Protection or wallet? Four companies make their cases for iPhone 7 Plus

October 09, 2016

With a new phone comes new cases. Naturally, I’ve been inundated with cases, and it’s been quite a task to wade through them. This week, I thought I’d talk about the heavy-duty and wallet options. We’ll tackle the lighter side next week. All of these cases were tested on the iPhone 7 Plus, but they are available on the iPhone 7 as well. 

First up is the X-Doria’s Engage Folio Case (xdorialife.com). The case comes in black, white pink and black carbon and retails for $29.99.

iPhone 7 Plus casesFour iPhone 7 Plus cases (from left): The Kraken AMS from Trident Case; the Defender from Otter Box; the Folio Wallet Case from Silk Innovation and the X-Doria Engage Wallet case. The case includes a hard, clear polymer back and a leather front. The inside of the front flap is suede and has two slots to hold credit cards. A small piece of metal in the center of the right edge of the polymer connects with a magnet inside the front flap to keep the flap over the face of the iPhone. The suede protects the screen from scratches, while the polymer protects the back. 

This is a nice case, though the card slots are a bit tight at first. The other minor issue is the suede picks up lint and hair VERY easily. It only took about a week of general use, putting it in a pocket and using it around my home (where I have cats) before it got to looking messy and needed cleaning. (You can see it in the photograph.) 

The suede is a little problematic, but otherwise the case served its purpose. The clear back shows off the phone nicely, and the flap stays in place, for the most part. The case does its duty and is worthy of consideration.

The other wallet case I tested was the Folio Wallet Case from Silk Innovation (silkinnovation.com). The case comes in black onyx, champagne (beige) and rose gold (pink) and retails for $24.99. 

The case has a full wallet inside, not only offering four card slots but also a pocket in the back for cash. A hard polymer shell attached to the back leather piece holds the phone. The leather wraps completely around the phone, and the edges extend beyond the hard shell, offering extra protection. A suede spine offers enough flexibility to set the shell on the wallet portion, basically turning the case into a stand for setting the phone upright horizontally. It also has a leather wrist strap and an elastic band that folds over the back of the case to keep the folio closed when you’re not using the phone.

I must say, of all the cases I’ve tested so far, this is by far my favorite. It’s very clever and detailed on the design, taking protection, practicality and aesthetics all into account. The slots work well, although the bottom slot is a bit tough to use if the other three have cards in them. However, a bit of stretching over time likely will fix that. The back pocket is a great bonus. The fact that it can double as a stand to watch videos is another great detail, as is the elastic band. Even the leather is well thought out, with a smooth, hard leather on the outside making it easy to slide the phone in and out of a pocket, while the suede allows for the kickstand positioning. This is definitely a case I’ll be using again in the future, and my top recommendation. 

Next, I checked out a couple of cases that offer heavy protection. These are the ones you want if you have a nasty habit of dropping your phone often, getting dirty or just not being kind to your electronics. 

The first one is the Otter Box Defender (www.otterbox.com). This case comes in blue, teal, purple and black and retails for $59.95 for the iPhone 7 Plus. 

The Defender offers a hard inner shell with foam backing on the inside to protect the back of the phone. The front has a plastic screen protector and a special plastic that covers the home button and allows the fingerprint scanner to work even when covered. The shell is then covered by a silicone outer shell that offers extra drop protection. Flaps cover the Lightning port and the mute button, and the silicone includes covers for the buttons. 

The hard shell is a bit difficult to open. The tabs on the sides help open it, but the connectors at the corners make it hard to open. However, once open, it’s easy to sit the phone in the shell and close it. The outer portion goes on very easily. 

The Defender is bulky, no doubt about it. It’s hard to fit into a pocket, and the silicone exterior doesn’t slide easily, making it even more difficult. That aside, the case is built to protect, and it certainly has features that do that. I wasn’t worried at all when I dropped the phone in this case. It may be bulky, but the protection is there. I just wish there was a lanyard or an easier means to carry it. 

Finally, I tried out the Kraken A.M.S. Case from Trident Case (www.tridentcase.com). This case comes in black, teal or crimson (a dark pink). It retails for $39.99.

The Kraken case is basically the opposite of the Defender case. The phone sits in an inner silicone case, then that case is placed inside an outer shell. That shell includes a plastic screen protector with cutouts for the ear speaker, front camera and home button. It has a loop on the back for a lanyard, though one isn’t included. It also includes a metal kickstand on the back that can be taken off or flipped around so the phone can be propped up horizontally. 

As far as protection, the Kraken is solid. The inner case provides great shock absorption, and the built-in screen cover keeps the screen from getting scratched. I like the flaps covering the ports and buttons, and I love the kickstand. The lanyard loop is great, if you have a lanyard. One isn’t included, and I’m not sure why. Would it be much more to throw one in?

I love the Kraken and have always loved them. They’re well thought out, usually, and offer nice bonuses in the design. However, I was surprised that there were a couple of flaws in this one, one of them pretty glaring. 

The most glaring error is in the cutout at the top of the screen protector for the ear speaker and the front camera. The cutout is fine for the speaker, but it’s just a tad too narrow, and the edge actually cuts right through the middle of the camera lens. It’s so close, it’s blurred out and hard to tell at first, but you will notice a blur in the center of all your front-camera photos. That’s the edge of the cutout. 

I’m not sure if the dimensions Apple gave them were off, or if it’s just a manufacturing error, but it’s a pretty big boo-boo. It just about renders the front camera useless. Of course, the easy fix is to take some nail clippers and cut away that small piece on the left of the cutout, but you shouldn’t have to do that. Hopefully, it’s a flaw that will be fixed quickly.

The screen protector has another issue, which it’s had for a while. Because it sits slightly away from the screen, it’s not hard to get dust and dirt in that big hole at the bottom for the home button. Having seen this in the 6/6s cases, I was hoping they’d improve this for the 7 cases and use a different plastic instead of a hole, like Otter Box does with the Defender. Unfortunately, the hole is still there, as is the dirt issue. 

Of the two protective cases, I would say it’s a toss-up. The Kraken offers a few more features, but the Otter Box has a better front screen cover that lets in less dirt and doesn’t interfere with the front camera. 

So far, I’m impressed with the case offerings. The Silk Innovations Folio Wallet Case is still my favorite, but we’ll see what next week holds when I take a look at the lighter-protection cases. Stay tuned! 

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