Griffin Elan Passport Wallet for iPhone 4 Review

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by RBfKC10, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. RBfKC10 macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2010
    I received my Elan Passport Wallet today from Griffin, and I figured I'd do a quick review. The case is made of leather, and is in the "wallet" style, with a button closure instead of magnetic. It retails for $39.99 on the Griffin website, and comes in two colors (Black and gray. The gray one has a lanyard, but it also has a colorful design inside that wasn't to my liking)

    While others seem to dislike the idea of a wallet case, I happen to love it. Why carry a wallet and a phone, when you could combine the two? It sounds nice in theory, but after using this case today, I'm somewhat glad that I'll be upgrading to a Vaja as soon as their new custom cases are announced. Having said that, there are definitely redeeming qualities to this case.


    I like the protection the case offers. It wraps completely around the phone, and is reinforced on the screen side with either metal or plastic inside the leather exterior. The back of the phone isn't reinforced, but is made of the same leather as the front. The hinge where the two parts of the case meet is made of what appears to be suede, as is the bottom and top flaps that keep the iPhone 4 in place. The phone fits snugly inside the case, and there is no danger of it falling out.

    Update: The leather got really loose after a couple of weeks, and I've completely stopped using the case mostly because of this. Your mileage may vary, and I should note that I did take the phone out of the case many times to test other cases.

    The 30 pin dock connector, as well as the headphone jack are both easily accessible, as is the top microphone hole (my enormous sennheiser plug fits in the headphone jack). Don't hold me to this, but you could probably get this thing on a dock as long as there is enough clearance around the sides. The connector is recessed enough to be protected by the metal edging of the case, but not far enough to be difficult to get the 30 pin plug in. I'd test it with a dock, but I haven't purchased one yet.

    As a wallet for everyday use, this case is great. There are two credit card slots, and a space for cash. In testing, I found that two cards is the absolute limit (the spaces are tight. They may loosen up with use, but I don't know if you'll ever be able to double up). Cash placed into the space behind the credit card slots was absolutely held properly, and I don't foresee myself having any issues in daily use. It's very convenient to be able to throw your license, a credit/debit card, and maybe some emergency cash into your cellphone case and head out the door, instead of carrying a wallet and a cellphone with a case.

    I love how thin the case is as well. It looks a little bit bulky on the Griffin site, but it really isn't. I had no problem getting it in and out of my pocket, and it didn't add any more bulk than a wallet.

    The home button is also easily accessible, and retains the tactile feedback.

    Now for the Cons:

    While the dock connector, the top microphone, and the headphone jack are all accessible, the vibrate on/off switch, and the volume buttons are not. This is a rather bizarre oversight to me. You have to open the case completely in order to mute your phone, or turn up the volume. For anyone that does this on a regular basis, this could be a hassle. Luckily for me, I don't really mess with either all that often, but it's still an oversight I'd like to see fixed in the next revision.

    The leather around the screen is cut nicely enough, but it does tend to cover a little bit of the screen (which can be fixed by adjusting the phone inside the case). This problem is only noticeable because of the second problem; The leather around the iPhone isn't cut perfectly straight, and it doesn't hug the screen very tightly. The result is that you have a slightly curved piece of leather hovering over the perfectly straight screen. It's not very annoying, but it isn't the attention to detail that I'd expect for forty dollars (then again, I'm fairly sure they didn't actually have the phone in hand when this case was designed. That thought in mind, the case is great compared to some other disasters)

    The next problem is the oft-mentioned flash problem seen on early iPhone 4 cases. The hole for the camera is large enough, but there isn't enough of a hole for the flash to really do its job. No amount of adjusting the phone inside the case was enough to fix this issue. If I were someone that took a lot of low light images, I would be more annoyed, but I can't say that I am. For those of you that are though, this could be a deal breaker.

    The bottom microphone and speaker are partially covered by suede, but in testing, I didn't notice any associated problems. This could be in part to the suede having holes punched in the middle to allow sound to travel in and out.

    All things considered, I'd probably buy this case again. It's not going to be my case forever (as soon as Vaja comes out with their cases, I'm going to splurge) but it will definitely serve as a great interim case for daily use. If I weren't going to spend the absurd amount of money on a Vaja (and eventually an Otterbox probably), I would have no problem using this case on a daily basis, as long as I didn't want to take any pictures with the flash (which is the Achilles heel of this and many other early iPhone 4 cases)

    (Pics removed to free up space)
  2. ldkaplan macrumors regular


    Jul 8, 2002
    N. Georgia
    Thanks for posting this. I was just looking at this case on the Elan site.

    I need something that will hold a few more cards than 2. Hopefully there will be more wallet style cases soon.
  3. RBfKC10 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2010
    Well, you could put cards in the slot behind the two card slots. I've heard it called a money slot, but I just tried a credit card and it fit fine. You could probably get three or four back there, but obviously it wouldn't be easy to grab one particular card at a moments notice. It would work for business cards though.
  4. cosmic68 macrumors 6502


    Dec 26, 2007

    Thanks for doing this, as have pre-ordered one of these in the UK. Can I ask you a quick question, do you have to remove the phone from wallet to make/answer calls?

  5. ToroidalZeus macrumors 68020


    Dec 8, 2009
    Honestly I would have read your review if you put it in the form of a youtube video.

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