If you think about it it’s kinda funny that we love our high tech goods in leather. We’ve got all this shiny plastic and metal and we protect it with ridiculously old technology. But somehow it works, and it does a heck of a job protecting the device, too.
Today JAMM’s microscope falls upon the two cases from Sena for the iPhone (and iPhone 3G — for one of ‘em). One is a simple leather slip case and the other lets you dock without ever having to take the phone out of its protective shell. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sena from friends of mine, so I was pretty anxious to check these cases out.
Hit the jump for a full review with lots of pictures.
So let’s split this review up into two parts and attack the docked case first! GO!
The design consists of a vertical flap that protects the screen when closed, and an almost full-body design that leaves only the corners open to scratches. Once inside, the iPhone is very secure and it won’t come out even if the case is held upside down. There’s also an optional belt clip (Sena gives you a tool to add or remove it at will), but more on that later.
The texture of the leather really shows the quality of the case. I’ve owned a few leather holsters before this, but I’ve definitely joined that crowd of Sena fans that says “ooo, what a difference it makes!”. The case is a pleasure to hold in the hand, and the added thickness from the leather makes the iPhone very easy to grasp in your hand.
This was my first time ever using a flip style case for any device and the design certainly took a bit of getting used to. It looks stunning when you keep the lid closed and it’s on your belt or on the table, but my iPhone has basically become a clamshell in terms of usage. Having to open the flap every single time was a bit of a pain at first, and I also didn’t like the way the flap just hung there while I used my phone, so I’ve taken to just cupping the phone and flap in my hand while I use the device. On the other hand, resting the device on a desk is better than ever, since the flap will keep the device resting at an angle so the screen is easier to see.
While I’m now used to the idea of having a flap, I definitely wish there was some way to secure the whole thing. The flap is magnetically sealed at the front and is quite secure, but I wish the magnet would also attach to the back of the case so I don’t have to hold it there while it’s in use. That would be my dream flip case design
Speaking of holding, though…one thing I discovered one week into using this case is that it has a pocket right behind the lid. It’s a very tight squeeze, but you can put cards and bills in there if you want to.
The screen is a little harder to access from inside the case, but I’ve found that there’s plenty of space to hit buttons on the side of the screen (like in to do list programs), so this isn’t too big a deal. Typing is also quite easy, although, the top bar in programs like Safari are definitely more difficult.
Now to the flap itself: it offers great protection and style, but it gets in the way of the camera. There is, of course, a cut-out for the camera lens, but it’s always blocked by the flap unless you take the trouble to hold it up and out of the way. There’s also a bit of a snag if your earphone plugs are higher than normal, as the flap will end up hitting or getting blocked by your earphone jack when you try to open the case. Not a big problem, but worth mentioning. I have to adjust my Shures a little when I open the case up.
As for the claims of dockability, Sena ain’t lying, folks. The docking can be a little stiff, but it definitely works. You just have to press down on the iPhone more than you would if it were naked.
Last but not least, we have the belt clip. I have very little experience with these plastic belt clips (I prefer them to be made out of metal), but this one is pretty awesome. It seems to be a two-stage locking mechanism. You click the case into the clip once and it will rotate freely, but remain locked on your belt. Click it in one step further and it will be locked at that angle. I love this design because I don’t really like having my phone rotating as I move or sit down, and it’s great to hear and feel both clicks as you place your iPhone on your belt. The only negative here (and it’s a small one) is that the top of the belt clip is just a little sharp and would dig into my side when I first received the case. I took it upon myself to file the corners down (willing them duller didn’t seem to work) and this hasn’t been a problem since.
Alright, this case is a lot simpler, but it’s scoring all the same quality points as the dockable case in my book. The colour is not quite my favourite, but there’s some intelligent design at work here in a seemingly simple case. Unlike the dockable case, this pouch fits both the 2G and 3G iPhones.
The slim pouch has an opening at the top and speaker holes at the bottom. The front shows the Sena logo and the rest is richly coloured leather. It slips into your pocket quite easily, and its insides are very soft to the touch so there’s no worry about bits of dust scratching the iPhone up. Putting the case in your purse or a large pocket full of iPhone-scratching objects is another case altogether since the top of the phone is completely exposed.
In terms of fit, the iPhone is quite secure when it’s inside. To take the device out you just have to squeeze the bottom of the case and it will appear like, well, like ice cream (unless I’m the only one who remembers those ice cream bars you squeeze up from the bottom…). I also liked how the case has enough of a form on its own, so that it’s easy enough to stuff back into your pocket when you’re using your iPhone. Other pouches in this form factor can be just a little too thin, so they can be like trying to jam(m) a handkerchief back into your pocket with just the tips of your fingers.
I’ve had both cases for three weeks now and I’m really, really impressed with the quality and the design here. Sena has their bases well covered with these two offerings, and this experience has made me really want an iPhone 3G just so I can keep up with their latest designs.
If you’re even remotely interested in leather cases, look no further than Sena’s designs. They’re not the cheapest ones out on the market, but they’re definitely leagues beyond the competition!
Sena Dockable Case – fits 2G iPhone, $52
Sena UltraSlim Pouch – fits 2G/3G iPhones, $30