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Review: Griffin Technology Reveal Etch for iPhone 4

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At a Glance
  • Griffin Technology Reveal Etch for iPhone 4

Editor's note: The Reveal Etch 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 Reveal Etch for iPhone 4 is an interesting case in that it combines elements of both silicone "skin" cases and hardshell cases. The back of the case is made of rigid polycarbonate with a carbon-fiber-like exterior finish, while the sides of the case, which cover all four edges of the iPhone 4, are made of stiff rubber.

Like all the other cases in Apple's iPhone 4 Case Program, the sides of the Reveal Etch wrap 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, bottom microphone, speaker, and dock-connector port are exposed for easier access. There's also an adequate opening for the iPhone's camera lens and LED flash.

All the iPhone's controls work well through the case. However, the opening for the iPhone's headphone jack isn't large enough to accommodate some larger third-party headphone-plug casings, and the opening at the bottom of the case for the iPhone's dock-connector port isn't large enough to fit some bulkier dock-connector plugs—including the one on Griffin's own 3 Meter USB to Dock Cable. (Unlike the material used in Griffin's Motif for iPhone 4, the Reveal Etch's rubber is too stiff to be stretched to fit larger plugs.)

As with all cases in the iPhone 4 Case Program, the Reveal Etch 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 Reveal Etch should alleviate that specific reception issue.

Like most iPhone cases, the Reveal Etch 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. You can instead remove your phone from the case when you want to use a dock-cradle accessory, but the Reveal Etch, while not difficult to remove, isn't as easy to remove as, say, Griffin's Motif or Apple's iPhone 4 Bumper.

The stiff rubber used for the Reveal Etch's bumper-like edges has a bit of an odd feel—"drier" than the silicone used in many skin cases—but it does enhance your grip on your phone, and it offers some protection against minor drops and bumps. The rigid back panel should also protect the rear of your iPhone against minor impacts. However, as with the other cases in the iPhone 4 Case Program, the Reveal Etch leaves the iPhone's screen exposed.

The Reveal Etch's appeal is that it offers the thin protection of a plastic shell—Griffin claims the case adds only 1.6 millimeters to the thickness of the iPhone—with a bit of the cushiony edge protection of a silicone skin case. The carbon-fiber look of the back plate also gives the Reveal Etch a bit of style compared to a standard black case.

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At a Glance
  • The Reveal Etch combines the svelte protection of a plastic shell with a bit of the cushiony edge protection of a silicone "skin" case, throwing in a carbon-fiber-style back panel for good measure.

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