With the iPhone 4's antenna problems and Apple's switch from a plastic to glass body, cases have gone from a cool accessory to a must-have. Virtually any case will eliminate the iPhone 4's reception issues, but with all the different options available, it's hard to choose the one that's right for you. This article describes the types of cases available and makes a few recommendations.
Snap back cases
These are the most common and least expensive solutions. Snap back cases are sleek and light-weight, but they provide minimal protection, mainly to the back of the device. We recommend this type of case for people who want to keep the sleek look of the iPhone 4 and don't require a lot of protection. Prices range from $5 to $30; the recommended snap back case is…
This is the "little black dress" of cases—elegant, stylish, and revealing. It's less than one millimeter thick, so you'll barely even notice it's there. Incipio's Feather case will eliminate antenna-related reception issues and provide protection against scratches and everyday wear and tear. However, it does very little to protect against drops.
Made to wrap around the device completely, the skin protects the device from scratches and will eliminate antenna-related reception problems. However, it provides NO drop protection. In addition, avoid inserting a skinned iPhone in another case; they may bond which can make removing the iPhone difficult. Prices range $15 to $30; the recommended skin is…
BodyGuardz (Full Body)
BodyGaurdz is a thin film that covers almost all exposed areas of the iPhone 4. It eliminates the antenna problem, protects your device from dirt and scratches, and has a rubbery texture that helps prevent the iPhone from slipping out of your hand. However, if you do drop your iPhone, it will not protect it from damage.
These soft pliable cases wrap around the device, covering everything but the display and buttons. These cases provide some drop protection, but I wouldn't recommend throwing the device across the room. In general, they don't add much weight or bulk to your device, but do provide better protection than skins. I recommend this case to the average user who wants to add some inexpensive protection, but also needs a case that can be removed easily for docking. Prices range from $15 to $30; the recommended case is…
Proporta Silicone iPhone 4 Reception Case
Proporta's Silicone iPhone 4 Reception Case is an attractive and tight-fitting case that eliminates the antenna problem and protects against dirt, scratches, minor bumps, and more. One of the ways it differentiates itself from other cases is that it also protects you from disease. According to Proporta, the case has a special "SteriTouch" antimicrobial coating that kills 99.99% of germs.
Hard plastic cases
These cases can add some bulk to the iPhone, but they also protect the back and edges quite well. Most of these cases have raised edges on the front that cover the chrome bezel and lift the screen up off the table to prevent scratches. These cases can withstand larger falls and drops because the plastic takes the abuse rather than the device inside. Prices generally range from $20-$40, but some high-end products can cost as much as $200; the recommended case is…
Seidio Innocase II Surface
This case strikes a good balance between form and function. It's stylish enough so that it doesn't detract from the iPhone 4's design, and it's thick enough to provide solid protection. The case comes in two parts which easily slide together over the phone. It has cutouts that let you access the buttons and sync port at the bottom; if you want to dock the iPhone, the bottom half of the case slips off easily—sometimes too easily!
Hybrid cases cover the case in hard plastic and wrap the plastic in silicon. The combination provides superior protection. This type of case can add more bulk to the device than others and can make it cumbersome to carry around in your pocket. Because of this, you'll find many of these cases paired with a belt clip. Prices usually range $30-$50; the recommended case is…
Otterbox Defender Series
If I ever had to take an iPhone to war, this is the case I'd use. The Otterbox Defender Series case wraps your phone in an impenetrable fortress of silicone and plastic. Protection has always been the number one priority with Otterbox cases, but the Defender Series is actually somewhat stylish (in a Humvee sort of way). This hard plastic case is covered by a soft, shock-absorbent silicon. It also includes a durable, clear membrane that covers the display and allows you to view and interact with the touchscreen. The case comes with a clip-on belt holster. The Otterbox Defender Series adds quite a bit of bulk to your iPhone, but if protection is your priority, this case is for you.
Full coverage cases
Full coverage cases cover both sides of the iPhone and at least three of the four edges. They can be constructed of leather, thin or cushioned cloth, and may even have a metal liner for added protection. Some have a closure at the top of the case; others are open. These cases offer the best protection for the screen, but you have to uncover the screen or remove the iPhone from the case to use it. Many of these cases include belt clips. This type of case is great for travelers who want to combine protection with style. Prices range from $30-$70, but high-end leather models can cost well over $100; the recommended case is…
Waterfield iPhone Smart Case
Waterfield's iPhone Smart Case provides stylish, heavy duty protection for your iPhone. Its multi-layered padding includes a high-impact, rigid insert and a scratch-free liner that cleans your screen every time you put your phone away. For the best of both worlds, get the version of the Smart Case that is designed for an iPhone 4 fitted with Apple's Bumper Case. That way, you can have a slim phone (with antenna protection) when you want it and hardcore protection when you need it.