Case-Mate is one of the most well-known and established Apple case makers in the business. Surprisingly they haven't been in business all that long taking orders on their first iPod case in December 2005. Since then they have grown by leaps and bounds constantly coming out with new unique designs and expanding their product line to cover more devices. With the reputation Case-Mate has built one expects everything they make to be at the top of the class. Let's see how one of their current offerings stacks up.

We received various Case-Mate cases for the iPhone 3G/3GS recently and are going to take a look at the Case-Mate Barely There With Chrome Screen Protector for the iPhone 3G/3GS first! In essence this case is just a Case-Mate Barely There shell with a fancy finish and screen protector thrown in. The Barely There series of cases are designed to protect your iPhone 3G/3GS from basic scratches and damage while being as light and as thin as possible. Made out of impact resistant plastic they are flexible yet strong. The normal line of Barely There cases come in a variety of colors but Case-Mate has bumped things up with this design which only comes in Chrome. Also included is a matching mirrored screen protector.

Don't miss-understand, in essence this is the typical iPhone shell with all the advantages and disadvantages you'd expect. It is very thin, lightweight, and form-fitting so once it's installed on the iPhone you hardly notice it it's "barely there." Installation is a breeze. Simply put the iPhone in the shell volume button side first and then snap the other side on. Once on the shell is nice and secure so it isn't going to fall off on minor drops. The case doesn't interfere with operating the iPhone. Everything is accessible including the volume buttons, lock button, audio port, silent switch, speaker, microphone, sim card slot, camera, and data port. The back of the case has a round cutout to show off the Apple Logo; centering it perfectly.

Disadvantages. First of all shells by design are very thin and lightweight. While this is great for not destroying the iPhone’s form-factor and feel it isn’t great for big drops and large shocks. The Case-Mate Barely There Chrome is no different and while it will protect against scratches it will not do well vs. severe impact. Another issue with shells like this one is the top and bottom of the iPhone is left fairly open and unprotected from scratches and damage. Something that Case-Mate should consider to improve upon the basic shell design is a soft but thin and lightweight inner liner so the plastic wont wear on your iPhone. Until they do this is about as good a basic shell can get.

As far as looks go the Case-Mate Barely There Chrome With Mirror Screen Protector looks absolutely fabulous. The finish on the shell portion is excellent with zero signs of manufacturing error or impurities. The chrome is flashy but not blinding. It's a great look on the iPhone and our pictures don't do it justice. You would think that the glossy chrome finish would be a fingerprint magnet and it is, except they don't show badly and are almost unnoticeable (expect while taking pictures with the flash on ).

What brings this case's whole look together is the mirror screen protector. This is a simple adhesive screen protector that is installed easily with no special fluids or water. Simply make sure your iPhone's screen is clean and free from dust, peel off the adhesive side's protective cover, align and stick on. If you need to remove it later it doesn't leave a nasty residue. I can't think of a reason you would want to remove the screen protector though. Once applied to the iPhone the screen protector brings the whole chrome theme together. It matches perfectly with the chrome shell making the iPhone look futuristic and exciting. The mirrored finish on the screen protector seems to magically go away when you use the phone allowing you to see the screen clearly. It isn't 100% perfectly clear but it's very good (I'd say 95%) so unless you're an extreme clarity snob it's a welcome sacrifice for the overall clean and fluid chrome look.

The Case-Mate Barely There Chrome with Mirror Screen Protector for iPhone 3G/3GS is one of the top shell designs out there. Fit and finish is perfect, it doesn't interfere with the use or feel of the iPhone and has the side benefit of looking extraordinary. The shell is what we would expect from any shell on the market but attention to style puts the Case-Mate Barely There Chrome a step above the competition. Everyone and their dog has an iPhone these days but with this case yours will be unique!

Don't trust us? You can find out for yourself. We're giving away one of these cases to a lucky winner. To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment starting with "BARELY THERE -"


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