Apple iPhone 4 Case Program - Here Are The Best + Worst Picks (Updated!) | iLounge Backstage


Apple iPhone 4 Case Program - Here Are The Best + Worst Picks (Updated!)

Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 4 Case Program this morning, along with a free downloadable iPhone 4 Case Program App that automatically checks your iPhone 4 against Apple’s serial number database and enables you to choose from eight cases—actually, seven if you count the two colors available for one of the cases. We’ve seen a bunch of the cases already, as well as predecessor versions of others for past iPhones, so here are the ones we’d recommend, plus comments on the others. Updated July 29, 2010 with additional photos and details.

Speck’s PixelSkin HD. This just-released case combines twin textures—glossy and matte black plastics—to create a grid on the back of the shell. Easy to put on and take off if necessary, PixelSkin HD has fairly accessory compatible holes and lacks only for screen protection. We’d definitely lean towards this one, which otherwise sells for $30.


PixelSkin HD

Griffin’s Reveal Etch. Based on the company’s earlier Reveal for iPhone 4, Reveal Etch pairs soft rubber sides with a hard plastic back that has a faux carbon fiber texture—the standard Reveal has a clear plastic back. Reveal Etch appears to work properly with the iPhone 4’s camera and flash system, has reasonably sized accessory holes, and the same integrated button protection as PixelSkin HD. Choosing between them is mostly a question of the type of rear texture you like, but PixelSkin HD’s sides are a little firmer, which we like, while Reveal Etch’s back is stiffer. It’s normally $30.


Reveal Etch Graphite

Griffin’s Motif. Normally $20, this semi-soft TPU case is translucent gray—“smoke”—and has a diamond pattern on its back. Though the atypically low price might lead you to write this one off, the strength of Motif and earlier predecessors from competitors is that the manufacturing process yields very affordable, durable, and sharp-looking designs. Motif feels glossy on all of its sides, which might be an issue for users who need more tack, but the diamond rear pattern looks very cool in an understated way on the iPhone 4. This case is also noteworthy because its bottom and camera holes are tailored nicely for proper accessory, speakerphone, and photo performance, though its headphone port hole is on the small side.



Speck’s Fitted Case. We generally really like the style and fit of Speck’s Fitted series, which pairs a fabric rear surface with a hard plastic two-piece shell. The one Speck’s offering in the case program has a gray and black Tartan Plaid pattern and normally goes for $30; the only reason we’d lean away from it is that the button coverage is really weak by comparison with the cases listed above—they’re basically all exposed—and the accessory holes don’t have any ability to expand due to the hard plastic. But the fabrics Speck chooses are always really nice, as shown on the version we’ve covered already, and have a matte finish.


Fitted for iPhone 4, with a different fabric pattern

Incase’s Snap Case for iPhone 4. Now sold for $35, this is Incase’s take on the seriously overpopulated “simple thin shell” genre, which is only appealing due to the simple, clean design. The iPhone 4 version is shown below in clear, and comes packaged with a plastic separate video stand; it offers very limited top and bottom protection, with no front protection and open side buttons. Apple’s offering this one in smoke or clear colors, the only case with two versions—neither is the more deluxe Perforated design we liked and featured in our iPod/iPhone Book 5 earlier this year.


Snap Case for iPhone 4 in Smoke

Belkin Shield Micra for iPhone 4. With a $25 asking price, Shield Micra is the only case in the bunch that we don’t know much about, besides the pictures on Belkin’s site—the company has had some rough patches with cases we’ve seen in recent years. This one appears to have open buttons, but whether it’s made from semi-soft TPU plastic or a harder material is unclear; there would likely be button covers if it was made from TPU.


Apple Bumper Case for iPhone 4. Sold for $29, this “case” is really just two types of plastic—one matte rubber, one glossy hard plastic—wrapped around the metal edge of the iPhone 4. It creates major accessory incompatibilities and offers no protection for the iPhone 4’s back, unlike all of the other cases above. Though we like its looks, we wouldn’t recommend this one.


Notably, none of these cases includes screen protection, making some form of film an advisable additional purchase if you’re worried about glare, smudges or potential scratches. A wide collection of other iPhone 4 case options is available in our iPhone 4 Case Gallery, as well.

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I got the bumper as part of the free case program. It fits great, and has the advantages mentioned in other posts. But now I’ll be getting (at my expense) another one. That’s because the bumper interferes with the headset jack in the sense with certain headphones, I cannot even connect to my iphone 4 and listen to my music. So it’s either by new headphones, AND a new tape player connector to my car stereo, or a new case. The latter is cheaper at $30-35.

Posted by Shak on September 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM (CDT)


I just got the Apple bumper for my Iphone 4. I keep it in the front pocket of my slacks or shorts with credit cards and cash but no money clip. While sitting at a restaurant I got a call and pulled out the Iphone. I was lucky to notice a credit card that had fallen out of my pocket…..

It’s got a good feel to it but the rubber makes it not so easy to slide out of pockets and the design of the bumper makes it easy snag credit cards or cash…. It is not the case for me.

Posted by Duane Thompson on September 7, 2010 at 10:00 PM (CDT)


Can’t figure out what #92 above is talking about. Just received my Speck PixelSkin HD today. I love it.

Goes on easy. Haven’t tried to take it off. Great rubber/plastic feel. It is much smoother than the typical rubber cases and goes easily in and out of my pocket. Fantastic.

The buttons are a little harder to push but not much. Cut outs line up perfectly. I got the black one. Will it get dirty? Don’t know yet.

Highly recommended. Now I can toss my SwitchEasy clear plastic case that scratched up quickly, sharp edges, misaligned and looks like %4&#.

Posted by brock on September 8, 2010 at 3:47 PM (CDT)


I ended getting free iPhone 4 Bumper but then bought a new case because I like setting my phone down and didn’t want something to scratch the back.
See full review here:

Posted by Cesar on September 9, 2010 at 1:17 AM (CDT)


May seem a silly question, but is the bumper the only case that intensifies signal?

Posted by Chris on September 9, 2010 at 9:54 AM (CDT)


Do not get the incase! It is junk flimsy plastic the bumper is 100 times better

Posted by Joey on September 13, 2010 at 10:42 AM (CDT)


#106. You don’t know what you’re talking about. It is very durable, the bumper is horrible. It just protects the sides and makes the phone bulkier (also awkward to hold).

I love the incase, it covers the back and sides, and provides grip without adding bulk. The stand is a bonus.

Posted by Andrew on September 13, 2010 at 3:51 PM (CDT)


I just received the Incase iphone clear snap case, its an awesome case. Its a minimalis design, 1 mm thich, just protests my phone from scratches and still shows the beautiful look of the iphone 4.
This case is also scratch resistant.
I would recommend this case for anyone wanting a simple design that fits perfect!

Posted by CANUCK901 on September 15, 2010 at 9:28 AM (CDT)


Apple bumper is nice and good quality.

Posted by Stefan on September 17, 2010 at 2:49 AM (CDT)


I regret selecting the black bumpers.  I had to dremel the bottom of the case and the charge cord to recharge without removing the case.  It wonn’t play in any of the 3 players I use with the case on.

Posted by valz on September 18, 2010 at 7:24 AM (CDT)


Everyone is chatting about the Speck HD being the best option. I had a very similar case for the 3G and it was very bulky looking and kind of feminine (it was white). This one looks sleek, but I felt drawn to the belkin clear hard-case. There is not much said about the case and so far is I can tell, not much known either. I am assuming that is the only reason why it is low on the list. Also, once an order is placed, if you want to switch the product is there a way that it can be done? I just came across this post after the fact.

Posted by Sam on September 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM (CDT)


I’ve gone thru 3 cases now.

1) Incase Slider- I agree 106. It sucks for $35.  Not strong, nor that slim.  The back is plain and ugly.  The even did away with the 2 rubber rows and went to 1.  Not worth the money.

2) Otterbox Defender- This thing is a BEAST, but just way to big for me.  Collects lint and is bulky in my pocket.  My wife loves hers though.  Great case if protection is what you want.

3) Bumper- Here’s where I landed. I really love the i4 design and this case shows it best.  Simple, clean, cool design.  Like many of you I was concerned about the back.  Answer: Power Support Crystal film.  Its awesome, you can’t hardly tell its there. 

Thats my 2c.

Posted by Michael on September 20, 2010 at 11:15 PM (CDT)


Do not get the Belkin shield mirca (aka the clear one). It is horrible. The back scratches like crazy. It feels like im gonna break my phone if I attempt to take it off. And lastly, it has a whole bunch of rainbow effects that show up on the back when you expose it to light. Luckily, I borrowed this from a friend while waiting for my pixelskin to come.

Posted by joe on September 21, 2010 at 2:59 AM (CDT)


I’m really glad I came across this information. I’m about to order my free case from Apple. My priority is to get the one that is the least slippery, particularly the back side. can anyone tell me which case is least likely to slide off my lap? I appreciate any input you could give me.

Posted by Daniela on September 21, 2010 at 4:08 PM (CDT)


I just bought my second iPhone 4.  I went with the Griffin Reveal Etch the first time around.  It worked well but the piece of rubber right below the home button is just too thin.  It eventually stretches out and compromises the integrity of the case.

This is my 5th iPhone overall and in the past I’ve never kept a case for long.  They’re just too damn bulky and rubber makes them hard to get in and out of your pocket.  I’m going with the most minimal option here, the Apple bumper, because I don’t use a dock or non-Apple headphones.

Regarding screen protectors: What’s the point?  If something is going to scratch tempered glass a thin sheet of plastic isn’t going to offer any protection.  I’ve had iPhones since the first day the first one was launched and I have yet to scratch or chip any glass.

Posted by repete66211 on September 22, 2010 at 5:00 PM (CDT)


Bought Griffin Motif based on this review - BIG MISTAKE!!! It does not fit right in general. But the main problem is that recess for the main power switch is not deep enough, so just touching the phone activates it. I had to actually cut out the window for the power switch to stop it from doing so. So I wasted my free opportunity on this piece of crap…

Posted by Mark Noir on September 22, 2010 at 9:17 PM (CDT)



I just wanted to know that i’ve ordered my iphone 4 on 12 sept and it ships by 6th october ....
So , am i eligible to get a free case from apple coz i buyed it before sept 30 ??

Do they count order date or delivery date ??

Kindly clarify…....

Posted by Shashank on September 23, 2010 at 3:01 PM (CDT)


#117 - I just got mine on Tuesday (in Canada you still have to fight to get one/line up for hours in the early morning)and you’re ok as long as you order the case before the 30th.

I think I’m going to go with the fabric-backed one, second choice being the bumper. This review was a great help (I also asked at the Apple Store…not so helpful) and the comments here gave me things to think about in terms of scratches, etc and which case would be best for me.

Thanks! This article was so helpful.

Posted by Sabrina on September 24, 2010 at 12:10 AM (CDT)



I just wanted to know that i’ve ordered my iphone 4 on 12 sept and it ships by 6th october ....
So , am i eligible to get a free case from apple coz i buyed it before sept 30 ??

Do they count order date or delivery date ??

Kindly clarify…....

Posted by Shashank on September 24, 2010 at 3:39 PM (CDT)


I got the speck. It was my first choice in the pictures. It may nor be all cutesy but it is handsome and solid. I
got mine in about 3-4 weeks. It said 4-6 at the time if I remember right.

It a solid fit and all thought I haven’t had one with metal buttons I am impressed with the control accuracy and easy of the buttons. I have no complaints about the case or it’s function. It feel very solid on the phone and I’n your hand and it laps the edges on the front just a bit. But enough to really make a screen protector extra secure. You never have to think about it.
It doesn’t cause on things and is not hard to remove from a pocket like my old phone silicone case did. I love it. Will still get a the beefist case as soon as I find one because I’m to drop prone but for now and free, Thumbs up, fourstars etc. 

I’m impressed with it. Way more than I expected to be.  I did not want a bumper with such little protection. I the wait is longer now I say it’s worth a week or two longer.

Posted by Anna on September 25, 2010 at 1:29 AM (CDT)


Nice review and comments added nicely. I started getting an IFrogz Luxe Case as the ATT guy said I would be reimbursed up to $30 for whatever case I bought. Not true.
I went to the apple site to find my real limits. Ordered the Speck Pixel Skin based on this site. Thanks. Better than ATT salesperson.

Posted by William McNerney on September 26, 2010 at 7:43 PM (CDT)


Have had the Speck case for a while now and I’m more convinced than ever that its the best choice.  This is my third case for the iPhone 4.

First was the Apple Bumper.  Well made.  Hand feel is weird since the back isn’t covered so it only connects with your hand on the edges.  Weird.  Also not compatible with most docks or headphones.  Had to file the headphone jack and dock connector areas by hand to resolve this.  The metal buttons are nice.  Easy to take off.  If you don’t mind the weird hand feel and don’t use any docks or non-Apple headphones, feel free.

Next was the iFrogz.  Nice enough looking.  But bulky.  Mine was blue and caused a blue tint on all the pictures I took with flash.  Black permanent marker fixed that.  Also too tight for almost any films, especially iFrogz own (I like the Power Support the best).  Again had to file the headphone jack and dock connector.

Finally I got the Speck.  Has by FAR the best feel in the hand because of the rounded corners and sides.  Very very nice.  Extremely well designed—no issues with films or headphone jack or dock connector unlike the others.  Only complaint is the lack of colors from the front.  All of the cases are flat black when viewed from the front, wish they did something else (blue? red?) so that my two iPhone family had something to key off when we’re trying to figure out which phone is which.

Posted by Fanfoot on September 28, 2010 at 12:30 AM (CDT)


I just placed order on the Griffin Perforated silicon case… but I think Speck pixelskin HD is better… can I delete the order and place another order again?

Posted by Serene on October 6, 2010 at 10:09 AM (CDT)


i thought all orders are stopped after end of september?
How come i can still apply for the case?
is the comfirmation i am getting for real?
I am so excited about the free case !!
someone who has received their case after apply after end of septemper please share! thks!

Posted by vance kang on October 20, 2010 at 6:28 AM (CDT)


Be aware that the Speck Fitted case for the Iphone 4 will lifts the edges off of protective film you apply on the phone.

Posted by Mypost on October 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM (CDT)


Darn.. If only i had bought an iphone 4 sooner! oh well i guess i’ll just have to use my amazon credit to purchase one of these :D

Posted by Dan on October 31, 2010 at 11:54 AM (CDT)


The Apple iPhone 4 Bumper does protect the back and the font of the phone becasue the edges overlap, duh!!!

Posted by Emerson on March 7, 2011 at 6:42 PM (CST)


I have a Sena leather case and it’s great.

Posted by Ak on March 17, 2011 at 11:00 PM (CDT)


Great review. Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Adam Wills on April 6, 2011 at 5:02 AM (CDT)


I bought a case with a clip from boxwave since I had one before with a Dare. The clip helped with drops and keeping it handy, but this clip has a u-shape and it hangs up when I unclip it. It does make a nice stand for the phone and the clip is not extrusive. Also, there is no hole for the camera lens, to make up for this there is a quick release snap on the top so the case comes off easy. Takes a while to get used to.

Posted by Sabra on May 1, 2011 at 2:41 PM (CDT)

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