We’ve expressed our distaste for iPhone 4 bumper-style cases before, starting with Apple’s own iPhone 4 Bumpers and continuing through other, similar models. Particularly at regular case price points, their lack of protection really doesn’t justify their use. Thankfully, some companies have chosen to use the Bumper design only as a starting point for their cases; Japan’s Caze is amongst them with its new fashion-friendly Duetto Case-Back for iPhone 4 ($27).
Duetto is composed of two main components: a plastic edge-covering bumper and a back plate. Though we’ve knocked Apple for pricing Bumpers too high, we give the company credit for the side protection its bumpers provide, especially compared to Caze’s. Instead of a dual-material construction or even integrated button coverage, the Duetto bumper is a simple, thin piece of not-especially-sturdy-feeling plastic that wraps around the stainless steel antenna. It sits flush against the iPhone 4’s screen, offering no lip for drop protection.
There are individual holes for all of the buttons and ports, and the one on the side is large enough to work with both AT&T and Verizon phones. All of the openings are rather tight, although Duetto does fit in Universal Dock Connector accessories. Rather than stretching around the frame, the bumper separates at the bottom like a slider-style case. The bottom developed a seam-splitting crack at the Dock Connector port opening after just a few days of being transported in a bag.
The other piece of the case is a back plate, and it’s made of the same material. Caze actually includes two so that the user may choose which one he or she likes best, alternating at any time. It fits into a groove inside the bumper, and when the bottom piece is attached, it stays securely in place. As it’s pretty thin, it’s unclear how much of a drop it will survive, but it should at least help prevent scratches. If the aforementioned bottom piece doesn’t crack from regular use, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise for it to break if your iPhone takes a tumble.
Also included with the case are two protective films—one for the front, the other for the back—a screen applicator card, a polishing cloth, and two Home button stickers that match the two backplates. We don’t see a lot of these stickers but do kind of like them, as they add a bit of character to the otherwise plain front of the iPhone 4.
Caze’s idea is right on. Combining a bumper with interchangeable rear coverage is smart, and would appeal to many iPhone 4 users—especially bundled with films and Home button stickers. Unfortunately, the company didn’t pull most of the execution off very well. From the really thin plastic that cracked within days to the lack of side button protection and the absence of a lip over the screen, it really would benefit from a substantial redesign. If Caze were to take another swing at it, it may have greater success, but in the form Duetto currently takes, it’s somewhat of a mess, and not worthy of your consideration.
Company and Price
Model: Duetto Case-Back
Compatible: iPhone 4