Every version of the iPhone has its idiosyncrasies, but the most recent incarnation tops them all. "You're holding it wrong
" has essentially been Cupertino's answer to those customers experiencing lost reception and dropped calls. The only consistent workaround, it seems, is to use an iPhone case, which prevents you from touching the phone in all the wrong places, and thus from losing reception. (Apple should have included its Bumper case with the phone, rather than charge $30 for a few scraps of plastic, but so it is.) The iPhone 4 more or less demands a case, and here are some of the best on the market today.
In Apple stores, the Bumper
is the only case available for the iPhone 4. And yet, Apple's first iPhone case is, in fact, hardly a case, but rather a plastic border that fits around the sides and front edge of the device. Glossy plastic sides complement the matte silicone ledges, and it features a silver volume and mute button. Although it only seems to be available in black at this point, models in pink, blue, green, orange and white are due out soon. It's minimal, smart, and, in many ways, seems like something Apple initially built into the iPhone, removed, boxed, and sold for $30. Sigh.
iFrogz Luxe Original
Though the name might lead you to believe otherwise, the iFrogz Luxe Original case is actually a rather sleek, two-piece design. A velvet backing protects the glass, and the phone's sides are protected by bumpers, made from a polycarbonate material that feels like soft rubber. The two-toned style also has a really nice "fading" option, whereby one subtly colored piece bleeds into another.
In a world of bland iPhone cases, Speck's GeoMetric definitely catches the eye. The asymmetrical, triangular relief is emphasized by variedly matte and shiny patches of color. Practically speaking, the rubbery texture gives the device better handling and gripability, and it's hard to argue with a color called DeathRock Black.
Our early favorite in the iPhone case race is Grove's Bamboo, which is milled from solid, FSC-certified bamboo, and boasts a slide-off bottom for easy docking. Color variations are limited to either amber or natural bamboo, and the bezel can be ordered in either stainless steel or black aluminum. The case adds only .07 inches of thickness to the device, and 20 more bucks gets you either an artist-designed case, or lets you design your own (by submitting to Grove's website). You can expect shipping to take four to six weeks at this point, but, if you can find something workable in the meantime, it's definitely worth the wait.
Price: $49; $69
For those looking for something with a harder shell, Griffin's Reveal is an impressively slim option, adding just 1.5 millimeters of thickness to the sides and back of the phone. The one-piece design includes a thin, rubber interior lining, and the clear plastic lets you show the outside world that, yes, that is indeed an iPhone 4 inside.
United SGP Leather Pouch Vintage Edition for iPhone 4
While flip-style iPhone cases are definitely an acquired taste, United SGP's Leather Pouch Vintage Edition is essentially a smaller version of its iPad counterpart. The distressed brown suede exterior and dark red fabric interior is a little bit cowboy and a little bit vampire. The inside is lined with microfiber, it's handmade in Korea (designed in California), and the case comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty.
Of all the major manufacturers, Belkin offered the most diverse lineup of cases at the iPhone 4's launch. In particular, the company's got the market virtually cornered in exercise-friendly armbands, with the DualFit, FastFit, OneFit and ProFit models, each of which has a different strap mechanism and construction. The Pro is the most laden with features, including a water-resistant, moisture-wicking material and a reflective safety stripe intended to protect your new device (and you, we guess) from oncoming drivers.
Price: $24.99 to $39.99
Case-Mate Artist Series
For those looking for something a bit more graphical, Case-Mate's Artist Series includes an impressive roster of contemporary artists and designers, including Chuck Anderson, Shadow Chen, Deanne Cheuk and Nigel Dennis. The case itself is made of a hard plastic called Lexan, and comes as one piece that fits over the back of the phone. Each artist created a group of designs for the series. If you'd sooner submit your own, you can do so for an extra five bucks via the company's website.
iPhone 4 StealthArmor
As it has already done for the iPhone 3G and iPad, StealthArmor has now released its eponymous case for the iPhone 4. Essentially comprised of plastic strips that cover the surface of your phone, the StealthArmor does one better than its "screen protector" counterparts by providing strips for the edges and back of the phone, essentially covering the entire device. The case is available in a transparent model for $25, and in one of a variety of finishes (including wood grain, carbon fiber and matte black) for $45.
Price: $25; $45
For those looking to protect their iPhone 4 as they would their firstborn, the Ballistic HC is ready and willing to provide the goods. By combining an interchangeable gel-like outer layer, a front-facing inward holster and a built-in screen protector, this thing will surely protect the gadget from drops and bumps. In addition, connector seals ensure that dust, sand and snot don't make their way into your precious. It's by no means the slimmest, subtlest case for your iPhone, but it's just about as tough as they come.