As of today, the iPhone 3G doesn’t have a hard plastic case that we love; we’ve liked Contour’s iSee and Hardskin, as well as Griffin’s Wave, but the right combination of looks, pricing, and protection hasn’t yet emerged. The same holds true today as we review three new plastic iPhone shells from Case-Mate, Speck, and Uniea. This review covers Uniea’s U-Feel for iPhone 3G ($30).
After Artwizz debuted the unique touchscreen-protecting hard plastic case SeeJacket Crystal for the original iPhone, Uniea released its own, less impressive version called U-Feel. This year, U-Feel has returned in a somewhat more thoughtful form, offering several inexpensive-looking metallic or pearlescent colors that unfortunately take away from what is otherwise a decent case.
Unlike Case-Mate’s Naked Case for iPhone 3G, the successor to SeeJacket Crystal, the new U-Feel actually fits inside Universal Docks and boasts a headphone port opening that works with even the largest plugs we have. U-Feel’s a little more open on the top than the Naked Case, but very similar on the side, bottom, and back; it is also a bit more protective on the front. Whereas Case-Mate leaves a big opening for the iPhone’s sensors, Uniea doesn’t, relying on them to work through the case’s front layer of clear protective plastic. They do, and Uniea’s design is more protective for that choice.
In terms of screen performance with the integrated protector built in, U-Feel is comparable to the Naked Case, slightly diminishing sensitivity in a manner that most impacts multi-touch gestures. More deliberate touching solves that problem, but it shouldn’t be there in the first place. Uniea’s protector, like Case-Mate’s, still picks up plenty of fingerprints; neither company includes a screen cleaning cloth, so you’ll need to use the one Apple packs in with the iPhone 3G. Uniea does break from Case-Mate in including a novel detachable belt clip system, which is initially a little bit of a challenge to attach but ultimately works well, ratcheting and also serving as a pop-out video stand. All this is accomplished in a package that’s less expensive and not as bulky as the Naked Case.
Having acknowledged U-Feel’s positives, we can’t help but feel that Uniea blew the choice of colors this time out—for whatever reason, the company seems to always go with colors that aren’t all that hot. There’s no pure white, only an off-white metallic pearl, and no black, instead, a metallic gray, and a fairly awful gold that looks like a million disposable Chinese toys we’ve seen. While we don’t weigh looks super-heavily in our ratings, leaving that to you to decide, this would be one of those cases where we’d be hard-pressed to pick a version we’d use ourselves. Clear or pure white and black versions would have been gimmes. As such, though U-Feel has pricing and features on its side, it still strikes us as a miss; consider it only if you’re willing to deal with some of its cheapening touches.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 3G