TogTech was recently sent a Gizmon iCA iPhone case review unit. It has been permanently attached to my phone for the last week and here are my thoughts.
The case is available from Amazon for $65 and comes in three colors
- Gizmon iCA Case Black for iPhone 4/4s
- Gizmon iCA Case Brown for iPhone 4/4s
- Gizmon iCA Case White for iPhone 4/4s
When I opened the package I was surprised by two things. How cool the case looked and how plasticy it felt (think children’s toy). Expectations that come as a result of the looks create an unfair expectation of the build quality. It is afterall, a simple iPhone case, not a Leica camera – even if it looks like one. Once the case is on the phone, the plasticy hollow feeling of the case is filled with the weight of the phone and things look and feel better. I was impressed with the fit around the camera. The case is designed well and clicks together tightly. The ‘lens bayonette’ on the front pulls the two halves of the case together with the interchangeable lens piece completing the look.
When using the case with the iPhone camera (with the default iPhone camera app) things worked great. I really like the Gizmon case shutter button – it is simply an extension of the existing volume up button on the iPhone but it is nice having the extra bulk the button provides. It feels good to press and feels much like using a regular camera shutter button. I did however notice that when using apps like instagram and Hipstamatic that the volume buttons couldn’t be used as a shutter button, thus negating the use of the Gizmon shutter button. When using these apps, you’ll still be forced to press the button on the screen. This is more a problem with the apps than the case itself, but is good to know if you primarily shoot using apps other than the default iPhone camera app. There are a number of apps that support landscape shooting – just be sure to double check your favorites before expecting them to work with the Gizmon case.
Texting / Calling
The case leaves the screen open for access, so no problem there. The added bulk of the viewfinder makes the phone a little more clumsy to hang on to, which is the price to pay for
Button / Port Access
- Power Button: There is a power button on the case and it works well / feels good
- Volume Buttons: These work well and double as the camera shutter / volume controls
- Headphone Jack: A few problems here. The iPhone headphones work well but if you have a headphone cord that doesn’t have a long slim jack, like a Sony jack as pictured on the right, you won’t get it into the slot (see video). I have a couple pairs of Sony noise canceling headphones and neither of those ends are compatible with the case.
- Mute Switch: I found it odd that the reset hole was accounted for and made available but the mute switch was buried under the case.
- Reset hole: Available
In Your Pocket, Around Your Neck and On The Table
Including a ‘pancake’ lens along with the thicker, better looking Leica-esque lens is a nice feature. If you hang your phone around your neck, keep it in a bag or anywhere but your pocket, the larger lens looks much better and will probably be what you end up attaching to the case. If you were to fit all that in your pocket, you’d need very large pockets. The extra bulk of the viewfinder is probably challenge enough for your pockets without the added depth of the thicker lens. That is, unless you happen to like carpenter style pants with pockets the size of grocery bags.
Having the case around your neck may be risky. If you attach a camera strap to the Gizmon case, it attaches to the top plastic viewfinder piece, which is the first to come off when you disassemble the case. If you do decide to use a strap, you’ll need to be very careful your phone doesn’t magically unattach itself and you end up carrying just the top piece with your phone laying somewhere out in the world. If you use a lanyard, make sure you attach it to the left hole, or you’ll be sure to loose your phone. Check out the video review for more explanation of this.
On the table, you’ll probably be putting your phone face side down, as the lens protrudes from the back fo the phone. If you don’t have one already, you’ll want a screen protector.
If there’s one thing this case does very well, it’s turning heads. Every time I’ve pulled out the case among friends they made comments such as ‘ohh, I thought that was a Leica’. ‘Wow, what kind of camera is that?’. As a novelty accessory to your phone, designed to amaze and dazzle your friends, Gizmon found a sweet spot. This case works.
When you first open the package, you might be surprised at how plasticy it is. It is indeed made of plastic. However, as I mentioned in the intro, when it is pieced together and sitting on the phone it feels quite solid. The pieces snap together well and sits securely against the phone.
In addition to the faux lens on the front of the camera, Gizmon produces a number of actual lenses you can snap over the lens of the iPhone camera. I wasn’t sent any Gizmon lenses for review, so I can’t comment on those specifically, but the case does allow a magnetic attachment for the lenses which, for some, could be a big reason to buy the case. Without the case, you’ll need to stick / glue a metal ring to your iPhone. With the case, you can just attach the external lens directly to the case. Gizmon has several lenses in the plans, however only the flish-eye lens is currently available
Gizmon also creates a large number of accessories for the case which include a neck strap with earbuds, handstrap, silencer, car accessory stand, , remote shutter, tripod, remote shutter, iCA Flash,
Conclusion – Gizmon iCA iPhone Case Review
- Styling of the case looks great – it does actually make me want to pick it up and take a picture.
- Protects the phone well, the case fits very tight around the iPhone.
- Shutter button works well and is fun use
- Turns heads and makes your iPhone look like a classic rangefinder camera
- Attachment point for external lenses
- Difficult to set the phone on it’s back with the lens attached.
- No access to the mute button.
- Some headphone plugs won’t work (they need to be long and skinny like Apple cords).
- Shutter button doesn’t work in Instagram and some other third party camera apps (not Gizmon’s fault)
- Top viewfinder piece easily falls off.