capsule review

Incase Snap Case for iPhone 4

At a Glance
  • Incase Snap Case for iPhone 4

    Macworld Rating

Editor's note: The Incase Snap Case for iPhone 4 is one of the cases included in Apple's iPhone 4 Case Program. For a list of all the cases offered as part of this program, as well as reviews of those cases, check out our Free iPhone 4 Case Collection.

Incase's Snap Case for iPhone 4 is a transparent, plastic shell that, like Belkin's Shield Micra, protects the iPhone 4's corners, back, and left and right sides. Most of the top and bottom edges of the phone are exposed to avoid blocking access to the ports and openings on those surfaces. On the left side, openings for the Ring/Silent switch and the iPhone's volume buttons make these controls easy to access and operate. Similarly, an opening for the iPhone's camera lens and LED flash, on the back of the case, is large enough for both to work properly.

As with the other cases Apple has chosen for the iPhone 4 Case Program, the Snap Case covers the spot in the lower-left corner of the phone where two of its external antennas meet. If you've experienced reception problems due to holding the phone in such a way that your hand bridges those antennas, the Snap Case should alleviate that specific reception issue.

While exceptionally thin and lightweight, this isn't an exceptionally protective case—its rigid-plastic material doesn't offer much shock protection. And like the other free-case-program offerings, the Snap Case leaves the iPhone 4's screen completely exposed. However, the left and right sides of the case extend just far enough past the iPhone's front surface that if you set your iPhone face-down on a desk or table, dust and dirt on that surface won't come in contact with the screen.

Most iPhone cases don't allow you to place your encased iPhone 4 in a dock-cradle accessory without a third-party adapter such as SendStation's Dock Extender or CableJive's Dock Extender Cable. However, in addition to the Snap Case leaving the bottom edge of the iPhone mostly exposed, there's very little "lip" around that bottom edge. The means that the Snap Case is quite accepting, if you will, of dock cradles—I found the Snap Case let me use my iPhone 4 in more dock-cradle accessories than any other free-case-program case.

In fact, this bottom edge is one of only a few minor design details that differentiate the Snap Case from Belkin's nearly identical Shield Micra. The back of the Shield Micra wraps slightly around the top and bottom of the iPhone, and in my testing, this small lip partially blocks large miniplugs and a few bulky third-party dock-connector cables. The lip also keeps some dock-cradle accessories from making a solid connection with the iPhone's dock-connector port. The Snap Case doesn't have these issues, although it does leave the top and bottom edges of your phone slightly less protected.

Another minor difference is that Incase has added an "integrated glare reduction ring" around the opening for the iPhone's rear camera and flash. This black-plastic ring is supposed to keep the case's plastic from adversely affecting photos and videos taken using the camera, but I didn't notice any differences between media created with my iPhone in the Snap Case compared to media created while my iPhone was in any other free-case-program case.

Also, while the clear plastic of the Shield Micra and the Snap Case look similar, they're not quite the same. The Shield Micra's plastic is smooth enough to be a bit slippery, and it scratches fairly easily. The Snap Case's plastic is even smoother—if you have Butterfingers Syndrome, this probably isn't the case for you—but is noticeably less susceptible to scratches.

But perhaps the most compelling reason to choose the Snap Case is that Incase includes a small, plastic stand that can hold your iPhone—in landscape orientation—at either of two angles for hands-free viewing of videos and photos.

The Snap Case doesn't add much bulk or hide the iPhone's good looks. It's also an appealing option if you plan to use your iPhone with third-party accessories, and the included stand is a nice bonus. But the case is quite slippery and doesn't offer a lot of protection.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    The Snap Case doesn't add much bulk or hide the iPhone's good looks. It's also an appealing option if you plan to use your iPhone with third-party accessories, and the included stand is a nice bonus. But the case is quite slippery and doesn't offer a lot of protection.

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