Goofy-proof iPhone 4/4s cases!
October 10, 2011 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Which one of these iPhone 4 cases will resist my goofiness better? Or other suggestions?

Hello Metafilter!
So here's my question plain and simple: I've decided to buy myself an iPhone. I'm goofy (the reason why my current cell phone has a half-functional screen). I don't want to have to rebuy a 800$ toy if I drop it.

I did my homework, but I still wanted to see if the hive had any personal experience with one of these cases. Feel free to share funny or sad stories involving your iphone 4 :) Also feel free to suggest other cases.

Here are the cases I felt gave a reasonable amount of protection, especially against drops, while keeping the overall ease of use of the phone to a maximum (and are not TOO ugly - even if oh my they do hide the beauty of the phone :'( ) :

-Otterbox Commuter
-Otterbox Reflex
-Case-mate tough case (either the regular, the hybrid or the custom)
-Speck candyshell
-Incipio NGP (the see-through grey isn't that bad)
-Impact Band (in white, I'll probably also put protective clear shields on both sides of the (white) phone, or I thought maybe of of these wooden skins would look nice on the back of the phone)
-Incipio DRX
(I have also heard mixed things about the Lifeproof case)

The community here usually comes up with the greatest ideas, so I can't wait to hear your advice guys! :)
posted by kitsuloukos to Technology (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have the iPhone 3GS with the 3GS version of the Case-Mate Vroom case. I ordered the iPhone 4S version to go with my new iPhone.

I drop my 3GS pretty frequently (whoops) and this case has done a fine job of protecting it. Like you, I was very paranoid when I first got the phone, knowing I drop things a lot, and I thought i needed Otterbox-level protection, but I have been 100% fine with the Vroom! HTH. I'll be watching this thread, though!
posted by pupstocks at 6:22 AM on October 10, 2011

Datapoint. We started out with iPhone 3Gs, and we got the Otterbox Defender cases for the phones. One of us had to turn in a phone because it died, and the phone was marked as being in "perfect factory condition" upon return. I know that the phone, in the case, had been dropped on a number of occasions.

I still have my phone in its Otterbox Defender (which is big and bulky for the 3G and 3GS) and I've dropped it on concrete, from pretty high, on hardwood -- and it doesn't skip a beat. So while you have some tough cases up there, the Defender is the one I'd recommend.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:29 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the Incipio DRX, or something close enough to make no mind. It's done a great job protecting the phone, but the left edge of the case is slightly too close to the touchscreen, and you have to push the edge aside when dragging something off the current screen.
posted by zamboni at 6:34 AM on October 10, 2011

I stopped buying all other types of case after using the Speck Candyshell. I drop my phone more often than I'd like to admit and it has never had any damage at all.
posted by theredpen at 6:34 AM on October 10, 2011

I use an Otterbox Commuter and I have definitely dropped the thing onto hardwood once or twice to no ill effect. One of the nice things about the Otterbox models is that they recess the screen making it impossible to drop it onto the screen, at least as far as flat surfaces are concerned. Considering the Commuter is almost-too-big to carry comfortably in my pockets, however, I'd figure out where you're going to keep the phone before investing in a larger model, especially the Defender.
posted by griphus at 6:38 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I saw an iPhone in an Otterbox Defender dropped out of a pocket into dirt, a bulldozer ran over the dirt, and the phone was pulled out afterwards without a scratch.

Next phone I buy will already have an Otterbox to go with it.
posted by deezil at 6:40 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4. It works not only as a hard case, but also as an external battery...and it's thin really not that heavy. You can find it for $50 on Amazon, but I got mine for like $35 on eBay.
posted by inturnaround at 6:52 AM on October 10, 2011

I'm guessing you didn't list the Otterbox Defender because of it's....ah, visual aesthetic. I'll nth the others that the Otterbox series is the best out there for protection. My husband has repeatedly chucked his iPhone across the garage floor over the years without even coming close to phasing it. Protecting the shiny is just what Otterbox does, plain and simple.

If you can't get behind the Defender, definitely go with the Commuter. The reflex is good but it's the least protected model in the Otterbox series.
posted by ninjakins at 6:57 AM on October 10, 2011

I have no case on my 3Gs. I have dropped it more times than I can count, onto every surface imaginable, from a variety of heights. It has a couple of minor scratches, but has never broken or otherwise experienced any problems.
posted by 2legit2quit at 7:04 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use the Otterbox Commuter, and I like it. It seems to do a good job with the protecting (although I am pretty careful with the thing), and it doesn't bulk the phone up so much I can't get it into a pocket. On the other hand, it's not like I've tested a lot of phone cases, so this isn't much more than an anecdote....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:12 AM on October 10, 2011

I had an Otterbox for my iPhon 4 and hated it - it was really clunky and didn't fit well (the rubber part kept popping off). Plus it would get glitter and dust and junk under the screen protector!

I finally got a LifeProof case and I'm so happy with it! I was nervous buying something online that I'd never seen in person, but several Apple store employees recommended it so I took the plunge. It's very light and slim and totally waterproof. I've dropped mine several times with no damage.
posted by radioamy at 8:13 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mrs. Advicepig has the Speck Candyshell and drops her phone more than toddles fling their food. I'm constantly amazed at how often and dramatically she drops her phone, but that case has been perfect for her.
posted by advicepig at 8:18 AM on October 10, 2011

@ninjakins: isn't the reflex more protective than the commuter? Because of the car-crash thingy?

Thanks for the advice everybody, keep it coming! :)
posted by kitsuloukos at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2011

@kitsuloukos My bad. I was thinking of their Impact series which is mostly silicon. Reflex should be solid--in fact, that's just the one I ordered for my new iPhone 4S. Enjoy your phone!
posted by ninjakins at 9:23 AM on October 10, 2011

Speck case with iphone 4: very grippy, almost tacky rubber = not great for trying to get in and out of pockets. However, I've dropped 4' onto tile, concrete, brick, and tarmac with no damage.
posted by nicholai88 at 12:11 PM on October 10, 2011

I did a bunch of research on this when I got my i4. I wanted something close to the ruggedness of the Otterbox, but not quite as bulky. I ended up with the Ballistic Shell Gel and I've been very satisfied. It's a silicone inner layer and a hard plastic outer case. The silicone has corner "bumpers" for added protection.
posted by blurker at 1:14 PM on October 10, 2011

Another vote for the Otterbox Defender. My kids are rough on my iPhone 4, really rough, and I bounce it around a lot myself. The phone itself is in amazing condition. In fact, I'm on my second Otterbox because we managed to crack the hard portion of one already. Yeah, it's a little bulky, but I don't care, because I mostly toss it in my purse, but I can put it in my pocket just fine. A friend was teasing me about having such a bulky case, until I reminded her that she had needed to replace her iPhone four times, while mine is still ticking along.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:22 PM on October 10, 2011

To the people with defenders or lifeproofs, do you have any issues with the touch screen portion of the case?
posted by kitsuloukos at 5:41 PM on October 10, 2011

I've never had any problem using the touch screen.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:26 PM on October 10, 2011

I have the Otterbox Defender, but I had a really chintzy normal plastic case for about a year, and somehow never dropped my phone or otherwise caused it harm. The phone I had previously I would drop about once a week, so I don't know how this happened. My sister has the Otterbox Defender as well, and drops her phone constantly. She slammed a car trunk on it once. It's fine.

A friend of mine works for AT&T and whips iPhones across the showroom all day to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Otterbox (all the phones are always fine). He also gives his iPhone to his 2-year-old daughter when she wants to watch Spongebob, so I have a feeling he isn't too worried about the consequences.

I like having the Otterbox because I don't have to freak out about handling my phone gently all the time. When I use it as an alarm clock I'm not worried that I'm going to drop it in bed and crush it in my groggy state, or something. It does totally get annoying little pieces of lint under the screen, though. It's not very stylish, but I got used to the added bulk pretty quickly.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:36 PM on October 10, 2011

Note that OtterBox is saying that their iPhone 4 Defender cases aren't suitable for the iPhone 4S. They'll fit but they won't work well because of changes to the camera/flash and proximity sensor. OtterBox's new iPhone 4S Defender cases are intended to work with both the 4S and the various iPhone 4 models (original AT&T, Verizon, and White have slight differences). This is consternating because other manufacturers (and even Apple) are saying that all old accessories will work with the new new phone. OtterBox is the first company I'm aware of that's saying otherwise.

The new OtterBox Defender does have larger cutouts around the front proximity and back camera sensors: old, new. The new OtterBox Defender also costs about US$50 from the manufacturer and won't start shipping until October 14, the day the fist customers will be receiving their 4S iPhones. The old model is available elsewhere for closer to US$20. OtterBox has been responsive about the changed case, and they certainly seem to have a good reputation. I'm confident their Defender will continue to be one of the best cases available, but no one (not even OtterBox) has tried the newest design on an actual iPhone 4S yet.

I will be buying one. I just haven't decided whether to buy one at launch.
posted by Songdog at 10:42 AM on October 11, 2011

New datapoint - my Incipio case has cracked open around the logo on the back bottom right.
posted by zamboni at 8:42 AM on November 30, 2011

In case anyone comes back here: I ended up buying Incipio's NGP. I obviously dropped it more times than I can remember, on different surfaces, including concrete/sidewalks. The phone is still alive, and doesn't have a scratch.
posted by kitsuloukos at 12:41 PM on January 2, 2012

And my Incipio has now cracked in four places due to regular wear & tear, and will be replaced with something else ASAP.
posted by zamboni at 5:37 PM on January 11, 2012

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