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Jun 29, 2009

Beware of Magnetic Cases with the iPhone 3GS

Yep, I've succumbed. After waiting since 2007 for the iPhone to come to T-Mobile or Verizon, I've pulled the trigger and ordered a shiny new iPhone 3GS during the first wave last week. Never mind that it took until Wednesday of this week to get to me, but that's another story.

I acquired a few holster-style cases from various sources, and I can tell you this: the Compass/Magnetometer in the iPhone 3GS does not like magnetic closures on the cases. I first used Speck's odd but very protective SwitchWay case, and after using it, I found that I had to recalibrate the compass every time I took the iPhone out of the case. I also used a no-name holster that I'd used with an iPod Touch, and that also garnered the same results.

The no-name case uses two magnets to keep itself shut, and the SwitchWay uses four magnets (it can be worn vertically or horizontally). Apple's support docs have warned against using magnetic cases since the iPhone 3G last year, but I'd used the no-name case with the first generation iPhone while I tried it out back in 2007 with no ill effects.

According to a review on iLounge.com, the SwitchWay was redesigned with a Velcro closure, and I'd certainly recommend one if you like a holster for convenience. In any case, I'm off to the Apple Cube to get a DLO HipCase, which I know has Velcro.

I should point out that calls, emails, and text messages came through fine in any of the cases, magnetic or not, so that's not an issue, but it is exceedingly annoying to have to re-calibrate the Compass everytime I needed to use it (including in maps). It also took progressively more time to reclaibrate the Compass the longer I kept the iPhone in the magnetic cases. Buyer Beware!

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