Having seen quite a few case-and-wallet combos over the past few months with more on their way, it’s safe to call the style a trend. Of those we’ve seen so far, we’ve liked certain aspects of each, but none has warranted more than a limited recommendation because of either missing features, poor design, high prices, or some combination of all three. Two new models take different approaches not only from each other, but from the rest of the pack as well: CM4’s Q Card Case ($40) and Incipio’s Stowaway ($40), both for iPhone 4 and 4S.
Instead of plastic or leather, Q Card Case is made of a combination of soft-touch rubber and faux leather. The rubber is rather pliable, and easily wraps around the body of the iPhone to form a protective lip. It doesn’t have enough elasticity to fully return to its normal shape, though, resulting in edges that bow a bit and don’t cover the bezel perfectly. The look and feel are that of a case that has been stretched out over time. For even more protection, screen film is included. All three buttons are covered but still have a very nice feel.
The wallet portion of this case is the faux leather pocket on the back. It’s slightly recessed and offers room for up to three credit cards, although the fit is very tight. Rather than covering the cards completely, the pocket leaves a little over a quarter inch exposed. This, combined with the thumb hole on the opposite side, makes it very easy to slide cards in and out. CM4 also includes a cleaning cloth with the case.
Incipio took a very different approach to its model, basing it off of the popular Silicrylic case. The case is composed of two layers: a silicone core and a hard plastic layer that fits over top to provide structure and protection. Stowaway covers more of the iPhone’s bezel than Q Card Case does, coming to right above the light sensor and below the Home button, with a scoop for the button itself. The coverage of the rest of the buttons is comparable, however.
This case is noticeably thicker than others from Incipio because of the plastic back. It flips open to reveal a holder for two credit cards or some cash—a nice touch, but the implementation adds a lot of bulk. A small ridge on either side holds the cards in place so that even if the door comes open, they won’t fall out. The door also doubles as a viewing stand. We really like this implementation: it looks very nice, offers multiple features, and holds your cards securely. Incipio includes its standard screen protector film, cleaning cloth, and applicator card with the case.
Of the two cases, we find Stowaway to be the better option, because it provides better protection for the same price, for both your iPhone and your credit cards. The fact that Q Card Case leaves your cards exposed is worrisome both because of prying eyes and the fact that they may in some circumstances fall out. We were also turned off by the poor fit of CM4’s case; it doesn’t affect usability, but it does detract from the overall appeal. CM4 did manage to squeeze more storage space into a slimmer profile, however. Stowaway’s thickness may be a real issue for some, but the clever flip-open compartment will be appreciated by many. It’s the best case/wallet we’ve seen yet, but it still earns only our general recommendation. Q Card Case, on the other hand, falls into the same middling space as so many others, making it worthy of a B-.
Updated December 9, 2011: CM4 has informed us that the Q Card Case’s loose fit is due to a packaging error that has been acknowledged and resolved. It has offered to reach out to any customers affected by this issue and replace the product for them.
Updated May 31, 2012: Almost seven months after releasing the first edition of Q Card Case, CM4 has released a new version that shows improvements over the original. Not only has the aforementioned loose fit of the frame been resolved, but the camera hole has also been made larger to prevent any flash diffusion issues. In addition, the case is now available in four colors: black, white, green, and sapphire. Although it’s not markedly different, these updates are beneficial. We don’t update ratings for revved products, as per our longstanding policy, but the new version is worth considering as an improvement on its predecessor.
Company and Price
Model: Q Card Case
Compatible: iPhone 4/4S