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Review: Griffin Technology Clarifi iPhone Case

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I am the kind of guy who can appreciate damage. It is the way of things. Entropy is part of the natural order of events—an unstoppable phenomenon.  For some, it is hard to accept this after forking over $400 for a fancy Smartphone. I mean, you don’t want the thing getting all scratched up right?  You don’t want it subjected to the elements, right? You want it to look good!

For me, this is not really an issue. Maybe I’m just a slob, but when my iPhone gets yet another scratch on its side or back, it doesn’t really bother me. It’s kind of charming really. It signifies to me that “this thing is getting some use” and that “this is a tool, and I am getting my money’s worth”. I know I am this way and because of it, I have never really wanted to get a protective case for the device. That is until now.

Griffin Technology has a new protective case for the iPhone called the Clarifi and I am smitten. Why? Because the case itself offers at least one extra feature that makes it stand apart from others I have seen and that feature is unique enough to make me want a case whether I care about scratches or not.

Lets skip right to that coolest part first; the macro lens. In a feat that will drive every Cold War spy paraphernalia buff to yell “STASI”, Griffin has placed a tiny, sliding macro lens into the case so it fits directly over the iPhone’s lens.  It does a great job of focusing in on objects as close as two to three inches. The special lens is not just a gimmick though. As Dave over at Griffin pointed out to me, this macro lens is perfect for reading 2D bar codes at close distance, and recommended the Snapper2D iPhone app. Indeed, he was correct. After a little experimentation on my own, I would go as far as to say, the macro lens is “essential” for reading QR and Data Matrix bar codes on the iPhone. It worked well for me with Snapper2D and also with an app called Barcodes and one called BeeTagg.  It is also great for snapping pictures of business cards or other up close items. It would be nice if there were a way to lock the lens either open or closed, as it tends to slide around on it’s own.  You just have to make sure it’s not over the iPhone lens when you are taking a regular picture. This is not a deal breaker for me though, just something that might make it a little better.

Next, I want to note that once locked in place around the iPhone, the Clarifi has a solid feel. It doesn’t feel toy-like but rather very much like a second skin. Some nice, thoughtful industrial design went into its planning and construction. I did notice that it was a little hard for me to access the volume buttons on the side with one hand, but other than that, it fits the phone like a glove.

backThirdly, it is nice looking. Hey, just because I can tolerate of a bunch of dings on my mobile tools, doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate a beautiful or artful object. I can and I do, and this case caught my eye right away. Its two-tone black shiny/matte color scheme, complete with curves and modest branding, is slick. Also, the matte portion is “grippy” but it still doesn’t snag on fabric when you are trying to put it in your pocket, (like some of the cases by incase).

The package sent to me also came with a transparent protector for the iPhone’s glass touch screen, however I had problems installing it. I could not seem to figure out, based on the instructions, if the screen protector was supposed to go on before or after the case itself. It seemed to big to fit the screen when the case was on, but when I tried adhering the screen protector first and sliding the case on over top of it, I ended up fatally damaging the screen protector.  So I am not sure about that.

Also, note that this case probably offers more surface protection than real shock absorption. It’s not like some of the ruggedized cases I have seen out there that seem like they would bounce if dropped. I am sure, however, that the Clarifi offers at least some shock absorption, by virtue of being another layer. That being said, the case is sleek and slim, unlike ruggedized styles. Personally, I prefer a little less shock absorption to looking like I have a dart case in my pocket on the way to meetings or cocktail parties, but that’s just me…maybe you are cool with dart cases.

In conclusion, the Griffin Technology Clarifi iPhone case is easily worth $35 and is a testament to the kind of thoughtful and elegant technology products Griffin has been making for years. It is practical and innovative and would be a nice accessory for anyone’s iPhone.

Bottom line: Recommended!

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