottoms, faces, sides, and backs, and each remedies the face holes with clear film face protectors. DLO surprisingly includes three face protectors in the package, while the other companies each include one. They all leave iPhone’s headphone port, camera, and full bottom exposed, permitting complete and unfettered use of all of the device’s features. None includes a belt clip or other back design. And all three are built with grippy sides to make the smooth iPhone less slippery in your hands.
Tunewear’s Icewear had the potential to be the best of the bunch. The company has released many generations of the Icewear design, a high-quality clear rubber case that coats iPods in a thick layer of what looks like ice. Like TuffWrap, it’s only sold in a single version—the all-clear case shown here—rather than in multiple tints. Sometimes the Icewear designs look incredibly good on iPods, and are priced aggressively. Sometimes they don’t, or are not.
For iPhone, Icewear isn’t as cool in person as it looks in some photos. Without an iPhone inside, it looks impressive, with well-designed edges, the family’s classically line-gripped sides, and precisely cut holes where you’d expect them. Rather than exposing the side volume buttons, Tunewear nicely covers them with easily pressed, specially molded bubble-like button covers that are built into the case.
But then there are the odd things: first, Tunewear’s rubber looks and feels just a little too thick. Unlike the other cases, this case has a Home button cutout, and the rubber’s thick enough that the button becomes a chore to depress. The side ringer switch is also a bit hard to access. And like some other Icewears, this one looks a little awkward when it’s on the iPhone, showing lots of “wet” spots, and bulking it up just a little too much. During our travels, we found it to be a pain to pull out and stick into tight pockets—it’s better suited to being tossed in a bag.
The only other major distinction between the cases is their pricing: Tuffwrap and Jam Jacket sell for $20 each, while Icewear sells for $30. Our view is that TuffWrap has the best looks and ease of use, but isn’t amazing in protectiveness, the only reason it falls short of our A- rating and high recommendation. The new Jam Jacket is a good value but the closest to generic in looks—a flat B offering—while Icewear is eye-catching but has some execution issues, and came very close to our B- rating because of the overly recessed Home button, wet look, and thickness. We’d pick Tuffwrap first, but if you prefer the design of one of the alternatives, we wouldn’t discourage you from considering either one.
Company and Price
Models: Icewear for iPhone