When you design a smartphone that’s encased in glass, there will naturally be concerns about the durability of said phone. Though the iPhone 4 has, by most accounts, held up perfectly fine despite its glassy nature, there seems to be increasing demand for heavy-duty cases that can quite literally turn the iPhone 4 into a wall-piercing projectile. In non-military-grade case-related news, more and more manufacturers are releasing Verizon iPhone 4-compatible models—no big surprise there—and beautiful, carved wooden cases seem to be making a comeback. Read on for this week’s scoop on new iPhone 4 cases.
If you’re planning on keeping your iPhone on you during military basic training, you might want to opt for Griffin’s Survivor case ($50). Part of Griffin’s new Armored series of cases, the Survivor case has been designed and tested to meet or exceed U.S. and U.K. military standards. Its shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame is clad in rugged, shock absorbing silicon and includes a built-in screen protector as well as hinged plugs that seal the openings for the dock-connector port, headphone jack, Ring/Silent switch and volume controls. This allows the case to withstand extreme conditions of dirt, sand, rain, shock, vibration, and other environmental hazards. If you want more proof of the Survivor case’s durability, you can check out an entertaining video at Griffin’s Website that depicts a Survivor-encased iPhone being thrown off hills, tossed across hard floors, and thrown through office walls.
Miniot has three new additions to its über-classy line of iWood cases. The Contour ($189) consists of a richly textured wenge base outlined with a band of white maple. The Cobra 4 ($176) uses the contrasting wood species of maple and wenge to form a striking, striped design. And if you go through the trouble (and expense) of purchasing a fancy wooden case, you might as well pick up a wooden dock to match, right? The iWood4 ($26) is a classy wooden dock that accommodates Apple's USB-to-dock-connector cable and matches perfectly with iWood's cases; it's available in Padouk, Walnut, and Wenge wood.
In case the company’s namesake didn’t clue you in, Root Cases’s iPhone 4 cases are made of wood from four different kinds of trees. You can choose from a case made of Walnut ($59), which is hard, dense, and smoothly polished; Zebrawood, a hard, textured wood that gets its name from its distinct, Zebra-like patterns; Wenge ($59), a distinctive tropical wood with a rich, dark color; and Bamboo ($59), a very hard, light-colored wood that's particularly popular with Pandas.
Update 2/18/2011, 11:45am: Miniot, a long-time case maker, has contacted Macworld, claiming that Root Cases has directly copied Miniot's design and construction. We contacted Root Cases for comment, but have not received a reply.
Tunewear's PRIE Ambassador iPhone 4 Leather Case ($53; available from USBFever) is made from smooth, genuine leather, and offers full protection of the back and sides of your iPhone. The case holds your iPhone in place with a velcro side latch that allows for easy removal. The back of the case features a cardholder ideal for keeping your credit cards or ID card within easy reach. The case also comes with the Tunehook, a removable carabiner-style hook that lets you latch the case to just about anything, including a belt loop or bag.
Verizon iPhone case updates
As we explained back in January, the Verizon iPhone has a slightly different design that means, thanks to a Ring/Silent switch that's positioned slightly closer to the bottom of the phone, some existing iPhone 4 cases won't fit the Verizon model properly. Many vendors have announced new cases specifically made for the Verizon version, while vendors whose current cases do fit have been quick to point out such compatibility. Here's the latest in Verizon-iPhone compatibility.
Ballistic: For those in need of extreme protection, Ballistic's Ballistic HC case ($50) features an interchangeable outer gel skin layer, a front facing inward holster, and a built-in screen protector. In case things get down and dirty, the Ballistic HC also includes special connector seals that keep dirt and other corrosive materials out of your phone’s ports.
Exogear: Exogear’s Exolife battery case offers sleek protection for your phone, and includes a built-in lithium-ion polymer battery that can double the iPhone's battery life. The Exolife also features ExoClear technology, which helps eliminate signal interference with your phone; ExoSync technology; which allows for syncing of your iPhone with iTunes while it’s still in the case; and ExoSave, which maximizes battery life by turning off the Exolife when it’s not in use.
Hard Candy: Veteran case maker Hard Candy has modified three of its existing cases to fit the Verizon iPhone 4. The Bubble Slider Soft Touch ($35) is a snap-on, hard case that combines soft-touch texture with the protection of a rigid polycarbonate body. The Bubble Slider Chrome ($35) shares a similar, 3D-textured design as the Bubble Slider Soft Touch, but sports a shiny, metallic polycarbonate shell. The Street Skin ($30) features bold, rugged styling made of tough, form-fitting TPU.
iChair: iChair’s iPhone 4 Case ($34) has joined the ranks of Verizon-ready cases. The slim, plastic, slider-style case sports a kickstand that flips out and props up your iPhone in either portrait and landscape orientation. The case is rubber-coated for a secure grip and a velvety feel, and a microfiber lining on the inside keeps the case itself from scratching your iPhone. To help keep your iPhone looking nice, the iChair iPhone 4 Case comes with front and back screen-protector films, a dust cloth, and a squeegee for applying the films.
iFrogz: iFrogz has modified a number of its iPhone 4 cases to accommodate the Verizon iPhone 4. Styles include the sleek, minimal Luxe Original ($30); the extra-thin Luxe Lean ($25); the psychedelic, jelly-coated Swerve ($30); the tire-tread-designe Treadz ($20); the hip-hop-inspired Wrapz ($20); and the semi-opaque, pattern-etched Soft Gloss ($20).
Pad and Quill: Pad and Quill’s The Little Black Book ($40) has been updated with a thinner design and compatibility with the Verizon iPhone 4. The charming, folio-style case has also been given a camera/flash portal so you can take pictures without removing your phone from the case. This opening could also be useful for taking covert photos, as the case does a great job of disguising your iPhone as a book.