Say hello to the new Logitech: One of the most intriguing iPhone accessory makers around.
Logitech, best known for keyboards and PC accessories, isn’t a company you’d normally associate with things like iPhone cases, battery packs, and the like. But with its new Case+ suite, it’s quickly becoming one to watch.
Following its acquisition of TT Design Labs — a company that started out as a grad school project before offering products on Kickstarter — Logitech now offers the Case+ product line of iPhone case accessories. The Case+ offerings show that Logitech is finally taking the smartphone accessory market seriously. (ABI research estimated that the smartphone accessory market hit $20 billion in 2012 and could reach $38 billion by 2017.)
So what exactly is Case+? It centers on an iPhone case sporting a metallic and magnetic rear. Everything else snaps onto that, including a battery pack, a card wallet, a suction mount for your car’s windshield, and a folding case to hold the phone up.
It’s a unique way of positioning a family of iPhone accessories, but that leads to Case+’s biggest problem — a hefty $200 price. And while Logitech’s ambition is laudable, it’s a shame that the Case+ accessories often don’t play well together. (Yes, even though that’s entirely the point of the Case+ family.)
Good: High-quality materials, striking & thoughtful design
I’m not usually a fan of slapping a case on my iPhone — I’d rather have the pure Apple design experience and gamble with any potential damage. So I was surprised at how quickly I got used to Logitech’s Case+.
Mostly, it was due to the case’s smart design: It’s a solid accessory, with a metal back and soft material around the sides. It actually makes the iPhone 5S slightly easier to hold — since it’s easier to grip a soft-touch case than the iPhone’s thinner, metal sides. The Case+’s metal back is also elegant enough that I don’t miss the iPhone’s standard metal rear.
Since it covers the sides and back of your phone, Logitech’s case offers a decent amount of protection. I dropped my iPhone 5S a few times on the floor (thank goodness for phone insurance plans), and the Case+ absorbed every fall without any visible harm to itself or my phone. Like most cases, it doesn’t protect your iPhone’s screen if it falls at an odd angle. Logitech also left the bottom portion of the case open (likely for easier access to the Lightning port), which means it’s slightly more susceptible to damage.
While Logitech’s case adds a slight bit of bulk, it’s not as egregious as other iPhone cases I’ve used. I was still able to slip my iPhone into my jeans easily, and it wasn’t very noticeable through my pockets.
The Case+ family is at its best when it focuses on straightforward additions to the core case: It’s easy to attach and remove Logitech’s magnetic card wallet to the case, for example. And the car mount, which holds your iPhone up to your windshield with a big magnet, is one of the most convenient I’ve seen.
Maybe it’s just my wariness after living in a city for so long, but I’ve never understood why so many people are willing to attach all of their cash and credit cards to a gadget so appealing to thieves. With other phone wallets, there’s no easy way to quickly disconnect your phone from the wallet, which often leads to people leaving them connected and, due to their bulk, in plain view. While I wouldn’t use Logitech’s card wallet regularly, it’s still better than similar offerings since you can easily remove it.
I also enjoyed using the Case+ battery pack, which fits right on top of Logitech’s case. It can charge your iPhone 5 or 5S up to 1.5 times, and it’s small enough on its own to keep in your bag until you need extra juice. Once it’s attached to Logitech’s case, the battery pack is noticeably bulky and makes it a bit difficult to fit in some pockets. But unlike other battery cases like the Mophie, Logitech’s battery case isn’t something that’s meant to stay attached to your iPhone at all times.
Bad: Expensive, not always intuitive
Even though Logitech sells the Case+ as separate components in some international markets, in the U.S. it’s only available as a $200 bundle. That severely limits its potential audience: Why would you shell out $200 for Case+ if you don’t drive? Or what if you have no use for the card wallet?
For an accessory platform that shines in its flexibility, it’s surprising how inflexible Logitech’s pricing is. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company eventually offers the Case+ accessories separately in the U.S. In Australia, Logitech’s case costs $30 on its own, the driving mount costs $70, and the battery pack costs $100.
It’s also clear that Logitech didn’t put much thought into how consumers would want to juggle the Case+ accessories. For example, you can’t plug in the charging case if you’ve got the wallet attached. And if you want to use the car mount with the battery case attached, you’ll have to attach a magnetic sticker to the case (far from an elegant solution).
I suppose since all of the Case+ accessories are easy to remove, Logitech assumed people would just swap things out as necessary. But in my usage, it often led to frustration.
Verdict: A strong entry for Logitech, but it needs work
As Logitech’s first major smartphone accessory suite, Case+ isn’t a home run. But it shows the company is finally taking this market seriously.
And that’s a good thing — I’ve always been a fan of Logitech’s PC accessories, and it’s even managed to deliver one of the best wireless speakers around.
As a complete family, the Case+ suite will likely only appeal to a very particular iPhone user. But it likely won’t be long until you’ll be able to snap up individual Case+ units separately.