BodyGuardz/NLU Products’ Shelter ($30) is one of the many recent cases for the iPhone 4 to mix plastic and rubber together in an effort to get the best properties from both materials. In this instance, the case has a hard body with a wide stripe of soft material down the center of the back and around the front edge; there are also dashes of the softer material running along the inside. Included in the package are a sheet of the company’s glossy screen protector film and a polishing cloth.
Because of Shelter’s shell-style setup and the combination of plastic and rubber, it can be a bit difficult to insert and remove the iPhone 4. You must push it in past the rubber lip, which can get tucked underneath itself—a problem that Speck’s pioneering two-material CandyShell cases avoid. With a little bit of maneuvering, Shelter’s lip will sort itself out. There’s coverage for the Sleep/Wake button as well as the volume rocker, and we particularly liked the feel of the latter. All of the openings that one would expect are there, and the case extends just a little bit above over the glass Multi-Touch front surface. BodyGuardz’ materials don’t feel as nice as many of the alternatives; both the rubber and plastic could stand to be improved.
We did experience serious issues when using Dock Connector cables other than those supplied by Apple with its most recent generation of products. The opening for the iPhone 4’s bottom port is very small, and rather than exposing the iPhone 4’s bottom surface, thin plastic surrounds the hole—a decision that was surely made in an effort to protect the iPhone 4 to the greatest extent possible. Unfortunately, while Apple’s current plugs fit fine, we experienced instability and frequent disconnections when using others: they seemed to fit, but didn’t stay in place, a particular issue when connecting a Shelter-covered iPhone 4 case to in-car accessory cables. If you’re using anything other than the cable that came with your iPhone 4, look out.
Overall, Shelter is just an okay case; there’s nothing about it that really stands out. The fact that we had issues with the Dock Connector port and insertion and removal of the device itself are legitimate problems. We give BodyGuardz credit for trying something different, but in this case, the result isn’t better than pre-existing alternatives. With some additional fine-tuning, a sequel could be a better option.
Company and Price
Company: BodyGuardz/NLU Products
Compatible: iPhone 4