I love really cool iPhone cases, and the Third Man 45 iPhone 4S Case from Griffin Technology and Third Man Records is one of the coolest ones I have seen. Maybe it’s because I like music so much, or perhaps it’s because I sort of miss vinyl records, but I think this case is one of the best ideas I’ve seen in the competitive world of iPhone accessories.
First, let’s look at the basic idea, though you can find more details in our original product announcement coverage. The case comes in one of three flavors, yellow, white, or black. The colors refer to the frame, which is sort of an oversized bumper. For US$29.99, you get one frame and one back cover.
It’s the back cover that’s the cool part, because it’s made from a real 7” record—or “single” in the parlance of your parents or grandparents. Feel free to ask them about this if you don’t know what in the heck I’m talking about.
Third Man 45 iPhone 4S Case in the Wild (or in my hand)
The one that comes with the case is a black single, no matter which frame you get. It’s a real single that could be played on a record player if Griffin hadn’t sliced it up into this awesome case. More specifically, it’s The Raconteurs’ “Steady, As She Goes” single, which was pressed for these cases by Third Man Records.
Griffin sent me the yellow case (frame), which arrived right before the holiday weekend, and it took me all of about 30 seconds to open the box and rip the packaging open. Had anyone been watching (through a fuzzy lens), they’d be forgiven for thinking they were watching a chubby 7 year old frenetically opening an early Christmas present.
Then, because I am way too cool to read directions, I almost managed to break the case by trying to snap it on without separating the lower section which comes apart for just this purpose. I was treating it like Apple’s iPhone 4 bumper, which stretches over your iPhone, but this frame is more rigid than the soft rubber bumpers. I mention it here to save you the same mistake.
Fortunately, the case is tough enough to withstand my attempted abuse, and I’ve been showing the darned thing to anyone and everyone who didn’t see me coming with that hey-dude-check-out-this-Apple-related-product-and-tell-me-what-you-think glint in my eye. So far, everyone thinks it’s the bee’s knees, though they didn’t use that exact phrasing.
Before I got it, I had two concerns. One is how well the vinyl would hold up to abuse, and I wasn’t all that hopeful in that area. I carry my iPhone in my pocket, and it took precisely no time for the beautiful single to get scuffed. This just simply is the way of the world, and I can’t imagine anything Griffin could do to change it besides not using real vinyl. Also, getting scuffed didn’t make it look any less cool.
And I ask you, gentle reader, what would be the point of using another material? Part of the coolness of this case is that it is made of vinyl, it’s a real record. The flip side (pun intended) is that while the vinyl material itself is easily scuffed, it does a great job of protecting the back of my iPhone, so I call it a win.
In the photo below, I angled the device so that the light would catch all the scratches. It serves to show how easily it scratches, but it also serves to show that said scratches don’t diminish the protection offered by the case. Also, note that the photo above without the scratches is how it really looks unless you turn it just so.
Highlighting the Scratches
The second thing I was concerned about was whether or not the vinyl back would be snug in its frame, or if it would slide around. I am delighted to report that it’s as snug as a bug in a rug. The frame is snug around the iPhone and the back is snug within the frame itself.
So the back is well protected, the edges are well protected by the frame, and it doesn’t significantly alter the footprint of my iPhone. I can also access all the buttons and ports just fine, and the camera is in no way obscured.
In fact, I like this case so much, I’m going to pay for the optional three pack of backs. This is a $19.99 package that includes:
- 1 white vinyl record back, cut from The White Stripes’ “Candy Cane Children” single.
- 1 black vinyl record back, cut from The Raconteurs’ “Steady, As She Goes” single, from their first album, Broken Boy Soldiers. These Raconteurs inserts represent the first pressing of this single, soon to be available as a reissue from Third Man.
- 1 yellow vinyl record back, cut from The Dead Weather single “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” from their first album, Horehound.
You may notice there’s a theme there, and that theme is Jack White. He’s in all three of those bands, and Third Man Records is his record label. I haven’t looked at the three pack yet, but my personal intention is to use the yellow single with my yellow frame. I think that will look spiffy.
So if you got a new iPhone 4S for Christmas and are looking for a really cool case that’s not like anything else out there, consider the Third Man 45 iPhone 4S Case from Griffin Technology and Third Man Records.
The last photo I’m including in the review is from the front. It’s not the exciting part of the case, but I know many of you will want to see it from this angle, too.
The case from the front