If you need a hard case for your iPhone or iPod Touch, you could do a lot worse than the iVak.
It’s a nightmarish scenario: you’ve laid out £200-odd on a brand new iPhone or iPod touch only a week ago, only to pull it from your pocket one day to suddenly realise that you inadvertently also put your house keys in with it. Sure, the glass screen might be impressively resilient, but that metal surround? Well, needless to say it will never look quite right again.
Now there is a certain school of thought which says that anyone stupid enough to put an expensive piece of technology like an iPhone into a pocket also filled with anything liable to damage it deserves whatever punishment said device takes. On the opposite side of the (metaphorical) debate there is that subset of consumers who will insist on taking their undeniably attractive device and surround it in cheap plastic or faux leather in an attempt to shield it from the world.
Now I will concede that not all of these case purchasers are dribbling idiots as incapable of putting their own trousers on the right way around as they are of formulating the simple mathematics of “iPod + keys + pocket = bad”. Some cases are genuinely attractive, can protect your device from accidental damage, or someone else’s intentional damage, and even add some useful functionality.
We saw one such case way back in 2006 in the form of the Vakaadoo iVak. Suffice to say we liked it, a lot – in fact so far as I know Benny is still using it to this day. Now the iVak is back for the iPod touch and iPhone, albeit under the Gear4 brand.
Don’t assume that because the iVak isn’t being distributed under the Vakaadoo name anymore that this revision is any less worthy of attention though. Certainly from looking at the case’s packaging you get the impression this is a product worth consideration.
The case is actually made up of two parts, coloured black and silver (champagne if you’re being pedantic) to match the iPhone. To get your iPhone or iPod touch into the case you simply slide the silver part off, insert your i-device and replace the rear casing – it really isn’t rocket science. The black section is made from rubberised plastic used is actually very reminiscent of high-end Lenovo ThinkPads. While I didn’t like to test it, I’m fairly confident you could drop your iPhone while in the case and it would live to tell the tale – I accept no liability if that turns out not to be the case though – pun intended.
In the centre of the each of the front edges is a pair of slits that accommodate the iVak’s belt clip. This clasp wraps around the back of the case with one end hinged with little clasps to hold it in place once attached. It’s hard to describe in words exactly how this works, but trust me, it does. Once locked no reasonable amount of pulling is going to loose the belt clip from its position.
If you want to use one of the best features of the iVak, though, you’ll need to detach the belt clasp, as beneath it sits a flap which folds out allowing you to stand the case at an angle on its side. You can probably guess that this is perfect for watching videos from YouTube or the BBC’s iPlayer. While I have no doubt that relaxing in Starbucks at Heathrow Terminal 5 checking out Top Gear probably classes me as exactly the kind of plonker Andy was talking about earlier in the week, but damn the consequences, that’s what you buy the iPhone and iPod touch to do – playing multimedia that is, not looking like a plonker.
On the subject of usability, there are a couple of small issues. For the most part the extra size added (the extra weight is entirely negligible) by the case isn’t a concern. The volume, hold and mute buttons are still easily accessible, the home button is as usable as ever and both headphones and your dock connector have plenty of clearance around them for easy insertion and removal.
Saying that, there are a couple of small niggles regarding the protective plastic screen. Actually using my iPhone’s touch screen through the extra film wasn’t a major issue. I felt that it required a touch (pun, again, intended) more pressure than usual but Riyad, also an iPhone owner, didn’t find that an issue at all. What we both did have a problem with was using the extreme edges of the screen, as the casing got in the way slightly.
On the iPod touch that isn’t going to be an issue, you don’t ever need to use that area, but on the iPhone it hinders typing speed every now and again when trying to hit the spacebar. In fairness to the iVak after a few days using the case I did start to compensate automatically, so it shouldn’t be that much of an issue. Still, having the screen and case flush would be preferable.
When you take a look at the iVak’s price, these small criticisms don’t hold much sway. We found the iPod touch version for £15 online at time of writing (going by the RRP, the iPhone version should only be marginally more expensive), which seems a small investment for what is definitely the best hard case I’ve seen for an iPhone or iPod touch. Indeed, many of the tacky, horrible, garishly coloured silicon cases which I try so hard to avoid will set you back a similar amount and frankly don’t warrant comparison.
All told there’s a whole lot to like about the iVak and almost nothing to complain about. Put simply, if you‘re looking for a case for your iPhone or iPod touch then this is the one to get. It looks good, it does everything it needs to and the price is great. While personally I haven’t been convinced that I would want or need a case for my iPhone, I know which one I’d be laying my cash against if I did.