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Hands on: Power Support Air Jacket for iPhone 5s, iPad Air

updated 01:48 am EDT, Wed July 23, 2014

Air Jacket provides protection while preserving the looks of you iDevice

Finding the right case to protect your gadgets can be an expensive hit-or-miss affair. With plastic smartphone cases typically priced at around $20-$30 and tablet cases typically priced at around $30-$40, it can be an expensive mistake if you end up with one that you aren't happy with. Power Support is a Japanese-based company that has been making Apple accessories for the past few years. In particular, they are known for developing relatively thin and light, translucent polycarbonate cases for Apple's iPhone and iPad range that are popular because they help to preserve the beautiful appearance Apple's products without covering them up completely. Are they worth a look?

We have had an opportunity to spend some time using the Power Support Air Jacket for iPhone and iPad Air over the past few weeks. What marks them as being somewhat different from similar translucent iPhone and iPad cases on the market is that they offer substantially more protective coverage than most of the competition. It is not unusual to see similar cases that protect the back and sides of an iPhone, for example, while leaving the top and bottom chamfered edges exposed to wear and tear. While often light, and helping to preserve the look of the device, these types of plastic cases are much more prone to leaving your iPhone with unsightly scuff marks that can build up quickly, while also opening up a much greater risk of drop damage occurring to the chassis.

The Power Support Air Jacket for iPhone and iPad Air provide protective coverage over almost all the exposed surfaces of the iPhone and iPad chassis. In the case of the Air Jacket for the iPad Air ($40), it comprehensively covers the back completely, while providing near full coverage along all the exposed chamfered edges as well. The only places where there isn't maximum coverage is to allow access to controls and the Lightning port. The speakers are unobstructed courtesy of machined grills, while the microphones and camera also have openings tailored for them so that they too are unimpeded. There is also a slight length long cutaway along the left edge of the Air Jacket for iPad Air that thoughtfully allows for the easy attachment and removal of an iPad Air Smart Cover. In combination, they provide excellent, relatively robust protection from knocks and minor drops that also manages to stay quite light for the protection that it offers.

The Power Support Air Jacket for iPhone 5/5s ($30) offers a similar protective and appearance preserving proposition as the Air Jacket for iPad Air. Coverage is excellent for an iPhone case of this type with the iPhone's chamfered edges protected right around the device except for a small cutaway around the 3.5mm audio jack which would be too thin and flimsy to be practical. Machined grills also ensure that speakers aren't impeded, while openings are present to enable access to buttons and switches. The only concession to functionality over appearance is an over large cutaway surrounding the rear camera and TrueTone flashlight; however, it has been designed like this to ensure that that no light artefacts (that might bounce of edges of the cutaway if it were smaller) will interfere with the quality of your photos. There are more robust iPhone cases on the market, but the Air Jacket for iPhone 5/5s strikes a good balance between preserving your device's appearance while offering decent protection.

There are many other cases on the market that might offer much better protection for your iPhone or iPad, but none that will both preserve the look of your device while also protecting it as well. Although there is supposed to be a measure of native scratch resistance built in to the cases, they are still prone to picking up scuff marks themselves - however, it is better that the case takes this than your iPhone or iPad. Further, this can be mitigated by picking the 'Smoke' finish as we have here; although clear options are also available, these may show up scratches more easily. For users who are looking for a combination of lightweight, always-on, protection for your iPhone or iPad that preserves the appearance of your devices, the Power Support Air Jacket cases are definitely worth a look.

By Sanjiv Sathiah

by MacNN Staff



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