[Note, this review is slightly off topic from my standard posts, if you want to learn more about SharePoint branding, scroll down to my previous posts. Thanks!]
From the second I ordered my iPhone 4, I knew I was probably going to use a case to carry it around most of the time. This was even before “antenna-gate” proved to be an issue and everyone was told they were going to get a free case. Since I ordered online, my iPhone arrived before the stores had them, and by the time I decided to brave the crowds the Apple store was all out of cases (note: as of 7/21/2010 they still are out of all iPhone 4 cases in my area). So I went over to Best Buy and bought two temporary cases to try out and wasn’t super thrilled with them so I also ordered two online (with the plan to return whichever ones I didn’t like). So for all of you that want to get a case for your iPhone 4 but are unsure which is right for you, I provide my quick review of four commonly available options. I really wanted to review the new Speck CandyShell but I haven’t seen any available anywhere that weren’t crazy colored (take note AT&T stores, the black one looks much nicer than the purple one). Oh, and if any other case companies want to send me cases for review I’d be happy to add photos and reviews for them, just use my contact form in the top navigation 🙂
For me, the most important aspects of a case are A. that it protects the phone from drops and basic scratches and B. that it doesn’t weigh very much or make the phone look terrible. All weights listed are my own measurements based on just the case (no packaging) on a food scale and all photos were taken by me (the flash on my camera really brought out some of the dust and made some of the grays a little lighter than they actually are, in most cases all of these cases were clear or black/dark gray.
Griffin Reveal – $24.99
(Case Weight: .65 Ounces)
This was one of the cases I ordered online because it looked interesting to me. I liked the idea that it protected the back of the phone but still showed off the phone. The back looks good, pretty much like a naked iPhone 4 with the only noticeable difference being the camera cutout. The side rubber is snug but does lift up a bit when you apply pressure, I’d prefer this rubber to be more rigid but I suppose it would be difficult to remove if it was. The buttons feel good and even my cheap Monoprice power adapters fit fine with the case on (none of these cases work with my old 3Gs dock… I would suspect none work the the iPhone 4 dock either). Out of these four cases, this is one of my favorite, and probably the best choice for overall protection. Note, that I did leave something rigid in my iPhone pocket the other day and was able to scratch the bejeezus out of the clear backing, but the phone was unharmed so I guess it served its purpose by protecting the phone).
Apple Bumper –
$29.00 Free for the early adopters
(Case Weight: .30 Ounces)
I really like this case, its very light (the lightest of these four by far) and it has a nice professional look. Yes… it is expensive for a piece of plastic that probably costs Apple twenty cents to make, but it is well made. I had to order it on the website and wait a few weeks for it to come in; I guess I’m going to get a refund for this one now… thanks Steve! I like the combination of the softer rubber and the harder plastic to make the case rigid but flexible (in the photos the soft rubber appears much grayer than it should, the case is basically very dark all around). I also like the way the buttons are separate from the case itself, they are very easy to press and feel like real metal buttons. I do still feel like I need some protection on the back of the phone though, perhaps a “screen” protector might help with that. I still use the Griffin Reveal when I’m going anywhere where I might accidently drop the phone or there is a lot of dirt… but when I get a back protector sticker I may switch to the bumper fulltime. I think if anyone makes a case that is a lot like the bumper only with the addition of a very thin back on it, that might be the perfect case. One other downside is that my cheap Monoprice charging cable doesn’t fit well with this case on, and I suspect that some smaller headphone jacks may have problems.
Belkin Grip Vue – $24.99
(Case Weight: .75 Ounces)
I wanted to like this case, it was the second that I was able to find in store at Best Buy and is now available at Amazon as well. I could only find it in clear, but I think I would have preferred the darker model since the clear made the sides look a bit too cheap. The plastic that is used is fairly rigid, which I liked and the buttons were a little stiff but worked ok. I did notice that the front lip of the case did seem to be a “micron” smaller than it should be because I could frequently feel the case click forward into the proper position and then slide back ever so slightly. Also, note that this case didn’t want to stand up on its own for the photos (not a problem in the real world) so I propped it up with my old iPhone dock.
Rocketfish Silicone Fitted Case – $15.99
(Case Weight: 1 Ounce)
Not my favorite case by a long shot. It was available day one from Best Buy so it was my first and only option for a bit. I believe it is a Best Buy exclusive case. It is large, heavy (1 full ounce, the heaviest from this group!), and generally not very attractive. It seems to pick up every piece of dust that touches it. Also it doesn’t fit overly snug, which is concerning to me because it could allow dirt to get inside the case and potentially cause problems. The buttons work well but they are thick and molded into the same plastic so they aren’t the easiest to press down. I will say though that it would probably protect the phone nicely from falls, I’m thinking it would just bounce gently because of the type of rubber used.
That’s about it, so far my favorite are the Apple Bumper and the Griffin Reveal. If I get a chance to review any others, I will add them directly here or perhaps add a link to the new review. Let me know if you like any other specific cases and why.