(The following review covers the Belkin Flip Case and Folio Case for iPod nano.)
Although many vendors have announced cases for the iPod nano, Belkin appears to be the first company to actually make them available — we’ve got production units of the company’s Folio, Flip, and Carabineer cases in hand and Belkin says they should be available at retail “soon.”
The company’s Carabineer Case (reviewed elsewhere on this site) is designed to provide limited protection without adding a lot of bulk. The Flip and Folio Cases, on the other hand, sacrifice svelteness for protection. Both cover the iPod nano’s screen and Click Wheel with a leather flip cover; the main difference is from which side the cover flips.
The Flip Case functions like most iPod “flip” cases: It covers the back as well as most of the sides and face of your iPod nano at all times, but leaves the screen and Click Wheel accessible via a flipcover. When the flipcover is closed, the only parts of your nano that are exposed are two small sections of the left and right sides and, of course, the headphone jack area. (Actually, there’s also a small circular opening in the back of the case that lets the iPod nano’s logo peek out.) However, Belkin has taken a different approach from most case vendors by orienting the flipcover so that it opens and closes at the top of the case rather than the traditional bottom — the flipcover’s “hinge” is at the bottom, with its “latch” (a strap with a magnetic button) at the top. Thanks to this design, along with the placement of the belt clip on the flipcover rather than the back of the case, you can flip the iPod itself down to easily view its screen and use its Click Wheel — you don’t have to unclip the case from your belt.
The Flip Case’s plastic belt clip also offers limited cable management by allowing you to wrap your iPod’s headphone cable around the clip.
The Folio Case uses a design similar to Belkin’s Leather Pouch for the iPod mini (reviewed elsewhere on Playlist). Instead of a traditional flipcase, it looks more like a leather women’s wallet: You slide your iPod nano into the side of the case and then fold the case closed; a sturdy strap with a magnetic snap keeps the case securely closed. When the case is open, the nano’s Click Wheel and screen are exposed; when closed, only parts of the bottom and top edges are unprotected. (The bottom and top edges are each partially covered by a wide leather strap. This design provides access to the headphone jack, but, unfortunately, only partially protects the nano’s dock connector port at the bottom and, oddly, partially blocks the nano’s hold switch on the top — you can activate the hold feature, but can’t disable it without taking your iPod out of the case.)
The back of the Folio Case hosts a leather-covered belt clip that rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to wear the case vertically, horizontally, or anywhere in between.
Both the Flip Case and the Folio Case are stylish and fit the iPod nano perfectly, with the Folio Case offering better overall protection. But here’s the thing about the iPod nano: Much of its “wow” factor stems from the fact that it’s so incredibly thin, so some users are going to want a case that doesn’t add a lot of bulk. That can’t be said about Belkin’s Flip and Folio Cases — with an iPod nano inside, they’re 1.25″ and 1.5″ thick, respectfully. But if you’re OK with the added bulk, Belkin’s cases are solid first entries into the soon-to-be-burgeoning iPod nano case market.