Following complaints of scratched and cracked screens, Apple is replacing some iPod nanos. But if you really want to protect your investment, you should take matters into your own hands, and wrap your iPod nano in a protective case. Not only will a case keep your nano blemish-free, it can also provide hands-free access via a belt clip or arm strap, a stylish design, even a place to stash your credit cards. Here’s a look at some of the many cases for the new iPod Nano.
For many users, the basic protection of a silicone or other rubberized skin will suffice. This will protect your nano and its screen from scratches, dirt and other blemishes, and provide a modicum of protection against impacts.
Most people probably already know about Apple’s iPod nano Tubes (5/$29). These basic rubberized cases were the first announced for the nano and are made by Apple itself. They’ll provide you with basic protection from scratches and nicks and they come in five color choices: purple, pink, blue, green and clear.
If you don’t need a five pack, another option is the iPod Nano Skin from PodsPlus ($12). The silicone skin protects your nano from scratches, and offers play-through click wheel protection as well as openings for all ports, and a lanyard strap. Even better, it comes in 12 color choices: light blue, black, dark orange, white, gray, hot pink, lime green, light orange, orange-red, pink, purple and yellow.
zCover (2/$25, pictured left) is also offering a line silicone cases for the iPod nano. Available in nine colors, these cases will protect your iPod nano from scratches and abrasions, and provide access to all controls. Not sold individually, the cases come in Duo Packs that each contain one lanyard style and one sheath style case. Color options include black, red, blue, pink, purple, green, grey, clear and glow-in-the-dark white.
The nano SkinTight from Speck ($20-$35 — Available late October) is that company’s basic rubberized nano case. You can order it with or without a beltclip, depending on how you’ll use it. Though this is little more than a skin, Speck claims it will protect against the “occasional drop.” Other variations on the SkinTight include the Protect and Connect, which adds the belt clip, lanyard, caribeener and wrist strap, and Speck’s Nano armband (see above).
The Tough Skin ($35 — Available late October) is another of the many rubberized nano cases available from Speck. The silicone iPod cover provides safe harbor for an iPod nano, and clips onto a belt for active use. IT offers slightly more protection than the Skin Tight, and comes with a rugged-looking design reminiscent of a mountain bike tread.
Speck’s nano Grass FunSkin ($35 — Available late October) is designed to be, well, fun, as the name implies. Though it’s essentially just a rubberized case, similar in function to the SkinTight, its bright green case with “grassy” rubber bumps give it a unique look.
If you’re not crazy about he grass on the ground, maybe the clouds in sky will do, instead. Speck’s nano Cloud FunSkin ($35—Available late October) is another design with “fun” in mind. This puffy case (pictured right) looks sort of like someone stuffed an iPod nano down the Michelin Man’s throat, but in a good way. Like all of the rubberized cases from Speck, it comes with an optional belt clip.
But the most interesting of Speck’s fun cases has got to be the iGuy. Speck’s nano iGuy ($35 — Available late October) is a bendable, posable action figure for your nano. It has all the protection of a regular rubberized case, but will also stand up on its own and let you bend it all about into action poses. Of course, it also provides complete access to all your controls and the dock.
Some users require something more rugged than a standard silicone or leather case can provide. If you plan to batter your nano about on the racquetball court, or to take it with you down a double black—or even an easy green if you aren’t much of a skiier—consider a case designed to take a beating. These sports-oriented and hard shell cases will protect your nano against scratches, blemishes, impacts and compression damage.
The Incase Neoprene Sleeve ($20) is the only sports case for the nano currently for sale in the Apple Store. The Neoprene cover will protect it from scratches and minor drops, while providing complete access to the click wheel and all of the controls. A clip on the backside will let you hook it on your belt or an armband for music on-the-go.
For basic protection against scratches and compression damage, Agent 18’s clear polycarbonite Shield 4 ($20 — Available October 12) iPod nano case should do the trick. The hard case will keep your nano safe, while allowing access to the hold switch, headphone jack, dock connector and click wheel.
STM redesigned its popular Cocoon case for the iPod nano ($35 — Available November). The iPod nano Cocoon will protect your nano in two ways; a silicone skin provides basic resistance to scratches (and access to all controls and the dock) while a removable hard shell will protect it from drops and compression injuries. Tote your nano in the skin with the included neck lanyard when you’re out on the town or pop it in the hard case, which attaches to your belt, for more adventurous outings. A small mesh pocket within the hard shell will even hold your earbuds.
Speck’s Nano armband ($30-$35 — Available late October) wraps the company’s SkinTight case in an adjustable armband strap so you can give it your best game. A cord clip promises to keep your earbuds tangle-free while your body stays in motion. It’s also available as an armband-only option, without the skin.
For a variety of protections at a great price Speck also offers the See-Thru 3-pack ($30 — Available late October). This three-fer iPod case deal comes with three separate hard shell cases in clear, pink, blue, black and red plastic for little more than some single cases cost. All will allow you to access the headphone jack, hold switch and click wheel.
The iPod nano is one of the best-looking pieces of gadgetry goodness to come our way — why swaddle it in something that detracts from its killer industrial design? These fashion-forward cases will protect your iPod from scratches and impacts (and in come cases compression damage) without sacrificing style.
The Leather Folio from Incase ($25) will give your iPod stylish protection in a black leather case. A suede lining keeps everything cozy on the inside, while a fold-up exterior case protects your screen and body, and flips open to provide access to all your controls. The front side belt clip lets you open the case and get to your buttons, without removing your nano from its holster.
Also from Incase, the nano Wallet ($20) is a slightly less expensive option without all of the features of the Folio. Coming in black or pink leather, the wallet is a fold-over case with a suede interior and pocket to store your credit or business cards.
The Caribineer Case from Belkin ($25) is one of a trio of new leather cases from the longtime accessory maker. It features a slim scratch-proof design (pictured right) that doesn’t add much heft to your nano, with a carabineer clip and locking clip, and access to all ports. Color choices include black, white, pink and blue.
The nano Book ($70-$85) case from A.B. Sutton is the first truly high-end nano case we’ve seen. It features a fold-over flap design with a leather buckle reminiscent of a leather-bound journal. The silk interior will keep your nano just as pampered as you are, and provide access to all the controls. You can choose from a wide range of interior silk designs, as well as two different case designs. Monogramming is available in six different fonts.
A.B. Sutton’s equally fashionable nano Slip ($50-$75) is another design worthy of the billionaires of silicon valley, but available for less than $100. The Slip features a sleeve design that you slide your nano into, hence the nbame. It also has a variety of silk linings and monogramming options, and (like the Book) is individually numbered.
The Tunewallet nano ($40), from Tunewear, is another fold-over style leather case that can double as a wallet. An interior pocket will hold your credit and business cards and cash. The Tunewallet nano comes in three color choices, two styles of black and white.
Belkin’s Flip Case ($25) is a flip-up front-style case with a belt/multi clip on one side for easy access. The cable management pouch will help you keep track of your earbuds, while four color choices will give plenty of options for accessorizing.
Belkin’s Folio Case ($25) is another wallet or book-style case, that opens up sideways. It comes with a lanyard strap and snaps shut when you don’t need to get to your click wheel. Open it up, and you’ve got access to all controls and ports. It Comes in four color choices.
Difusi’s Nano Valet ($25 — Available mid-October) is yet another case employing a fold-up design. The leather exterior (pictured left) comes in three color choices, black, red and lime, and folds over to give access to all of the iPod nano’s controls. It comes with a belt loop, key clip removable hard plastic holder with spring clip and an eight-inch carrying strap.
Mathew Honan is a San Francisco-based writer and photographer. His work has also appeared in Macworld, Wired, Time, and Salon.
For more on iPod cases, please visit the Cases Product Guide