Griffin’s Harris Tweed cases for your new iPhone

harristweed-iphone

The Harris Tweed Case and Wallet are made from hand-spun tweed materials.

With Apple’s newest handsets now out in the wild, we’re beginning to see cases launched to fit them, ready to keep your shiny toy safe from scuffs and damage. These new tweed cases from Griffin add a touch of class and a feel of the Scottish Highlands to your handset.

There are two options to pick from. The Harris Tweed Wallet is the more comprehensive and expensive choice: it opens like a notebook and includes both tweed outer layers and a soft leather interior that can hold your cash and your cards as well as your iPhone. The Tweed Wallet will set you back £39.99 when it hits shelves in November.

harristweed-black

Both the Case and the Wallet are available in brown (above) or black (shown here).

The cheaper option is the Harris Tweed Case, a more conventional outer shell for your iPhone that provides plenty of protection without noticeably adding to the bulk or design of the handset. If you want to pick up the Tweed Case, it’s available now for £29.99.

Both Wallet and Case feature authentic Harris Tweed, the famous luxury woolen fabric worn by royals and celebrity alike. Spun only from wool from the Outer Hebrides and available in either black or brown herringbone, it offers a more distinguished alternative to the colourful plastic options found elsewhere (including Apple’s own official cases). If you’re going grouse shooting or sailing across a loch any time in the near future, then it’s the ideal choice.

“We’re excited about teaming up with Harris Tweed for this special collection,” Griffin Product Line Manager Keavy Murphree said as the cases were announced. “Harris Tweed remains truly of its time, rising above fad and fashion to give those who seek a luxury case longevity, value, style and timelessness. It’s been exciting to watch a traditional material applied to high tech products with beautiful results.”

Both the Harris Tweed Wallet and the Harris Tweed Case are compatible with the older iPhone 5 and the brand-new iPhone 5s. You can pick up both products from Griffin’s official store: the Case is on sale now and the Wallet will be available this month.

Best iPhone 5 cases

The dust has settled from Apple’s unsurprising “surprise” iPhone 5 announcement and case makers have been scrambling to either update or innovate on old designs and get your iPhone’s covered. I like the iPhone 5 design and it feels like a shame to wrap it up at times – but I’m also aware that it’s a £700 piece of technology just sitting in my pocket waiting to be broken and it never hurts to be cautious. Plus case designs have become better and better, becoming an important way to differentiate your phone in a world where an awful lot of people have already joined the cult of Cupertino. Post iPhone 5 release my inbox was flooded with 3D models and artist mock-ups of iPhone 5 cases but I thought I’d take a look at some of the cases that had actual made it to market.

Smoothie

QDOS Smoothies Racing, is as you’d expect from the name, an extremely streamlined case which snugly protects your treasure. The case comes in purple, khaki and blue with transparent sides and cut out sections to access your volume/mute controls. The coloured backing is scratch proof and on a raise bevel edge, with the transparent edges somehow making the colour pop a little more. From £19.99 available from www.qdossound.com

Griffin are stalwarts at the Apple accessories market and can be relied upon to hit the ground running. They have released a number of cases to cover (sometimes puns happen, get over it) the iPhone 5 market.

The Mustachio is a smooth, impact-resistant polycarbonate shell case which cases in on the moustache craze that seems to be sweeping the nation (every other Internet profile I see seems to be a woman ironically pretending to have a moustache or a man who has ironically grown one). Simple, to the point and on trend. If you’re less cool there is the Moxy, another hard shell case but with time with an understated wild jungle pattern. This case isn’t as visually striking until you get up close but the pattern has amazing texture and feels great to rub. If you’d rather the iPhone design spoke for itself, there’s the Reveal, slim-fit case which has an ultra-thin see-through hard shell and a protect rubber, “flex” edging to protect from drops. If protection is your thing I urge to try other Massive Attack albums (I’ve dated myself with that joke, both in terms of time and also that only I would want to hang around with me), but also to look at the Protector, rubbery silicone skin case that absorbs jolts and bumps but also protects your iPhone from looking good. If even that’s not good enough then you need to get serious with the military-grade Survivor. The equivalent of driving your iPhone around in a tank, the Survivor protects against sand, dust, wind, rain and being dropped. It also comes with a heavy-duty belt clip. All these cases have an RRP of £19.99 with the exception of the Protector which is £14.99 and the Survivor which is £34.99. Visit Griffin.

Ultimate-Pack

If you want to go all out in a completely different way then there’s the surprisingly inexpensive iPhone 5 starter kit from mobilefun.co.uk. The £19.99 kit comprises 6 handy add-ons for the iPhone 5 – a desk stand, car holder, FlexiShield Skin wraparound case, mini portable desk stand, USB car charger and screen protector. MobileFun also has a range of affordable iPhone 5 cases.

Pong: Hi-tech iPhone and iPad cases

It’s pretty hard to get passionate about iPhone cases as I’ve seen many in my time, but even I couldn’t turn down a chance to meet with the minds behind what they were calling “the most technologically advanced iPhone and iPad cases ever”.

I met with Darcy Dinga, Pong VP & GM and over a coffee he proceeded to blow my mind by showing me how my iPhone might just be blowing my mind.

Pong-Cases

Pong produce a range of specially engineered iPhone cases, with heavily researched patented technology, which protect mobile device’s signal strength while also redirecting cell phone radiation away from the user, by up to 95% below international safety limits as measured on the Specific Absorption Rate or “SAR” scale.

Though a carefully rehearsed slide show Darcy outlined how smartphones produce high levels of radiation and how this can be exacerbated by certain cases – coincidentally one of the very cases I happened to have on me that day. Pong cases redirect this radiation away from your head and body

More importantly, (to my radiation-addled mind), Pong cases feature signal-boosting antenna that means your phone doesn’t have to work quite as hard constantly searching for signals. This has a significant effect not only on call quality but also battery life. I live in a bizarre signal black hole in the middle of East London and struggle to get more than a few bars on my iPhone 4S at times. Whilst Pong cases aren’t magic, they do appear to make a noticable difference. I asked if Pong had any interest in licensing the technology so all iPhone cases could benefit and there would be widespread adoption but at the moment, this isn’t on the road map.

Pong have also worked their magic on the iPad and boost signal strength and WiFi reception whilst shielding from radiation. The Pong iPad case also features a Smart-cover-esque sleep-wake function and an interesting origami folding system that lets you manipulate it into a cover for various viewing angles.

“We are really excited to be launching in the UK following our success in the US. Pong is very proud of its cases, and the technology helps increase 3G/4G reception, battery and signal strength for mobile devices. Whilst the debate on radiation may be up in the air for years to come, we have found that many would like the peace of mind to protect themselves and their children while the research continues. This ‘precautionary principle’ is now being supported by international governments and agencies world-wide.”
Darcy Dinga, Pong VP & GM

Priced only slightly higher than a regular iPhone case, Pong are definitely worth looking into – especially if you have been plagued with signal problems and battery issues.

Pricing: from £39.99 available from www.ponguk.com

Griffin & Kensington’s iPhone Battery Cases

Smartphones are getting better all the time, but as the screens get bigger and more impressive, they start to drain the juice from the battery. There are several was to get round this – carry our charger with you at all times and – ahem – borrow electricity whenever you get the chance to plug it in and give your phone a boost or splash out on a spare battery to carry with you (and remember to keep it charged).

Or how about using a phone case that boost your battery’s power?

Bungee

Kensington – best known for its secure tethers for laptops – has turned its attention to mobile phones and has produced a case that boosts battery power – and then some.

The BungeeAir Wireless Tether & Battery Case is a soft, rubberised case for the iPhone 4 that features a 1500mAh battery built-in that offer hours of extended time for talkng, browsing the web or whatever you want to do.

As well as boosting battery power, the BungeeAir has a digital tether that alerts you if your phone gets separated from you (you leave it on a table in the pub as you’re leaving, for instance). It also disables it so that nobody can access the phone without the password. It can also help you find your iPhone if it goes missing.

The device costs £99.99 (which is quite a lot, but then iPhone 4s are not cheap either).

Find out more at kensington.com

ReserveBatteryCase

Griffin has also just released its Reserve Battery Case for the iPhone 4. This is a slim case that wards off dust and scratches while a built-in lithium-ion battery is charging your iPhone. The case itself is charged using a micro-USB cable (charge status is shown by an LED indicator)..

Griffin’s Reserve Battery Case is £39.99 from www.amazon.com.

BungeeAir

Mophie also offers extended battery life for iPhone users with the Mophie Juice Pack Plus. The case plugs into the bottom of the device – and when you need the power because your phone’s battery has died, you just flick a switch on the edge of the case and your phone will be charged up again.

If you need to check how much power is left in the case, press the button on the base of the case and the LED lights will show you.

Like most other battery boosting cases, the Juice Pack will add quit a bit of size to your phone – but it’s worth it if you are out and about a lot and reall rely on your mobile.

The Mophie Juice Pack Plus costs around £34 from www.amazon.com.

Review: Maroo Otago Apple wireless keyboard case

Otago
I love typing with my iPad. I’m doing it right now. But even though I’m managing with the onscreen keyboard, I much, much prefer to get things down with a “physical” keyboard. My weapon of choice? The Apple Wireless keyboard. It’s a natural fit, sleek, lightweight and a delight to type with. But it’s also expensive and therefore should be guarded from the sharp, denting forces of the outside world. But a case … for a keyboard? Who would make such a thing? Enter Maroo with the Otago case.

“The Otago case was developed out of necessity,” said Michael Shaver, Senior Vice President at Maroo. “One of the members of the Maroo team loves his iPad, but found typing on the screen left his work error-ridden. His Apple wireless keyboard became indispensable to him, so he travelled with it everywhere. As experts in iPad protection, it became clear that it wasn’t just the tablet that was liable to knocks, drops and dirt. We developed the Apple wireless keyboard case to offer our customers the same high level of protection that they expect from Maroo’s premium collection of iPad cases.”

So what should you expect? Well the black, flip-top case offers two typing positions (both of which are quite comfortable for desk typing) with corner straps to hold the folio open or shut. But the Otago also contains Maroo’s patent-pending Safe Guard (SG) Bumper Technology -which not only protects the keyboard when it is dropped, but also protects the corners of the device. This is the same Bumper Technology found in their remarkably robust iPad cases so your keyboard is in good hands.

The Otago’s lining is made of soft, non-scratch material tightly encases the keyboard, keeping out dust and debris while it is being transported in a bag. With high-quality, textured leather to the exterior, the case is also protected from scrapes and spills. If you take your wireless keyboard on the road you might want to look into one. Although it is worth bearing in mind it costs almost as much as buying a new keyboard.

Pricing and Availability: The Otago from Maroo retails at £54.99. It is available from www.amazon.co.uk.

STM Switch and Stash tablet bags

STM are an Australian bag manufacturing company that we have come to know and love over the years – their range of iPad and Laptop bags have been mostly excellent and, whilst they do produce some standard designs, they are also keen to experiment with both form and function, which is something we are keen on. So we were quite pleased to have a little hands-on time with two of their newest bags – the Skinny and the Switch.

stm-switch

The Switch is a classic “best of both worlds” proposition for those of you who can’t decide between a back pack or a shoulder bag. I solved this dilemma by having one of each but the Switch offers a less profligate solution – a laptop bag that can be a backpack or shoulder bag. Like all STM bags, the Switch has a high density padded laptop compartment to keep all your electronic valuables safe and snug. Fitted with both shoulder and backpack straps, there are pockets that allow you to conceal the transition.

Stash

Of course laptops are an old man’s game and all the cool young kids are carting around tablets (or so I’m told). One of the many benefits of tablet computing is the reduced bulk it offers over a traditional laptop and the STM Stash emboides this with it’s snug form and grab-bag-esque qualities. Aside from the main compartment it features a front zippered organiser panel for pens, keys, headphones and such and then a back slip pocket that’s ideal for notes.

For more info on either bag head to stmbags.com.au/

STM Skinny iPad 2 case review

Leading Australian bag manufacturer, STM Bags got in on the hottest game in town the iPad 2 case market, with their newly released Skinny for the iPad 2. You might remember STM for their excellent tablet carrier case featured here or the laptop backpack we took a look at here.

STM-skinny

“We are super excited about the skinny”, noted STM co-founder Adina Jacobs. “As iPad users ourselves, we wanted to create a case that embodied the protective quality of every STM product while looking like something we’d want to carry.”

And they are right to be excited. iPad 2s keep flying off the shelf and with the human propensity for clumsiness unlikely to diminish, iPad 2 cases are just as popular, making it a lucrative market. Whilst Apple’s Smart Cover upper the ante for case manufactures, some of them have risen to the challenge with aplomb.

So what’s the skinny on the skinny? The case is made from durable 300D ripstop fabric. The custom fitted, hard shell back lined with soft micro suede protects your iPad 2 from scratches and external abuse. There’s also a nice little loop closure for quick and easy access and reminds me of a smart Filofax from the 80s.

One of the marquee features of the Smart Cover – being able to turn the device on or off (or more accurately in and out of sleep mode) simply by lifting the flap – is replicated here. Another useful function is the foldable front cover for typing or viewing – depending on how you interact with your iPad.

All in all a nice little case to protect your iPad from the outside world, without bulking it up to the point where it’s ungainly.

The STM skinny is available now at the RRP £39.95. For stockist information please go to: www.stmbags.com

Griffin Technology + Threadless: Crowdsourced iPhone case design

In conversation with an iPhone case manufacture recently, I discussed the ubiquity of iPhone 4s and how the designs that we were seeing in Latest Gadget HQ were more and more resembling “cool T-shirt design”. A prime example of this of course, is Griffin Technology’s partnership with Threadless (the epitome of “cool T-Shirt” design) on two new limited edition iPhone 4 cases.

Griffin-and-Threadless

As usual, the designs were created via the Threadless crowdsourcing system, which is like a reality TV show for T-Shirts (which when compared with say “Celebrity Wife Swap” or “Can Fat Teens Hunt?” doesn’t sound that ridiculous). Artists upload their designs to the website and its team of loyal fans then vote for their favourite creations. Popular designs are made into tee shirts, available to buy on the site and the best-loved are selected by Griffin and Threadless to be made into a super slim iPhone 4 cases, which is like winning the T-Shirt Oscars.

The Swan Song and Snowfall cases snap around your iPhone to provide protection from scratches, dust, and drabness, adding less than 1 millimeter of thickness without blocking the dock connector, controls, or headphone jack. I’ve seen far more than my fair share of iPhone cases and these are wonderfully thin, with a great feel to them. The tight fit is a little tight however, which makes snapping the cases on and off repeatedly a bit of a challenge. Normally people aren’t repeatedly swapping iPhone 4 cases so this isn’t a big deal.

Swan Song was submitted by well established Threadless designer, Ross Zietz. He has been a member of the online community for 5 years and has had over 800 designs made into tee-shirts. Snowfall was submitted by Cory Remjeske, a 26 year old with 18 Threadless creations to his name.

With the iPhone 5’s form factor and launch date a guessing game, it’s hard to tell how long these cases will be around for. But until that fateful day, the Snowfall and Swan Song are priced at £24.99 each and are both available from Apple stores nationwide and online.