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ATPM 15.05
May 2009


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Accessory Review

by Chris Lawson,

Core Case for iPhone 3G


Developer: Core Cases

Price: $30

Requirements: iPhone 3G

Trial: None

Plastic, leather, and rubber iPhone cases are a dime a dozen. Metal cases are a little harder to find, but they’re out there. Core Cases makes one of the better-looking ones, and at an MSRP of just $30, it’s actually cheaper than a lot of less durable cases.


The Core Case for iPhone 3G is another slider design, like previous cases from the company.

The basic design has been around since Core Cases’ iPod days (they started as an iPod case company in 2005). Two sheets of aluminum are stamped into a shape that allows them to slide together, encasing the iPhone 3G in a layer of protective metal. A screen protector is thoughtfully included with the case and covers the entire iPhone screen with cutouts for the Home button and speaker (earpiece). Three colors are available—black, reviewed here; purple, for Prince fans the world over; and brushed silver, which looks like it would match up well with a white iPhone.


The black case matches the iPhone’s design superbly, although you can see that the fit in the upper left corner isn’t quite perfect.

A slider design has some advantages over a hinged design. Core Cases touts the lack of added bulk from a hinge, though 1/8″ of width or height (based on the hinge of the PDO Aluminum V2 iPod case) is hardly a deal-breaker in most scenarios. The slider design is probably less likely to pop completely open if you happen to drop your phone, too, although I’ll touch on that point more in a moment. It’s marginally more difficult to remove the phone from a slider case than from a hinged case, but that’s probably not an issue unless you’re swapping cases often.


The inside of the case is lined with soft EVA “foam rubber” to prevent scratches.

The Core Case works well and looks great. The soft foam-rubber lining keeps the aluminum from scratching the plastic parts of the iPhone, yet it’s easy to remove the phone from the case if you need to. The fit and finish of the case aren’t perfect, though—the slider had a tendency to open up when removing it from my shirt pocket. This can be a recipe for disaster if you grab the phone out of a pocket quickly and the slider pops open, leaving the phone’s screen especially vulnerable. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix by squeezing the sides of the top case inward slightly to give it a tighter fit.


The deep headphone jack cutout is highly protective yet big enough for even the largest headphone plugs.

The top left corner of the case is also slightly deeper than the top right corner, leaving a noticeable gap between the screen and case in that corner. Again, you can gently bend the corner of the case inward to help alleviate the problem, but it doesn’t totally fix it. Aluminum is a soft metal, and without an iPhone in it, the Core Case—especially the faceplate—feels fragile. This and the previous problem could be issues with the stamping process being slightly out of whack, or they might just be indicative of a mildly defective case that slipped past QA at the factory. I don’t think the corner fit, in particular, is a big deal at all, but it’s a bit of a visual distraction when you start noticing that your iPhone looks slightly crooked all the time.


The dock connector area is sort of exposed, but there’s not a lot more you could cover without making it impossible to connect a sync cable.

The Core Case allows easy access to all the buttons and ports on the iPhone 3G, including the camera. The cutout for the volume and silent buttons is a little bigger than it probably needs to be, leaving that area of the phone somewhat exposed. While discussing this with a friend, the thought came up that this might be to preserve phone reception, but the iPhone 3G’s antenna is actually near the dock connector. Since the Core Case is metal, it’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t seem to have any effect at all on 3G, EDGE, or Wi-Fi reception. Continuing around the case, the headphone jack cutout is large enough to accommodate almost any headphone plug but definitely deep enough to protect the area around the headphone jack.


The cutout for the volume and silent buttons is a little bigger than it really needs to be.

Anodized aluminum is a fairly smooth substance, so it can be a bit of a challenge to grab the Core Case out of a tight shirt pocket, and the case has a tendency to slide around the car or one’s lap if it’s left out. On the flip side, it’s far easier to remove from a pants pocket than any silicone “skin” case, the latter having the unfortunate tendency to turn pockets inside-out. Another virtue of the smooth surface is its compatibility with accessories such as the iFlyz that use suction cups to mount the iPhone.


The Core Case has a smooth back, ideal for engraving or for sliding around your dashboard.

Overall, the Core Case is a really nice case. It’s a great value. It’s well thought-out and fairly elegant in its design. There are some minor flaws and room for improvement, however, which hold it back from the highly coveted and rare Excellent rating.

Reader Comments (1)

Matt Perl · May 4, 2009 - 22:50 EST #1
I've used a Core Case for my iPod Classic for several years and love it. I've bought several for myself, and for my sons' iPods. My iPod's survived several drops without a scratch. Corey, the guy who owns the company, has always been very receptive to my queries too.

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