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.
Of the three cases, the one that’s best looking in person is TuffWrap. Unlike the majority of rubber case makers, which have stuck to making several different single-colored cases, XtremeMac has released one double-colored case: its face is black and its body is gray. The design is a better implementation of the two-tone rubber concept first seen on the iPhone in iSkin’s Revo, without the visually busy intersection of both tones on one surface: the iPhone’s face stays black, and the sides stay a lighter gray, with TuffWrap abstracting the device’s original look. It’s a highly attractive design, and at least as appealing on the back as on the front, particularly near iPhone’s camera.
XtremeMac’s approach to body coverage is the only thing that prevents this case from receiving our high recommendation. The side buttons and ringer are both left open, as are the headphone port and Sleep/Wake switch, and TuffWrap’s entire bottom. Thankfully, the Home button is protected, and well, by black rubber. But by the standards of the best rubber designs we’ve seen, there are too many holes, and too few options to cover them if you want. It’s because the case looks so good, particularly in the sides and back, that we could nearly forgive it for its protectiveness omissions; it has been our case of choice while traveling internationally over the past week and a half.
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