Review: Incipio Hive Response for iPhone 4/4S
Following its debut at CES this year, Incipio has officially released Hive Response ($30) for iPhone 4/4S, a case clearly inspired by the earlier Hive Gaming Case. Although the line had previously only been available for the fourth-generation iPod touch, this model is exclusive to Apple's phone. While Hive Response has a similar wraparound silicone case as its base, the big difference is the addition of a well integrated plastic shield. Marketed towards gamers, the features and overall design of this case won't appeal to everyone, although it's well executed for what it is. As we've come to expect from Incipio, Hive Response ships along with a screen protector film, an applicator card, and a cleaning cloth.
The rubber case is purposefully thick and provides rather significant coverage of the iPhone’s body; it’s easy to feel the quality of the substantial material. The back and edges are completely covered save for the necessary openings for ports and inputs, and the case comes around to the front, forming a lip to protect some of the bezel and ensure that the screen is setback for safety in the event of a drop. Accessory compatibility is limited though. The Dock Connector port hole is the same size as Apple’s plug, so only those cables or other equally small ones will fit; the headphone opening is a bit more forgiving but still somewhat tight. Due to the thickness of the case, it definitely doesn’t make an electronic connection in any standard docks. We like that the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons still feel very clicky, yet are covered.
It’s clear that drop protection and gaming comfort were key factors that went hand in hand in the development of Hive Response. Not only is the rubber thick, it’s also lined inside and out with a honeycomb pattern that adds some shock protection and improves grip. The corners protrude, which keeps them safer in falls and is quite comfortable for landscape orientation gaming. To top it off, Incipio also includes an interlocking plastic frame that fits precisely into the back of the case. It sits flush against the silicone and is held in place by matching hexagonal depressions in the rubber and bumps in the plastic. This piece has the added benefit of allowing the case to slide in and out of a pocket more easily than silicone models generally do.
Although Incipio doesn’t come right out and say it, we see Hive Response aimed at a primarily younger market, one that would be particularly appreciative of both the extra protection it provides and gaming support. For that group, it’s a good looking and feeling case that accomplishes everything it sets out to, albeit in a somewhat large package. If we were to hand an iPhone over to a kid, this is one of the first cases we’d like it in. Those who are particularly careful with their devices may not appreciate the value as much, and the same is true for non-gamers. The $10 premium over the original Hive seems a bit high for what this new one brings to the table though; $5 might be a bit more appropriate. With that in mind, Hive Response is worthy of the same general recommendation as its predecessor. While the appeal is limited, it’s still a very cool case and will serve those who like it well.