Review: Griffin Clarifi iPhone 3G Case

Griffin Clarifi iPhone 3G Case

I just received the Griffin Clarifi, an iPhone 3G case with a built-in lens that gives you clear close-up pictures. The iPhone 3G (as well as the first generation iPhone) did a very poor job of taking close-up pictures. No matter how good your display is, if you feed it garbage that’s what you’ll get. I tried on many occasions to take pictures of magazines with the iPhone (and iPhone 3G) but the text in the pictures would turn out illegible or just barely readable. Not any more.

Griffin Clarifi iPhone 3G Case

The Clarifi as a case is quite handsome and comes with a screen protector and a cleaning cloth. After applying the screen protector, which resulted in a couple of bubbles (no worries), I proceeded to put the Clarifi on the my iPhone 3G. The bottom 1/3 of the case detaches and you simply slide your iPhone 3G into the top 2/3 of the case. The feeling when the iPhone 3G slides into the Clarifi is best described as “fits like a glove”; it feels premium. Very well done. Once the iPhone 3G is in place, place the bottom 1/3 back on and you’re protected. The case exposes all the necessary ports and buttons of the iPhone 3G. I’m not sure if you can use Apple’s iPhone 3G dock with the Clarifi on. I can’t test it since I simply use the USB cable. The Clarifi will come in handy as it will both protect my iPhone 3G and allow me to take quick shots of close-ups when I go to the Consumer Electronics Show in a couple of weeks. Picture comparisons after the jump.

To make use of the built-in lens, all you have to do is slide the lens to the left and cover the iPhone’s lens. Some have complained that there isn’t a lock mechanism for the Clarifi lens. I didn’t feel as though you needed one since the Clarifi lens slid with enough friction that I didn’t think it would slide back by itself.  The sliding action, again, is very nice and of high quality: those folks at Griffin did a lot of usability studies, I’m sure.

griffin_clarifi_04Clarifi lens: OFF

griffin_clarifi_03Clarifi lens: ON

As you can see from the first set of pictures, the Clarifi really does work quite well. I took pictures at the same distances (+/- a tiny little bit). The first picture (top) of the insert that came with the Clarifi is quite blurry; you can read it but is difficult. The second picture is sharp and quite legible.

griffin_clarifi_02Clarifi lens: OFF

griffin_clarifi_01Clarifi lens: ON

I then took a picture of the top-left portion of a page out of BusinessWeek (page 92, December 29, 2008, “Tech & You”). As you can see the Clarifi lens does help quite a bit in sharpening up the text; even the picture of HP’s Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition looks sharper. Not all of the text is super-sharp but the text is generally much sharper and to the point where I can actually read it without having to try too hard.

I think Griffin has a winner here. Not only is Clarifi a very decent case the close-up lens significantly improves the iPhone 3G’s capability to take sharp close-up pictures, something the iPhone 3G does very poorly.

When I first wrote about Griffin’s Clarifi, the price on Amazon.com was just $17.64. I don’t know what the difference is now but it seems the lowest price is $23.49 from a retailer. Ah! You can get the Clarifi from SPACE2SHOP for just $17.46 plus $4.99 shipping: just click on “xx used and & new” and when the new page comes up look at the “New” merchants below the “Featured Merchants”. Hopefully you’ll find a price that’s $17.46 or even lower.

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