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Review: Griffin Technology Motif for iPhone 4

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At a Glance
  • Griffin Technology Motif for iPhone 4

Editor's note: The Diamonds/Smoke version of Griffin Technology's Motif 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.

Griffin Technology's Motif for iPhone 4 is the closest thing to a soft-silicone "skin" case available via the iPhone 4 Case Program, but its material is smoother and shinier than most silicone skins. Griffin also claims the material—translucent thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)—is stiffer and more resistant to tearing than the company's silicone cases.

The Motif covers the iPhone 4's back and all four edges, and it wraps slightly around the front of the phone to hold the case in place. This front "lip" also protects the iPhone's screen when you place the phone face-down on a desk or table. You operate the phone's volume buttons and Sleep/Wake button through the case, while the Ring/Silent switch, headphone jack, top microphone, and much of the bottom edge of the phone are exposed for easier access. There's also an adequate opening for the iPhone's camera lens and LED flash.

I had no problem accessing any of the controls while using the Motif, although the opening around the iPhone 4's headphone jack was too small for especially large miniplug housings, such as the one on an older set of Shure in-ear-canal headphones. The opening at the bottom of the case also blocks some larger dock-connector plugs—including, ironically, the one on Griffin's own 3 Meter USB to Dock Cable—although the case material is flexible enough that it's possible to pull the material back a bit to fit larger plugs. Of the iPhone 4 Case Program cases I've tested so far, the Motif offers the best access for large-plug accessories.

As with all cases in the iPhone 4 Case Program, the Motif 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 your hand bridging those antennas, the Motif should alleviate that specific reception issue.

Of course, like other iPhone cases, the Motif prevents you from placing your encased iPhone 4 in most dock-cradle accessories without a third-party adapter such as SendStation's Dock Extender or CableJive's Dock Extender Cable. Alternatively, you can just remove your phone from the Motif when you want to use a dock-cradle accessory—of the cases available through the iPhone 4 Case Program, only Apple's Bumper case is easier to remove than the Motif.

The Motif's TPU material is thin enough that the case doesn't add a lot of bulk to the phone, but still offers a bit of protection against drops and bumps. However, as with all the other cases in the iPhone 4 Case Program, the Motif leaves the iPhone's screen exposed.

Perhaps the most unique thing about the Motif is that the interior of the back of the case is sculpted into a diamond-lens pattern—looking through the empty case is much like looking through a "fly's eye" lens. Together with the case's glossy exterior, this design gives the back of the Motif a striking appearance. The Motif is also interesting in that while the case's surface is smooth enough to make it easy to slide your iPhone in and out of a pocket, the TPU material noticeably improves your grip on the phone. On the other hand, that glossy TPU is also a magnet for fingerprints.

As someone who's generally not a fan of silicone "skin" cases, I liked the Motif much more than I expected to. Despite not adding much bulk to the iPhone, it's one of the more protective cases available through the iPhone 4 Case Program, and the Motif's appearance and feel are unique. Of course, depending on how many iPhone 4 owners choose the Motif as their free case, it may not seem unique for much longer.

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At a Glance
  • Despite not adding much bulk to the iPhone, Griffin's Motif is one of the more protective cases available through the iPhone 4 Case Program, and the Motif's appearance and feel are unique.

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