Before I got my iPhone 5, I had been using the Book, Book for my iPhone 4. Tara hadn’t been using anything to protect her iPhone 3 except for a simple screen overlay protector. Although the Book, Book has an iPhone 5 version, I have to admit that part of the reason I had bought it in the first place was its distinctiveness and the fact that it camouflaged my phone, making people think I was reading a book rather than playing Angry Birds. However, I’m now seeing the Book, Book everywhere I go. The novelty and anonymity have worn off somewhat and I was looking for something new.
Fortunately, I was approached by two different iPhone case manufacturers who wanted me to take a look at their wares. I was only to happy to comply. With the help of my lovely wife, I have spent the last few weeks trying out as many as possible. We tested the two radically different takes on iPhone protection, and this is what we found.
Cygnett sent us several cases from their Icon Art Series and their 3D Tough cases series. The covers range in price from $18.99–29.99. All of the cases also came with screen protectors, which was a really nice touch. All of the Cygnette covers are similar in their form factor, but vary greatly in their styles.
The Cygnett Icon – Haven is a beautiful case. From the cover design (by artist Nathan Jurevicius) to the feel on my fingers, the Cygnett iPhone 5 cases are perfect for the person who always knows where their phone is. This is a luxury case, in the sense that it is for show and feel, not for rugged protection nor utility.
It helps that the Cygnett is so slim and fits the iPhone 5 perfectly. For the majority of us who carry our phones in our pockets, there is really only the size of the phone showing. And there are many compliments once our friends do see it. There are many covers to choose from, far exceeding the standard black/red/pink/white versions found in most retailers, so it isn’t difficult to find one that reflects your personality.
I am also reminded that a “cygnet” is a baby swan, and that is what this cover feels like. I have never had a case as soft or touchable as this one. It does not feel like ordinary plastic, and the colors seems richer and less shiny because of the materials used.
I love this case based on personality, but I do worry at times about the lack of protection should I drop my phone.
I like the look of the brushed steel of the Cygnett Sliver UrbanShield case that I tested. It made my phone even more cyberpunk. I like that.
One reason I like the iPhone is because of its slim design. Although there may be heavier cases, the Cygnett case will protect your phone from the majority of drops, kicks, and other abuse it will likely take, without substantially bulking it up.
This case felt right in my hand, and only added to the design aesthetic of the phone, rather than detracting from it. Unlike some cases I’ve tried in the past, it was never a problem to get to the iPhone controls, so changing volume, muting, and putting it to sleep are never a chore. It also leaves plenty of room for the camera and flash on the back to do their jobs, while still keeping them safe from scuffs and finger prints.
What I also really like about the Cygnett line is the number of case choices and designs, especially in the Icon range. One thing about the iPhone is that people like to choose a case that will help them feel unique. Cygnett offers a wide range of unique choices.
Sena cases are all leather with solid construction and stitching. The cases we looked at ranged in price from $44.95 to $55.95.
The Sena WalletSlim iPhone5 case that I test drove is a simple drop-slot for the phone in top with a snap securing it in place. What makes this case interesting are the three wallet like card holders on the back. I keep my debit card, license and $20 bill back there.
This iPhone case has been a really interesting experiment. I, like most women, have a purse with enough stuff in it that, if combined properly, could probably cure the common cold, feed a small village for a week, and stock a pre-school class with art supplies. Thanks to this little case, I see why men walk out with only a wallet.
I have been leaving the purse at home more and more often. It started with just running out to pick up the kids from school. Then I ventured out to the grocery store. One day last week, I did a whole day of holiday shopping without my purse.
Now, that said, the case itself allows adequate room for phone use, but I do find that the edging securing the phone gets in the way of the iPhone experience. Nice things like tapping at the top of the screen for quick return is a little bit trickier. Also, you have to make sure the cards in the wallet part are not blocking your camera–which you would think would be easy, except: This wallet is extremely tight. I mean extremely tight. It is with great difficultly that I get my debit card out or return it. There are three slots, but you couldn’t get a third card in there. I can barely get the $20 in I mentioned earlier. And, with the snap located where it is, not only does it make the phone bulky in your pocket, but the snap often comes undone when removing the phone. The volume buttons work well, as does the main power button and the home button. The switch for volume on/vibrate is a bit covered up by my case, but I almost always leave my volume off. I do like that the front of the phone is open, allowing me to see callers, messages, and giving instant access to the new photo feature of my iPhone.
This is a functional case, and I feel given a lot of time, the slots in the wallet would loosen. I like leaving the house with just my phone/wallet and keys. It is attractive and serviceable.
I tested out two different wallet style cases, the Sena Magia Wallet and the Sena WalletBook. I liked both of them, but for different reasons. Both offered wallet solutions to hold your phone, drivers license and a few cards, but they did so in slightly different ways.
The Magia Wallet uses an interesting sticky substance to hold your phone in place. At first, this may seem like a bad idea, in fact, Tara passed on this wallet because she didn’t want to get her phone sticky. However, I found that the sticky substance, while holding the phone firmly and securely in place, left no residue when I removed my phone. Removing the phone is not difficult, although you may worry the first few time whether it will reattach, I took mine off numerous time and it always stuck back just as secure as the first time. What makes this feature really worthwhile, though, is that it means there are no leather straps or metal brackets holding the phone in place, so all of the controls and the screen are completely accessible with no interference.
The Magia Wallet also uses a magnetic snap to hold the wallet closed, which I like a lot. I did find that the spine of the wallet was a little thinner than I would have liked, in order to accommodate the must have cards (license, 2 credit cards, metro pass, and 3 business cards) that I have to have on me at all times. Add the emergency $20 I like to carry, and it looked a little overly stretched.
The WalletBook, on the other hand, due to its more versatile spine design, allowed me to hold all of my various cards comfortably. Also, the rounded corners and the clear window for the license at first had me hooked for the design. However, after a few days I began to find the leather straps balding the phone in place kept getting the way of my big fingers as I would need to tap the top of my iPhone screen or push the home button. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but after having used the Magia Wallet, I missed full screen access.
The Bottom Line
After about a week using these cases, Tara settled on the Haven, preferring its slim design and colorful design. I switched back to the Magia Wallet because of the full screen access. If Sena comes out with a WalletBook with the same technology, however, I would likely switch.