Cases on test: Nu Form, Clarifi and Elan FormDespite it certainly having its downsides the Apple iPhone 3G has been a rip-roaring success, something that has been helped in no small part by its stunning minimalist good looks. A statement I make being well aware that some people don't like the iPhone's styling at all but, then, you can't please everyone all the time.
So if you've got yourself an iPhone and you are in love with its looks then you'll be wanting to keep it in tip-top condition for as long as possible. Thankfully, because Apple has equipped the iPhone with a solid glass screen, it suffers almost no ill effects from scratching whatsoever. However, the same can't be said for its plastic back. This scratches incredibly easily and can quickly detract from the phone's overall look. So, unless you're dogmatic about keeping your phone in scratch-free environments you'll probably want to protect the back with something.
Enter Griffin's range of iPhone 3G cases. Currently there are 12 to choose from, priced at around £7 to £25 (depending where you shop) with chrome finished ones, clear plastic ones, and silicone ones all on offer. So, we asked Griffin to send us over a selection for a quick assessment. The models that arrived were the Nu Form, Clarifi, and Elan Form, all of the hard shell variety rather than the soft silicone type.
All three use the same fitment consisting of two interlocking sections that fit snugly round the top and bottom of the iPhone. The shorter bottom section can then be removed so the phone can still be used in iPod docks. The fit of the two parts is an absolutely perfect balance between being secure enough to not slip off the iPhone while still being easy to remove with a gentle tug. I don't know what the tolerances Griffin works to when creating these but it must be fractions of a millimetre to fit so well.
Ingeniously the case doesn't actually fit snugly all the way round (it just grips the edges), with a gap of one or two millimetres existing between most of the back of the phone and the case. This ensures the case doesn't end up doing more harm than good by catching, and rubbing about, any particles that might scratch the surface of the iPhone. Sufficient gaps are also left around the various controls and other openings so that you shouldn't have any problems plugging in your headphones or operating the volume buttons with the case fitted.
All cases include a screen protector, which is described as being polycarbonate, and a simple cleaning cloth. To be honest, as mentioned above, the iPhone's screen is so tough that there's simply no need to use a screen protector, especially as it picks up smears and scratches easier than the actual iPhone screen.
As for the specifics of each of these cases, the Nu Form (pictured above) is just a case with a two-tone colour scheme. The top section has an eggshell finish while the bottom is painted matt grey. It's a neat little thing that does precisely what you would require of it. It's just a case of whether you like the colour scheme and, frankly, we're not too keen. We really can't see why Griffin hasn't offered this simple figure-hugging design in a greater variety of colours - a simple glossy black one would've been the obvious choice. Still, at least the price is about right, at around £11 or so.