iPhone cases that split into two pieces aren’t unusual; in fact, slider-style cases have supplanted rubber skins as one of the most common designs we now see. A case that breaks into three pieces, though, is something different, and that’s what Incipio is offering with its Triad for iPhone 4 ($30). Available in five color combinations, the case has a style all its own. Unfortunately, that style comes with some issues.
Instead of just a top and a bottom, Triad has a bottom and two sides. The lower portion is in the shape of an inverted T, while the other two are mostly symmetrical and meet in the middle. We say mostly because the left segment has an opening for the side switch and volume buttons, and a second for the headphone port and microphone, while the right half has holes to accommodate the Sleep/Wake switch and rear camera. One long opening along the bottom provides access to the microphone, Dock Connector port, and speaker; it fits perfectly well into a Universal Dock.
The iPhone 4’s glass display is deeply recessed under a protective lip around the outer edge, one that extends about halfway up the height of the Home button. An included screen protector film—part of the company’s “Vanity Kit,” along with an applicator card and cleaning cloth—provides further protection for the screen. While most of the case is made of thick, hard plastic, there are rubber pads lining the insides of the three pieces, meant to provide shock absorption.
Our big problem with Triad is the sheer level of difficulty involved in separating the pieces—it’s really tough. Even when the iPhone 4 isn’t inside, the segments are holding on to each other for dear life; when the case is on the phone, the task becomes inexcusably burdensome and even feels like it might not come off. Eventually, with enough pressure and wiggling, the T-shaped piece slid out enough to be removed, and we were relieved to find no damage done to the iPhone 4.
Not only is it hard to get the case apart, but a piece fell off when we did. Attempts to separate the case dislodged the diffuser ring that surrounds the camera, an issue that occurred on both of our review units. It’s unclear whether it is supposed to be able to come out so easily, although it wouldn’t seem so. There’s no adhesive holding it in place; instead, the ring relies solely on pressure. While the case can be used without it, there’s no good reason that it should fall off.
We’re accustomed to a certain level of quality from Incipio’s products, so Triad came as a pretty big surprise. It’s kind of a neat idea that we would’ve liked to see succeed, as the case is somewhat protective and the price is reasonable. But the sheer difficulty involved in removing it, combined with the fact that the diffuser ring literally fell off when the case was removed, prevented us from being able to recommend it. Hopefully, Incipio will go back to the drawing board on Triad and come up with a superior version for the next iPhone.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 4