Last year at Mobile World Congress, NFC was rolled out in all kinds of ways – such as being used as a badge for entry into the show. But only supported phones with NFC technology could partake in the NFC goodness. A year later, most new smartphones come with NFC built-in – except for the iPhone. And that is where Incipio’s new Cashwrap case comes in. This case adds NFC support to the iPhone 5 and 5s.
The actual case design for the Cashwrap is pretty minimalist and it resembles most battery pack cases for the iPhone. The case is available in a selection of 3 colors – black, gray and pink, and it’s made out of a pretty sleek, co-molded Plextonium frame.
Once you have popped the iPhone into the case, you’ll have to download the Isis app. The app lets you add credit cards and loyalty cards. Loyalty cards are automatically sent with payments. Unfortunately not all credit cards and loyalty cards are supported yet. For example, there is support for Walgreens and Duane Reade’s loyalty programs – but no support yet for the CVS loyalty program, while only AMEX, AMEX Serve, Chase and Wells Fargo cards are supported as credit cards.
Assigning my AMEX card to the Isis app was easy – all I had to do was log in to my Amex account online and give Isis permission to use the card. Armed with my Cashwrap case in Manhattan, over the past week, I have observed that indeed many stores do offer support for Isis and contact-less payments. In particular, bigger chains such as Duane Reade, McDonald’s CVS, AT&T, Petco, Radio Shack, etc, offer payment terminals with NFC support. Some smaller stores do as well, but the variety of smaller retailers and most of the restaurants that I went into, did not have support for Isis. On the other hand, many New York City cabs do now support NFC. In any case, you can check out what businesses near you support NFC payments on Isis’s website. This will give you a good idea of what kind of value you can get out of the Cashwrap case according to where you live. That said, we imagine that more and more retailers will gain support for contact-less payments as time goes on.
The Isis app works, and the Cashwrap case is as good as it gets when it comes to adding NFC to your iPhone – at least for the moment. But between limited credit card and loyalty card support, we’re not sure if the extra added heft to your phone is justified. We also have some privacy concerns about where all of our buying data with the Cashwrap case is going… when we signed up with Isis and added our AMEX card we were greeted with lots and lots of legal jargon, and although we’re hardly legal experts – we’re concerned about where our data is going and how it is being used.
Incipio’s CASHWRAP Mobile Wallet Case retails for $69.99 and is available for AT&T and Verizon’s iPhone models. It’s important to note that the Cashwrap cases are carrier specific, so you can’t use a T-Mobile iPhone with an AT&T Cashwrap case, and vice versa.
The Good: Easy to set up, device works as a case with good protection for your iPhone, comes in 3 colors, Isis app is intuitive and easy to use, this is currently the best solution for adding NFC to the iPhone.
The Bad: Case design blocks lightning dock – so that you have to use a micro USB cable to charge your phone, no built-in battery pack, you need to use the included 3.5mm extension cable when you’re using headphones, would like the design to be even slimmer and lighter, limited use for NFC since not all retailers support contact-less payments yet, there are only 3 supported apps in the iTunes store that can take advantage of the case, and not all credit cards and loyalty programs are supported.