I love a good iPhone case, but as my
junk utility drawer fills up with more and more options it becomes that much harder for a simple phone cover to make a proper impression. Still, there are those at work crafting innovative new shells for the ubiquitous iPhone 4/4S, even if what sets them apart also limits their overall utility.
A new entry into the Tribeca Artisan series of designer cases is the Wood Shell, a single-piece clip case that features an actual wooden insert on the back cover. Boasting real weather-resistant teak, maple, walnut, dark oak rose or bleached anigre, this case puts an interesting spin on the traditional clip-on.
I own a number of cases for my 4S, but the Wood Shell is by far the most sophisticated, with a look that’s casual but still eye-catching. Its sleek design offers easy access to all ports/buttons and gives proper clearance for the camera lens and flash, and its low profile adds minimal weight and bulk to the phone. The only issue – and this applies to practically all clip-type cases – is a lack of screen protection. There’s a minuscule, single-millimeter thick lip that overlaps the sides of the device so the phone has some screen clearance if rested face down, but only just. There is, however, nothing in the way of proper screen coverage, so the front of the device is totally open to scratch and drop damage. Of course, if you’ve already made your peace with the hazards of slim iPhone cases, it has a unique look that’s hard to resist.
Whereas Tribeca’s Wood Shell boasts a distinctly grown-up aesthetic, the Trtl Bot KidSafe instead combines simplistic design with proper parental functionality. The KidSafe aims to prevent children from exiting your pediatrician-waiting-room-app-of-choice by covering the home button, a task at which it easily succeeds. All other buttons and the front-facing camera remain uncovered and easily accessible, and when not in use the KidSafe can be unclipped and attached to the back of your iPhone; the ports still match up, so all buttons and the camera lens again remain unimpeded.
Available in black, white and green, the case looks solid enough, and there’s a certain charm to its straightforward style. It fits snugly so that younger geeklings should be unable to remove it (and thus access the home button), and it serves as a nice visual reminder to older kids that switching apps is off-limits. The only problem is that this is pretty much all the KidSafe does.
Due to its bare-bones design the case either covers the front or the rear of the phone – never both. This means the other side is at the mercy of the elements, and, further, the large screen cutout means that even this one-sided protection is minimal at best.
The KidSafe is available for $24.96 from Trtl Bot while the Artisan series Wood Shell will set you back $49.95 directly from Tribeca or various third parties. While neither is going to replace your Otterbox for sheer rugged durability, both stand out as interesting options in the crowded clip-on case market.