Insights On Early iPhone 4 Case Options

Insights On Early iPhone 4 Case Options 1

Now that the first dozen iPhone 4 cases are available—and since a lot is changing behind the scenes with these cases—I wanted to take a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been testing, seeing, and hearing over the past couple of weeks.


Developers really rushed out the first handful of cases in order to get early options into AT&T and Best Buy stores, and in some cases are going back and fixing problems they discovered only after the iPhone 4 became available. Issues with the iPhone 4 flash have been most widely discussed, particularly in cases from iFrogz that have mysteriously not arrived here for testing, but also in other cases with backs that weren’t cut to allow the flash enough room to fire. Griffin will be replacing early units of its Reveal case (shown above), a sharp-looking clear and opaque plastic design, with ones that don’t have flash issues.


Insights On Early iPhone 4 Case Options 2

Cases we’ve tested from Incipio have been surprisingly solid across the board. It’s “surprising” only in as much as so many competing cases seem to have problems here or there; Incipio’s feel like they’ve hit their stride after years of iterative improvements to older designs. We’re particularly fond of Silicrylic, but NGP Matte is also nice, as is the very similar dermaShot, and Feather’s fine, too.


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Speck’s PixelSkin and CandyShell are already very good, and CandyShell’s getting updated. CandyShell was, hands down, the best iPhone 3G/3GS case after receiving its later manufacturing and color tweaks. The iPhone 4 version is lightweight, looks sharp, and fits really well, though it needs a little help on the bottom in particular to become more accessory-friendly. With slightly better port tailoring, CandyShell could be awesome for the iPhone 4. PixelSkin is a very solid rubber pick for the moment, and we can’t wait to try the new version, PixelSkin HD, which is expected soon.


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Hard Candy and Gumdrop have had mixed results. Both of these case companies are from former Speck exec Tim Hickman, whose latest designs are variations on the cool, quirky themes that he was involved in at Speck. Hard Candy’s BubbleSlider series turned out to be really quite good—similar cases with a rubber interior and button protection would be spectacular—but Gumdrop’s earlier Gumdrop Skin and Moto Skin Cases feel like rush jobs that really needed a little extra development time and polish. We’ve updated our First Looks to show off how the iPhone 4 looks in these cases… they arrived two weeks before the iPhone 4 hit shelves.


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Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumpers? Ugh. There’s not much more to say about the iPhone 4 Bumper “Cases” other than that they’re rip-offs—ridiculous pricing given that they offer no front or back protection, and the rubber/plastic design pinches CandyShell, too, without offering its other advantages. While we like the metallic buttons that are built into the Bumpers, the cases’ almost complete incompatibility with headphone and Dock Connector accessories makes them a huge pain to actually use with anything. We wouldn’t recommend them to anyone.


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United SGP’s Surprise. We were a little concerned that the Leather Pouch Vintage Edition wasn’t going to fit the iPhone 4 properly, given that it arrived a week before the iPhone 4 did, but it’s trouble-free. Sharp-looking, nice leather with the same dark red interior as SGP used on an earlier and similarly nice iPad version of this case. We don’t like or really recommend flip cases, generally, but this is one of the better-looking ones for sure.

There will be much more to say on iPhone 4 cases as the weeks (and months) pass. For now, our advice would be to exercise caution before making a purchase, as there are a lot of not-quite-right options floating around out there in the early days of the iPhone 4’s availability.

  1. The bane of being an early adopter of the new iPhone (iPad, iPod, etc.) is finding a decent case. It’s hard to walk around without one, despite the amount of care you take with your new iPhone 4.

    I wound up getting an iFrogz Luxe case, mostly because I like the grippy, but solid material it’s constructed of, plus it’s very dock friendly.

    I’m hoping Griffin comes out with some updated iPhone 4 cases based on their excellent line of 3GS cases. Until then, I’ll have to settle with the Luxe.

  2. Bumpers are great. I never used a case with my 3GS and wasn’t planning on using a case on the new iP4. Got a bumper last weekend and I really like it. I prefer the bumper to any of the cases you have listed above.

  3. Love the apple bumper. I wish it was compatible with more dock cables, and had more color choices, but other than that, feels great in the hand, offers nice protection from drops and allows the beauty of the iphone to show. All in all a great case.

  4. I am using the iFrogz Luxe Lean case on my iPhone4 and my wife’s as well. So far we both really like them. The slits on the sides add to the grippiness of the phone. Will certainly work for now until the case companies get enough of the cases out for us to try out something different.

  5. You guys should really check out best buys “Rocketfish” soft gel. Didnt like it at first but has proven to be a really nice case. Another +1 on this is the price. $20 dollars isnt to much to ask for for a nice case. Also comes in multiple colors and patterns on the back.

  6. Which Incipio Case is shown in the pic above … I have been to Incipio’s Web Site and cannot identify which case this is.

  7. Agree with some of the above, and disagree with the article. I love the bumper. It doesnt change the feel of the phone, and have no problem with connectors. Yes, it is ripoff at that price though.

  8. I love the bumper too. Stops you worrying when putting down on the table but everything is accessible and doesn’t add much weight. Easier to use the phone when in this case, maybe pricey but then most apple stuff is. Rather it pricey and well built than the contrary.

  9. I’m hoping to see some Multidapt-compatible cases show up for the iPhone 4 soon. Marware, my usual source for Multidapt gear, has apparently discontinued or redesigned all of their Multidapt cases and none of the iPhone 4 designs have the attachment system.

    I personally prefer flip cases (for better screen protection) and the CEO Flip Vue is what I’m currently using with my 3GS. Unfortunately the iPhone 4 version has a non-replaceable non-locking clip, which means that I’d have to worry about it coming off if bumped in the wrong way.

  10. Speck and Contour have produced some of the best cases for the 3g, I’m looking forward to actually seeing some of their cases in person for the iPhone 4 test drive.

    The bumper could have been a great case with better ports, my biggest gripe is that it’s extremely hard to remove from your pocket due to it’s sticky nature.

    It’s impressive these companies can revise designs and get to market so quickly with such short notice on final product details.

  11. iFrogz Luxe is by far the best case made for the iPhone 4
    You can try them at the ATTStore or look for them on Ebay.
    They are very thin, the holes are all cut perfectly and they provide full protection without the bulkiness of all the others.

  12. Bumpers are indeed a rip off but I like them. Nice feel, well tailored to the iPhone and they add a bit of protection without too much bulk. Haven’t had any problems with connectors barring one old one but most of mine are the newer slimline version.

  13. Personally I’m waiting on Switcheasy. They just released their NUDE today, which looks nice, although I’m curious what else they’ll release. I’ve always been a huge fan of their case designs–I swear by them haha.

  14. I really like the Apple Bumpers too! Just the right amount of grip, but still allows me to keep the phone in my pocket.

    Other cases with fully rubberized backs and sized are a real pain because:
    (1) they add bulk
    (2) they pull your pocket lining out of your pants
    (3) they get covered in lint.

    Yes, the bumpers are expensive and even kind of a rip off, but I’m hoping it’s a one time buy. I have also had some third party connectors they don’t work with, but I’m willing to use Apple’s connectors and a USB extension cable to meet my needs.

  15. I’m a power user an on my iPhone 4 all day. I had tried a bunch of cases for my old iPhone 3GS with mixed results. I found one made by MiLi that didn’t add too much bulk and included a built in battery doubling the battery life while protecting my iPhone.

    I am eagerly waiting for MiLi to release the case/battery for the iPhone 4. If it is as solid as the one they made for the iPhone 3GS I’ll be thrilled.

    I got mine on and I think you can get them from other online stores as well.

    I paired one of these with the screen protectors sold on the Apple website and my iPhone 3GS didn’t have a single scratch on it when I listed it on eBay.

  16. I purchased the iFrogz luxe black and like cxc273, really like the solid with softer surface coating. My one complaint is that with the case on, I am unable to plug in my standard car cable into the headphone jack of the iPhone as I can do with my wife’s iPhone 4 when her purple SPECK case is on. Now I can’t play audio through my car speakers which really bites. I guess the hole is too small on the case. I check RadioShack to see if another cable might work but discovered none. Anyone else having same problem?

  17. I’m quite happy with the Sonix hardshell. Didn’t like the rubbery feeling of some of the other cases out there.

  18. Can you give further details on the flash issue withe the Griffn Reveal? How are they planning on replacing the cases?

  19. The Incipio cases suck! The flash reflects off the edge of the hole, and causes horrible flare on the camera lens!!! In dark scenes, the entire image is rendered blue, or there is a crescent shaped flare that covers balk the frame.

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