clarifi2 I previously have professed my love for Evernote as a way to unclutter my life.  One of the nice features of Evernote is its cross-platform support.  I use Evernote on my iPhone to take photographs of notes, business cards, and even wine labels.  The iPhone isn’t ideal for this, as its camera doesn’t have autofocus, and is not designed to take clear photographs of text at close range.  To address this, I purchased the Griffin Clarifi iPhone case.  Read on for my take on the Clarifi, using the Griffin Elan iPhone case as a point of reference.

What makes the Clarifi different from other cases is the lens on the rear, that slides over the iPhone camera lens.  The Clarifi lens acts as a magnifying lens of sorts, making most text much more legible.  The lens slides with the touch of a finger to cover or uncover the iPhone lens.  I had read other reviews that complained that the lens would slide on its own, but I haven’t experienced that problem.  There is plenty of friction, at least on mine, that prevents the lens from sliding until I want to slide it.  Here is an example of the same text taken first with the Clarifi lens in place (top), and then without it (bottom):

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You can see that the results vary.  The factors that affected the clarity of the photos the most were text size and lighting.  The more light present when a photograph was taken, the less the difference that the Clarifi made.  Likewise, the Clarifi was less of a factor as the text got larger.  Still, you can see that in virtually every photograph, the Clarifi did make a difference when capturing images of text.

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While I love the Clarifi’s lens, I can’t say the same about the feel of the case.  Prior to purchasing the Clarifi, I had been using the Griffin Elan case.  Compared to the Elan, the Clarifi feels slippery.  The Elan had a leather exterior, and was very easy to grip.  The Clarifi has hard shell, but the middle of the shell feels like plastic, and is much more smooth and slick than the Elan case.  Don’t get me wrong – the case of the Clarif isn’t bad.  It just isn’t as nice as the case of the Elan.

When deciding whether to purchase the Clarifi, I had a difficult time ascertaining the size of the case from the various reviews I was able to locate.  After it arrived, I was pleased to discover that it is the exact same size as the Elan case (or, if it differs, I wasn’t able to tell).  They feel identical in my pocket.  Here they are, side by side (Elan on the left, Clarifi on the right):

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One comparison I wasn’t able to make was between the durability of the two cases.  If anyone wants to send me some test iPhones that I can drop from a few feet off the ground, I’d be happy to report back my results.

In sum, the perfect product would have been a case made out of the same material as the Elan, with the camera of the Clarifi.  If you’re deciding between these two cases, your decision could come down to how important the camera lens is to you.  If you use Evernote, or otherwise need to take photographs of text, than the Clarifi’s camera lens trumps the Elan’s superior case.