Contour Design’s Showcase cases for the iPod have earned positive reviews from us, thanks to designs that provide good protection without obscuring the iPod’s own attractive surfaces–hence the name Showcase. The company recently released its $35 Showcase for iPhone, and it’s a worthy addition to the Showcase line.
Like previous Showcase cases, the Showcase for iPhone is a clear-plastic shell with a thin layer of black-rubber around the edges for added shock protection. To put the case on your iPhone, you flip open a back panel, slide the phone into the base of the case, and then snap the back panel closed. (I wonder how the back panel’s plastic hinge will hold up over time, although it showed no signs of wear after my testing.) The iPhone fits perfectly inside the Showcase–as well as any case I’ve tested–and the case adds less bulk than I expected. On the other hand, the case isn’t the easiest to remove; you need to release a small latch that’s so well-contoured (no pun intended) that it’s difficult to grasp.
The case’s clear design lets you see nearly the entire back of your iPod through the plastic. (Four tiny, rubber nubs on the back of the case prevent the back plastic from getting scratched when you put the case down.) The case leaves the iPhone’s screen accessible, and also provides openings for the iPhone’s Home button, earpiece, motion and light sensors, camera lens, volume buttons, Ring/Silent switch, headphone jack, Sleep/Wake button, dock-connector port, and speaker/microphone area. This sounds like a lot of unprotected area, but each opening is tailored perfectly, and the thickness of the case means that, apart from the screen, the exposed areas are recessed enough to offer protection against bumps and scratches. The only drawbacks to this design are that you’ll need to remove your iPhone from the case (or use something like SendStation’s Dock Extender) to use dock-cradle accessories, and I found it difficult to flip the Ring/Silent switch from Silent to Ring mode; the switch is too close to the edge of the case when at the Silent position.
The Showcase includes a sturdy but slightly bulky–at least compared to the case itself–plastic belt holster. Your Showcase-encased iPhone clips into the holster easily; openings on the bottom of the holster mean that the iPhone’s volume buttons and Ring/Silent switch are always accessible. You can place your iPhone in the holster at any orientation; placing it with the screen facing out lets you access the screen without removing it from the holster, whereas placing it with the screen facing in fully protects the screen. The non-removable, spring-loaded belt clip rotates 360 degrees with locking positions every 30 degrees.
My only other complaint about the Showcase is the lack of screen protection if you don’t use the included holster. (Power Support’s Crystal Film Set works well with the Showcase if this is a concern.) Still, this is one of the best iPhone cases I’ve yet tested, and one that I’ve found myself reaching for frequently when I want protection for my own iPhone.–Dan Frakes