Review: SwitchEasy Avant-Garde Series for iPhone 4/4S
In the weeks following the launch of the iPhone 4S, SwitchEasy has been releasing cases at a prolific rate. Some are great (Eclipse) while others are truly forgettable (Lanyard). The most recent is a bundle of four different designs collected together as the Avant-Garde Series for iPhone 4/4S ($35). Blossom, Chateau, Clockwork, and Plank all share the same plastic body, but have different 3-D backs unlike anything we've seen before. True to form, SwitchEasy includes two screen protector films, a microfiber cloth, a squeegee, two Dock Connector covers, and two headphone jack covers with each case.
All of the Avant-Garde cases start with the same thing Bumper-style frame, although unlike Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumpers, this part can’t be used as a standalone case. There are individual holes for each of the buttons and iPhone 4/4S openings along the edges, save for the noise-canceling microphone and headphone port, which share one hole. The frame slides over the front of the iPhone, creating a small protective lip. Although it snaps in place, we wouldn’t trust it to stay in place. That’s where the backplate comes in.
The rear piece slides up from the bottom of the case, attaching to the frame with a system of interlocking grooves. Once it reaches the top, there’s a distinct snap that let’s you know it’s secure. Each of the backplates is a little bit different, both in design and texture. Blossom is a series of raised flowers, leaves, and vines, with some holes exposing a bit of the iPhone’s back. Chateau is similar, although instead of flowers it has a stylized castle setting. Clockwork is a little bit thinner, with gears covering the surface. Finally, there’s Plank. Of the four, it has the most unique texture of the bunch. Designed to look like wooden boards, it is deliberately rough and there are raised and “broken” boards to add to the effect. Unfortunately, the planks look really fake, and feel really odd in your hand.
We appreciate SwitchEasy’s creativity, but Avant-Garde is closer to a “miss” than a “hit.” The totally hard plastic case isn’t the most protective option around, especially with a frame that feels a bit too thin. Lack of button coverage, while not the worst thing, is also a let down from a company that usually does it so well. The raised designs didn’t really work for us either. Sure, it’s a way to really set your phone apart, but it actually looks kind of silly and some of the designs are somewhat uncomfortable in the hand. Overall, the Avant-Garde series is worthy of our B- rating. The limited recommendation comes with the knowledge that some people may truly like the design, but much better cases can be had from the company for almost half the price.