Review: Griffin Clarifi for iPhone 3G

The Griffin Clarifi Case for iPhone 3G is available from The iPhone Blog Store for $29.95. If you are looking for a case that enhances your close-up iPhone camera photos, is slim and dockable then this case might be for you. Let’s see how it measures up after the break!

Design

Griffin's Clarifi case is very similar in design to my previous case review, the Case-Mate Dockster in the sense that it is a dockable, two-piece case solution. However the Clarifi goes a step further to ensure you take great photos; more on the photo part later. For now, what is the rest of the design like?

The case is plastic with a smooth "middle section" and the top quarter and bottom quarters have some sort of grippy plastic, kind of like grippy paint on the Treo 750, but it is more plastic than paint. Either way, it adds the needed grip when holding your iPhone 3G. You have all of the expected ports open for access; bottom, top and side for all of your buttons. The bottom quarter slides right off exposing the Apple 30-pin connector to place in your cradle if need be. I really like the designs that implement this, it is very handy of you own a cradle.  Of course if you just plug in with a cable, you don't need to remove the bottom. The part that sets this case aside from other cases is the sliding lens that goes over the camera, it allows for crisper images up-close that is really noticeable with text (see screens at the bottom of the page for a couple of examples).

Daily Use

The slim case allows the iPhone 3G to slip right in your pocket and the grippy plastic is not too grippy where you can't pull it back out of your pant pocket. I have used cases like this in the past and it can be very frustrating. I have found all of the ports easily accessible and did not encounter any real issues. Docking is a breeze, you simply pull off the bottom of the case and place in your cradle; done, it is really that easy. So the case sounds great so far, but it has something a little extra for ya...

The lens.

Yes, this case has a tiny lens that slides over the iPhone 3G camera lens. But Chad, why would I need such a thing? Well, have you ever tried to take a picture of something up-close with the iPhone? Perhaps a business card or text in a magazine, newspaper or book you might want to reference later? If you have then you know exactly what I am talking about. The iPhone camera lacks any sort of close-up auto focus functionality. So, when trying to take pictures of objects up-close, they become blurry. What the Clarifi cases does is rectify this issue by simply placing a slide lens over the camera, it works like a pair of glasses. Before the Clarifi lens, up-close pictures were blurry, now they are "clear" or clarified if you will (sorry, I couldn't help myself there).

Conclusion

I think this is one of my favorite cases to date! It is basically the Case-Mate Dockster but no leather, and added clarifying lens! For some people, the lens may not be a big deal, but I use Evernote a lot and this tool is very handy to have when taking pictures on the go to be reviewed later; such as a business card, etc. If you need a slim case that's durable and has the added benefits that I describe here, then the Griffin Clarifi is for you! One of my favorite cases!

Pros:

  • Awesome camera magnifier
  • It is dockable!
  • Grippy plastic on the top and bottom
  • Sturdy plastic supportive frame
  • Thin
  • All ports are very easily accessible

Cons:

  • I really can’t find any pertinent negatives with this case :-)
  • Lacks variety of colors, currently black-only

TiPb’s Rating:

rating

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Chad Garrett

Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

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Reader comments

Review: Griffin Clarifi for iPhone 3G

20 Comments

Seems like a really nice case. I considered this case at one point, but ended up going with the ifrogz luxe.

This is the case I currently use and love it! The truth is that I've stopped using it for macro shots because the outter lense tracks dust very quickly. The iphone lense does fine when covered in dust/lint but the outter one gets cloudy. Every once in a while I get inspired and clean the outter lense with an alcohol pad, and then I can take good macro shots for a while, but it gets covered again quickly. (Even when the lense gets dirty, it's macro shots are still much crisper than the iphones, it's just the pictures are a bit dark.)
Even aside from the macro lense, the case itself is, like you wrote, very atractive and nicely textured. It doesn't get stuck in my pocket at all, yet it does provide a nice grip. Also, it comes with a nice screen protector - if you clean you're screen perfectly and then apply it, you can get no bubbles, and it's still in great shape, even after several months. Considering the price, I am thrilled with the product overall.

Hmmmm.....I just did a search online and it looks like rubbing alcohol can actually cause a plastic lense to cloud up. I bet that's why my lense is all cloudy. So to anyone who reads this, clean your iphone lense with alcohol, and your clarifi lense strictly with water.
Looks like I'll be ordering a replacement clarifi case...

I have been using a Clarifi since December. I absolutely love it. The lens has come in handy many times.
The only issue I have with it is that I don't like to carry my iPhone in my pocket, and it doesn't fit in any good hip cases well. AT&T does sell a leather horizontal clipping case, that the iPhone in a Clarifi shell will eventually fit in once you stretch the leather long enough. I just got a new one and might have to resort so the same chemical women use to stretch their shoes.
That is my only beef with this case. Maybe Griffin will someday produce a belt clip that works with this case. If anyone knows of one, it would be nice to know.

Sorry to clog up the comments here; I hope this stuff is useful. Upon more reading it turns out that pure isopropyl alcohol is safe for lenses, and while I am not what was in the medical wipes I used, I figured I would try cleaning it off with water now. What a difference it made! The cloudiness is gone! It could be the cloudiness last time was just from not drying the lense off. Either way, now, when I slide the clarifi lense over the iphone lense, it doesn't get ANY darker, just really clear.

I have an Clarifi myself, and there is one major problem with it. The case fits the phone so tightly that if you have had your phone shielded with a Zagg cover or similar product, it will not fit into the Clarifi case. There is a substantial difference in size when your iphone is inside the Clarifi, so my plan was to use it at trade shows where I would take photos of business cards with the macro lense. After realizing it destroyed the clear coating on my phone, I haven't used it since. I prefer the smaller size of my phone without the Clarifi case than I do having the macro lense functionality.

i have this case too. you will have the following problems in time:
1] the lens WILL get dirty or linty, and at some point you'll have to pull the case off and clean all around behind the lens and in front. i recommend blowing air or using a lens/glasses cleaning cloth.
2] the case WILL leave marks on the iPhone itself. you'll see these when you pull the case off after using it awhile. don't freak out, these marks can be wiped away but it will take a bit of elbow grease.
3] the lens WILL get in the way of taking a normal photo. eventually you'll get into the habit of pulling bad the lens as a reflex action, so this shouldn't happen too often.
4] the case WILL collect scratches. the shiny surface is a scratch magnet.
with all that said.. this is an AMAZING case. it really does extend the photographic capabilities of the phone, it's lightweight and slim, looks nice and will protect the phone [barring the marks it leaves that you can wipe off]. it looks very nice, and after you've collected a certain number of scratches it just looks "weathered".
on the one hand, you WILL have problems with this case. on the other hand, these problems are totally worth it.

AndyNJ,
I have dropped my iPhone a few times with this case (once on pavement) and it has prevented the iPhone from receiving any damage.

Great review. My Clarifi has been my full-time case for a few months now. It's great with expense apps that do photo receipts as well.

I've been using the case since it came out. Everything about it is great.
Only con for myself: the sliding lens put a scratch on my iPhone. It occurred to the right of the camera, where the macro lens slides to when you don't want to use it.

"What’s the effective range of the macro lens?"
optimum distance to subject is 4 inches. the normal minimum distance is 18 inches.
one problem with the clarifi is that under 4 inches, things start getting blurry, and over 4 inches, things start getting blurry. generally speaking when you have the lens on, you want to stay within 3 to 8 inches of the subject or else the image becomes noticeably blurry.
this leaves a gap between ~8 and 18 inches that the clarifi doesn't address.
in practice, you just end up moving the camera a little closer, or pulling back to 18 inches and sliding off the lens. despite the gap, the case is still worth it.

unless you carry around a tape measure, you're going to end up sort of moving the camera toward what you're shooting, then pulling back, moving toward and pulling back until you find the sweet spot for focus.
this is slightly frustrating, but far less frustrating that not having the case, moving in toward something you want to shoot and finding that it is absolutely impossible to get it into focus unless you back way out, until the subject is minuscule in the frame.

Bought mine after seeing my husband's experiments with his own Clarifi case. I just started using Evernote, and the difference it makes in text recognition of photos is DRAMATIC. The only thing I would like is a belt clip on the back, but otherwise, only $22 (on Amazon) to make such a huge difference in photo quality? You can't beat it with a stick!

this is slightly frustrating, but far less frustrating that not having the case, moving in toward something you want to shoot and finding that it is absolutely impossible to get it into focus unless you back way out, until the subject is minuscule in the frame.

The sliding lens will scratch your iPhone. The solution is to place a piece of clear tape to the right of the lens the length (maybe a little more) of the slider. This will prevent scratching of the iphone itself.
I have had this case for a long while, and love it. I upgrade from 8gb to 16gb, and moved the case over. The lens comes in handy more often then you'd expect.