Lander is a new name in the smartphone accessory world, but if the first products out of this Utah-based company are any indication, they'll soon be familiar to a larger audience of iPhone owners. The company's new Powell Travel Case (US$39.95) and Neve Lightning to USB Cable ($29.99) are both stylish and well-designed accessories that wouldn't be out of place in a campsite in the Rockies or in a corporate boardroom.
Powell Travel Case
Available in four color schemes (black, white, blue and red), the Powell Travel Case packs MIL-STD-810 drop protection into an extremely slim profile. One of my pet peeves was addressed with the Powell -- it never ceases to amaze me how many rugged cases are don't have a way to keep them from slipping out of your hands in the first place. The Powell case has ridges spaced all around the top and sides that make it easy to grip, even with gloves on.
To give the Powell extra strength and a bit more grip-ability, the back of the case was inspired by a steel-strengthening process called coining in which lengthwise ridges are stamped into a surface to stiffen it. This design feature appears to work quite well; squeezing the case from the sides proved it to be difficult to flex. It also happens to look strong as well, kind of like one of those rugged bed liners you find in the back of a pickup truck.
While the Powell is thinner than most iPhone 6s/6s Plus cases, it still provides some screen protection as the case sides are slightly higher than the iPhone display. There are pass-through buttons for the sleep/wake switch and volume rocker, and ample cut-outs for the headphone port, Lightning port, and bottom speaker. Of course, there's also a good-sized cutout for the camera and flash on the back of the Powell.
Altogether, I am very impressed with the Powell's design, construction, and pricing. For a premiere product from a new company, the Powell shows a great deal of design savvy and I look forward to seeing new products from Lander.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★
Neve Lightning to USB Cable
When I was first contacted about reviewing the new products from Lander, my first thought about the Neve Lightning to USB cable was "Oh, great... another boring charging cable". Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. Lander managed to make a charge/sync cable exciting.
At first glance, the Neve looks like one of the tangle-free flat cables we've been seeing a lot of this year. But upon closer examination, there are a lot of features to like about the design. First, the entire cable is covered in what Lander calls "Illumaweave", a woven material that has reflective fabric in it. I thought this was a gimmick until I turned on the iPhone 6s Plus flashlight and aimed it at the cable, and it glowed (see photo below)! This would be really useful in trying to find the cable in the dark or under the seat of a car.
On both ends of the 3 foot long (1m) Neve are what Lander calls "Everpull" connectors. These are long, flat plastic connectors that both protect the area on the cable ends that normally get a lot of wear and tend to break, and they're once again ridged to make them easy to grip and pull out. The cable has Apple's MFi (Made For iPhone) certification. There's also a plastic grip in the center of the cable, making it easy to wrap up.
Like I mentioned, it's really hard to get excited about a charging cable. Lander managed to take a rather common item and really put some design thought into it. Normally I would think that anyone who would spend $30 on a charging cable is out of their mind, but I wholeheartedly recommend the Neve. It will probably outlast every Lightning-equipped device you own.