The iPhone 4 is a thing of beauty. Its industrial design and use of glass and steel sets it apart from other smartphones, but although it looks solid and feels well-built in the hand, it also gives its user a sense of delicacy. And unless you’re extremely careful or you just don’t care about your iPhone 4, it’s a good idea to keep it protected in a case. A case or sleeve will keep your Apple smartphone free from scratches, and in some cases will even save the device from shattering when dropped.
However, a quick stroll through the iPhone isle at an Apple store or Best Buy will be nothing short of overwhelming. There are hundreds of cases to choose from, varying in color, design and price. Which one should you choose?
Here are our top five favorite iPhone 4 cases selected based on design, protection offered, features and price.
1. Snap Case, by Incase
This particular case probably offers the least protection, but some of us are much more careful with our devices than others. It’s also the least bulky of the cases we’ve chosen. It snaps right onto the iPhone, and it’s extremely thin and lightweight, so it’s as close to keeping your phone naked as you can get. The quality of the case is great and seems pretty resistant to scratching. One nice feature is the wide open top and bottom: when you snap on the case, the sleep/wake button, headset jack, 30-pin port and speakers and mic are exposed and unobstructed.
The Snap Case might not protect the iPhone 4 from a high drop or sudden impact, but it’s great for cautious users who might want to set their phones down on tables or other surfaces that might otherwise scratch the phone. Those looking for a minimalistic case will love the Snap Case, and it comes in four colors, though it’s a bit pricy at $34.95.
2. Slider Case, by Incase
We didn’t want to sound like we’re endorsing Incase, but it does make some very solid and reliable protection solutions for the iPhone 4, and the Slider Case is no exception. It is made with quality plastics and the design isn’t too bulky or cumbersome; it doesn’t add a ton of weight or size to your sleek iPhone 4.
The Slider Case does just that – it slides onto your iPhone 4 from both ends and snaps closed at the seam. The case itself is pretty sleek and comes in a variety of solid and metallic colors, and would do extremely well in protecting the iPhone 4 in a fall or from scratches from purses, bags and hard surfaces.
The Slider Case has an opening at the top for the sleep/wake button and for the 3.5mm headset jack, an opening on the left for the silent button and volume buttons and an opening below for the speakers, microphone and 30-pin port. The only issues with the Snap Case are that it isn’t compatible with most docks, and the rear opening for the camera and flash is a bit deep, so when you take flash photographs, the flash is reflected off of the case and ruins pictures. But short of those two downsides, it is a great case for your Apple smartphone and retails for $34.95.
3. Otterbox Defender Series
If you’ve been using smartphones and smartphone protection solutions for years, you probably don’t need an introduction to Otterbox. For years, the company has built some of the most reliable cases for smartphones like BlackBerry and the iPhone. They’ve been tested by getting dropped, thrown, dunked and even run over by cars. So if size, weight and looks aren’t as much of an issue as protection, the Otterbox Defender Series cases just might offer the most protection for your iPhone 4.
The case covers up just about everything that needs to be covered on your phone. The home button and volume buttons are also covered, but give you access to them by pressing on the case itself in the designated areas. With the Otterbox Defender Series case on your iPhone, you’ve basically got everything covered except the screen, cameras and flash, earpiece, microphone and speakers and the proximity sensors and ambient light sensor. Otherwise, it’s like having your iPhone 4 encased in an impenetrable tank.
If you’re prone to dropping your phone a lot, or you work in a rugged environment, this case is your best bet. The case can also be holstered so you have easy access to your iPhone 4 at all times. You can pick one up for $49.95 from Otterbox or stores where Otterbox products are sold.
4. Mophie Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 4
Sometimes you need more than just reliable protection for your iPhone 4; sometimes you need a good extended battery solution. The Mophie Juice Pack Plus for the iPhone 4 is a great case/battery combo for the Apple smartphone. Of all the extended battery cases you can choose from, the Juice Pack Plus is probably the best compromise between size and the amount of power you can get. If your phone is nearly dead, the Mophie Juice Pack plus can, at full capacity, fully charge your iPhone 4 and still have about 25% juice left in it.
The Mophie Juice Pack Plus is also very well built, and slides perfectly onto the iPhone 4. It offers great protection and coverage while leaving an opening for the camera, headset jack and the speakers/mic at the bottom of the phone. As a case, it can offer just as much protection as any other high-end case (except maybe the Otterbox shown above).
The case also has an indicator at the bottom that resembles Apple’s physical battery indicator on Macbooks: you press a button and a series of lights flash to show you just how much juice is left in the case. With the Mophie Juice Pack Plus and a fully charged iPhone 4, you can easily get through two days of use without having to worry about being near a power source. It’s expensive at $99.95, but worth it if you really need the power and protection. Be sure to see our own review of this case!
5. Speck ToughSkin for iPhone 4
The Speck ToughSkin case for the iPhone 4 is another heavy-duty protection solution for your device. It feels like a tank, and it even looks like something the military would use in warfare. The case itself offers a lot of shock protection, and it doesn’t look like anything short of a swinging sword will be able to scratch your iPhone 4 when wearing this case.
We first saw the ToughSkin case at CES 2011, and were intrigued by the dual-layer protection system. A thin, plastic shell hugs the device and offers a line of protection against scratches and some drops. However, a textured and rubberized skin wraps around the plastic shell for even more protection against sudden impacts. And for those of you who prefer using holsters with your iPhone 4, the entire casing comes with a clip-on holster.
It’s a bit bulky, and the design might not be for everyone, but it’s a very solid case and will undoubtedly protect your iPhone 4 from nearly any impact you can throw at it. At $39.95 it’s a little more expensive than the Incase products, but it’s priced less than the Otterbox Defender series case.