iPhone Life magazine

iPhone Cases

Protect your iPhone, add some style, and bring back some of the original allure

iPhone 4 Cases

Just three days after its release, Apple announced iPhone 4 sales of 1.7 million. Yet despite its popularity, the new device is not without its flaws. Apple moved the antenna to the outside rim of the phone in the hopes of reducing reception problems associated with previous iPhones—and AT&T's network! Unfortunately, many iPhone 4 users complain that they experience poor reception when they touch the steel band on the side of the phone. When asked about these problems, Steve Jobs infamously replied, "Just avoid holding it in that way." Fortunately, there is an easier solution—get a case (or a skin). This prevents direct contact with the metal edge band/antenna and eliminates any interference caused by the hand.

In addition to the new antenna, Apple switched to hardened glass for the back of the iPhone 4. Although Apple claims the glass is chemically treated be 20 times stronger than plastic, there have already been complaints from users about broken iPhone 4s.

Because of these issues, cases are more than simply cool accessories—they are must-have protection for your iPhone 4! This article takes a look at a few of the first, third-party cases designed specifically for the iPhone 4.

BodyGuardz protectors

$14.95-$24.95; bodyguardz.com

BodyGaurdz protectors are made of thin film that covers almost all exposed areas of the iPhone. Instead of the iPhone 4's slippery feel, you end up with a rubbery, "grippable" device that is less likely to slip out of your hands. It doesn't interfere much with the look of the iPhone, at least at a distance. The only gotcha is that you have to make sure your iPhone is really clean before you apply the film so dirt doesn't get trapped. Ideally, you should apply the film as soon as you take your iPhone out of the box and leave the phone turned off for 12 hours after applying the skin.

The BodyGuardz does fix the reception problem. In my tests, my signal dropped from 5 bars to 3 bars when I held the iPhone 4 without the film, but with the BodyGuardz installed there was no drop. Three versions of BodyGuardz are available: Full Body protector ($24.95), Back protector ($16.95), and Screen protector ($14.95). Only the first two cover the side edges of the iPhone 4 and fix the reception problem.

iPhone 4 Bubble Slider case

$34.95; hardcandycases.com

BubbleSliderWhile the BodyGuardz is meant to be unobtrusive, Bubble Slider makes you stand out like a rock star. With this slider-type case, you simply remove the bottom portion, slide the iPhone into the case, and replace the bottom. There is an opening in the bottom edge of the case that lets you connect the sync cable to your iPhone, but you'll have to remove the bottom of the case to use the iPhone with speaker/docking stations. The case prevents you from touching the iPhone 4's metal edge, eliminating some reception problems.

A Bubble Slider-encased iPhone 4 is thicker than a naked iPhone 3G, but that's the price of protection and beauty. This is a "slick" case, in both meanings of the word. It's a little slippery, but boy does it look like a million bucks sitting on your desk.

Speck and Otterbox

$24.95-$29.95, speckproducts.com

$19.95-$49.95, otterbox.com


Speck and Otterbox also make cases for the iPhone 4. Speck's case designs suit a variety of audiences, while OtterBox focuses on rugged cases. We haven't had a chance to test their new iPhone 4 cases, but based on their past offerings, we expect quality.

More reviews in our upcoming Buyer's Guide issue!


We will have plenty of additional reviews in the Buyer's Guide issue of iPhone Life magazine (our next issue). In addition to app reviews, we take a look at the best cases, skins, and other accessories.

If you just can't wait, visit our website (iphonelife.com) for the latest news, tips, and reviews of apps and accessories.

iPhone 3G & 3GS Cases

by Torbjörn Kämblad

The iPhone has been a conversation starter for quite some time. However, as more and more people convert to the Apple way of communication, the iPhone is losing some of its initial impact. Fortunately, there are a few cases available that help to bring back a bit of its original allure.

Tech21 iBand

$39.99; tech21.uk.com, sales contact: amazon.com

The Tech21 iBand is unique in two ways. First, it is the only case that is designed like a band going around the phone. Second, it's constructed of "d3o," a soft material that becomes hard with impact, thus absorbing the force otherwise directed at the iPhone. The iBand provides a slip-free grip for gaming and general iPhone use but doesn't interfere in any way with the screen or phone functions. It lacks protection for the back and screen, but is a great conversation starter.

Freshfiber Double Mesh

$52; freshfiber.com

FreshFiberThe Freshfiber Double Mesh protects the back and sides of the iPhone with two layers of laser-sculpted nylon fiber. The inner layer hugs the iPhone tightly, and the outer layer bulges to create an open space between the two that buffers the device from knocks and gives it a bit of a bounce. As with the previous case, it does not protect the screen. The cooling effect of the case is particularly important in hot environments. This is created by the added surface area, the honeycombed design of the outer layer, and the open space between the layers. This cooling effect is most noticeable when I'm playing games.

Speck ToughSkin

$34.95; speckproducts.com/products

ToughSkin's tire tread design makes it the most masculine looking case available for the iPhone. It combines a hard inner shell with a thick outer layer of rubber. The latter adds a little bulk to the iPhone but also improves its grip—you're less likely to accidentally drop your phone.

All ports and functions are available with the case in place. The bottom part of the case hinges backwards, allowing you to use all iPhone docks. The case also comes with a belt clip that is quite flimsy in comparison to the rugged case. However, it still works well as a holster and can rotate to be used as a stand when watching movies in landscape mode. The ToughSkin is a sporty, protective solution that works well, and it definitely attracts attention.

MoGo Talk for iPhone

$129; newtonperipherals.com/products.html

MogoTalkThe MoGo is a complete communications solution, combining a hard polycarbonate case with a Bluetooth headset. It is a brilliant idea, and some aspects of the execution are brilliant as well. The MoGo headset is charged when inside the case using a mini USB cable. When on the go, it is fairly easy to extract the MoGo from the case to answer a call. The headset is well-made and has relatively good sound quality. However, it picks up a lot of environmental noise and using Voice Control to make a call can be a nuisance. It's easy to use the headset on either ear by simply twisting the ear tip around, and since it weighs only 9 grams (0.32 oz), it's quite easy to forget that you are wearing the headset.

One design flaw that bothered me is that there is no protection for the screen of the iPhone. This means that you have to put it down on its back, and if you're not careful, you can scratch the case a bit. However, having a headset with you all the time is great, and even with my minor criticisms, MoGo is still a viable purchase for anyone looking for a complete communications solution. It's not only functional, it looks pretty cool when you take out your iPhone, flip out the MoGo, and take a call.

International style

There is no denying that the iPhone is a beautifully designed product with a unique look and style. With the right case, you can keep your iPhone protected and still looking sleek. Here are some leather cases from four international designers that you may not have heard of yet.

Sarach Flip from Sena

$69.99; senacases.com

sarach casesThe Sarach Flip is a leather case crafted from durable Italian nappa leather. Hand stitching with thick leather string gives it a robust look and feel—akin to something a saddle maker might produce. It has two magnets surrounding the home button and a magnetic material in the flap. It's easy to open the case with one hand and is satisfying to flick it shut again. There is also a credit card slot in the flap, but this is not really handy as it's a bit too tight. The Sarach Flip from Sena is a great case, giving full functionality and good protection to the iPhone. With 5 available colors, you're sure to find one that will match most outfits. The Sarach Flip is my personal choice for everyday use. The more I use it, the more the leather shines.

iVolution Top from Vaja

$75; Vajacases.com

iVolutionVaja from Argentina is a renowned maker of quality leather cases, and the iVolution Top is no exception. The case has a flap extending from the back, around the charge port, and to the top. The flap can be held to the back of the case when making calls. The iVolution Top leaves the phone fully functional and accentuates the iPhone's unique styling. The real strength of Vaja lies in their customization. You can get the case in almost any color and clip solution. The iVolution Top is also available for the iPad that includes a detachable front, which I highly recommend.

BookType Case from BeyzaCases

$34.50; Beyzacases.com

booktypeCombining functions is always appreciated, and the BookType Case from BeyzaCases provides protection and style with a wallet. As a wallet, it works quite well with three credit card slots inside the front flap. The quality of the leather and excellent workmanship of this manufacturer from Turkey makes for a first-rate product. It is worth noting that in a tight pocket the home button might be accidentally pushed, initiating Voice Command. This can happen because the leather over the home button is somewhat loose. The use of canvas and leather makes for interesting combinations of color and texture. The case has a side closure, which means that it can lie down flat on either the front or back. The case can easily be opened with one hand, and all functions are available once opened. If you like carrying your iPhone around in your hand, in a loose bag, or in a pocket, this case comes highly recommended.

Functional, eye-catching cases

These cases aren't just for show; they each add some unique trait to your iPhone. It all depends on what you want from your iPhone experience. So, if you're looking for a great eye-catching case that is also functional, I highly recommend any of the cases I've covered here.