Long before there was an iPhone, there were holster-style cases for carrying a phone, PDA, or smartphone on your belt. Love or hate this style of case–there seems to be little middle ground–it’s convenient if you need to keep your communication device close at hand. Marware’s $30 CEO Premiere for iPhone is one of the more attractive such attempts I’ve seen for the iPhone, although a minor design issue makes the case less appealing than it could be.
The CEO Premiere is made of two layers of full-grain, Nappa leather: black on the outside, off-white on the inside, with rigid panels in between the layers on the front and the back. You slide your iPod into the open case from the top, and a flap folds over the top and secures to the front using a magnetic closure. The case’s gray stitching complements both colors of leather, and a small, metal Marware logo adorns the center of the closed case.
A metal, leather-covered belt clip is permanently attached to the case and holds your iPhone horizontally on your belt. Your phone is well-protected overall, although there are some openings in the case; for example, a 1.6-inch opening on the bottom edge of the case that exposes part of a side of your iPhone. The reason for this opening is to make it easier to get your iPhone out of the case: you open the top and then push up on this exposed edge to lift the phone. In addition, instead of being closed, each end of the case consists of a strap of leather that leaves your iPhone’s corners partly exposed. The reason for this design is to prevent the speaker/ringer and microphone on the bottom of the phone, and the headphone jack on the top, from being blocked while the phone is in the case.
The good news is that these openings aren’t that risky to your iPhone, as its edges are recessed into the case far enough to offer some protection. On the other hand, Marware decided to size the leather straps on the ends in such a way that the iPhone fits in the case only one way: the strap on the right side is centered and narrow to avoid blocking the microphone and speaker on the bottom of the iPhone; the strap on the left side is wider and off-center to cover all of the iPhone’s top except the headphone jack. Having a centered strap on both sides would have been preferable, so the case could be used on either side of your body and still let you orient the phone for easy removal and use. (Such a design would also let you position the iPhone in such a way that you could remove it from the case with headphones attached; the current design, if used as intended, requires you to unplug your headphones first.) In addition, the wider strap is actually too wide, making it difficult to connect headphones to the headphone jack.
Marware includes a thin-film screen protector, as well as a small micro-fiber cloth for cleaning your iPhone’s screen before applying the protector.
Overall, I like the CEO Premiere, especially if you mainly use it to keep your phone handy–which is how many holster fans use such cases. However, the case isn’t ideal for regular use with headphones.