Belkin DualFit Armband

Apple can't make iPhone 4 units fast enough to satisfy demand, even with woeful stories of antenna problems and the potential of a smashed phone. To get the most from your iPhone, it's pretty clear you need to pop it into a case or protective screen of some sort.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 4 Case Program has ended, which means Apple isn't giving out any more free cases. If you missed on this then take a look through the following selection &mdash we're sure you'll find something you'll like, or hate as the case may be (pun unintended).

There are cases here from Belkin, Cygnett, Griffin, Gumdrop, Hard Candy, Laser, Macally and PADACS.

We wrapped each case around an iPhone 4 and worked out which ones are duds and which are winners.

RRP: AU$34.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: sports fanatics who can't bear to be without their iPhone 4 can use this neoprene arm band to carry their phone and music with them. Encasing the iPhone 4 entirely in a snug sleeve, antenna issues are a non-factor, although you could conceivably do the screen some damage if you tripped the wrong way.

What we hated: it feels distinctly like having a sphygmomanometer wrapped around your upper arm, with the weight of the iPhone 4 behind it.

Verdict: a decent choice for iPhone 4-loving sports junkies.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin Grip Vue

RRP: AU$29.95
Rating: 6/10

What we liked: the Grip Vue is, like Cygnett's very similar SecondSkin, a silicone case that pops on and off the iPhone 4 easily. Unlike the SecondSkin, it's essentially a clear case rather than a cloudy one. Our review sample was entirely clear, but tinted blue and purple cases are also an option.

What we hated: like the other silicone cases, it's pretty ugly compared to the iPhone 4 itself.

Verdict: ugly but functional. Useful for protection purposes only.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin Grip Ergo

RRP: AU$29.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: the Grip Ergo has a wavy contoured pattern on the back that makes it very easy to grip. It also comes with a hand strap that connects lanyard-style to the case but not the phone. The chances of dropping your iPhone 4 would thus have to be pretty remote. It's available in clear, blue and black variants — our review sample was the very dark black version.

What we hated: it doesn't leave the iPhone 4 looking much like an iPhone 4 when it's placed on. The hand strap isn't adjustable, so it's still a potential snatch and grab risk.

Verdict: good for protection and hand holding.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin ClearScreen Overlay

RRP: AU$19.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: like screen overlays from time immemorial, Belkin's ClearScreens offer three razor thin slivers of plastic, designed to protect your iPhone 4's screen from scratches and grit.

What we hated: like screen overlays from time immemorial, they can be very tricky to get on without bubbles and grit forming under them. Get it right and they look good and protect well. Get it wrong, and it looks like you just fished your iPhone 4 out of a bin.

Verdict: a good product, but still very tricky to apply.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin Shield Eclipse

RRP: AU$34.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: the Shield Eclipse is like the weird mutant child of Belkin's own soft Grip Vue on the sides, matched up with the hard plastic of Cygnett's Frost case. Except only half the back is frosted, so you can still show off the Apple logo on the rear. It comes in White, Black, Blue and what we'll assume is red, but called "Chilli Pepper".

What we hated: the Shield Eclipse really buries the mute switch, making it tough to use. It's a very odd mix of styles indeed, and one which we're not sure will appeal to too many iPhone 4 users.

Verdict: a solid case with some very odd design decisions thrown in.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin Verve Pull

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 3/10

What we liked: the Verve Pull should appeal to fans of "The Man In The Iron Mask", as that's the functional equivalent of what this iPhone 4 sleeve does. It completely covers the screen save for a small window through which you can see the current time or caller ID. For those worried about an iPhone 4 surviving in a bulging briefcase, this could be a very good case option.

What we hated: it's completely impossible to operate the iPhone 4 with it in the Verve Pull case in any real way. Removing it from the case involves pulling the Velcro-tipped tab at the back, but this is a slow and fiddly procedure that'll lead to lots of missed calls.

Verdict: not so much a case; more an iPhone 4 Ned Kelly Simulator.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin FastFit Armband for iPhone 4

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: in terms of what you get in the box, it's hard to look past the FastFit. It's a fully sealed iPhone case with a back clip. And an armband. With a capsule holder that slots on and can be used to loop your headphones around.

What we hated: it doesn't look that great, and the plastic screen on the case makes the iPhone screen much less responsive than most other cases.

Verdict: good for those who want to use a case in lots of different scenarios, but not a great case by itself.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin Grip Edge (Editors' Choice)

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 9/10

What we liked: from the front, the Grip Edge looks much like any other black plastic case. The buttons work well and it covers the dreaded antenna areas well. Flip it over and you find a small leather pad on the back that's among the most comfortable to hold we've tested.

What we hated: there's no subtle way to put this. The Grip Edge makes your iPhone's bum look big, because it makes it bigger.

Verdict: a great case, albeit not the slimmest option available.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Belkin Grip Graphix

RRP: AU$24.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: the Grip Graphix is a basic silicon case with a dab of style; an embossed pattern that sways across the back of the case in vivid blue, purple or black tones. If you want a case that stands out and demands to be noticed, you could do worse.

What we hated: the design totally overtakes the iPhone 4 design, leaving it not much more than a screen.

Verdict: an interesting style choice; some will love it and others loathe it.

Updated:
Photo by: Belkin / Caption by:

Cygnett Molecule

RRP: AU$24.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: from the front the molecule case looks like any other silicone bumper-style case. Its selling point is that the back is perforated with over a hundred tiny holes. Coloured inserts are provided, so you can change the two-tone effect on the back at whim. As with most of Cygnett's cases, a gloss screen protector is also provided.

What we hated: the molecule touts its "talcy" feel as a selling point, but talc aids in lubrication, making this a slightly slippery casing. The colour change ability only applies to the back, and how much time do you really spend staring at the back of your iPhone 4?

Verdict: a decent idea, but a slippery case.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Cygnett OpticClear

RRP: AU$24.95 (pack of 3)
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: Cygnett's OpticClear protectors have a matte finish, reducing the screen glare, although this is less of a problem on the iPhone 4's retina display than on many mobiles. The pack contains three front covers and one back cover, along with a cleaning cloth and smoothing card.

What we hated: like most screen protectors, getting the OpticClear protectors on can be a challenge to your sanity, unless you like on-screen bubbles. The matte finish also changes the resistance on the screen. This doesn't affect usability, but does feel quite odd compared to the regular slick screen.

Verdict: good for those prone to scratches who do a lot of outside work.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Cygnett Frost

RRP: AU$24.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: the Frost is a hard plastic case available in a variety of tints. Our review sample was a dark purple colour that all but obscured the Apple logo on the back of the phone if you're not fond of Apple branding. Like other Cygnett cases, a screen protector is provided. It's also very slim indeed, adding around 1mm to each side of the phone.

What we hated: this is a solid hard case that would take the impact of a drop, but not disperse it in the way a soft case could.

Verdict: a suitable protection case, but not the snazziest in terms of looks.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Cygnett Prism

RRP: AU$24.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: the Prism is all but identical to the SecondSkin case, in that it's a clear case (with blue and red tint variants) but with an etched pattern on the back. It's good for covering signal woes and covers the volume buttons without impeding their use. Like other Cygnett cases, a screen protector is provided.

What we hated: the etched pattern is an absolutely aesthetic choice. Some thought it looked neat, while others commented that it made it look like the back of the case had mould growing up it.

Verdict: a decent case, but one where you'd have to love the style it offers.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Cygnett Glam

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 6/10

What we liked: the Glam case lives up to its name, with a glossy patent leather finish — ours was a bright purple and pink — that folds out attractively and does an excellent job of physically protecting the front and back of the iPhone 4

What we hated: the Glam is unusual in iPhone 4 case design in that it doesn't cover the antenna points where you can affect signal strength, although you would have to hold it quite oddly to achieve this. More problematic was the button cover, which is quite loose. We found we often had to jab hard at the button to get it to push down enough on the real button for response.

Verdict: a great looking case with some definite physical issues.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Cygnett SecondSkin

RRP: AU$19.95
Rating: 6/10

What we liked: the SecondSkin is Cygnett's take on a silicone case. They're as simple as cases get. Just a bit of frosted white rubbery material that slips on or off the iPhone easily, and doesn't interfere with the phone operation in any significant way. It also comes with a screen protector to be applied separately.

What we hated: like most silicone skins, it's pretty darned ugly. If you bought an iPhone 4 for the aesthetics, this ruins it. As with most rather light cases, it's also light on the protection front, although it does cover the antenna issue nicely.

Verdict: cheap and simple, but undeniably ugly.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Cygnett Snaps Duo

RRP: AU$24.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: the Snaps Duo is a twin pack of Apple bumper-style cases, along with screen and back protectors, so it's theoretically easy to mix and match your bumper style to your mood. They're easy to apply and totally cover the antenna area.

What we hated: as with most silicone cases, there's a slick rubbery feeling to the sides that takes some getting used to. With only basic screen protectors on the front and back, there's also not a whole lot of protection going on with these cases.

Verdict: good for those who want to mix and match, but not great on the protection front.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:

Griffin FlexGrip

RRP: AU$24.95
Rating: 6/10

What we liked: the FlexGrip is Griffin's take on a standard silicone case, this time with a dark smoky finish. Like the other silicone cases, it's easy to take on and off and covers the naughty antenna blocking areas nicely.

What we hated: like the other silicone cases, it's not much for enhancing the look of the iPhone 4, but it does make it quite a bit thicker.

Verdict: a simple but not terribly attractive case.

Updated:
Photo by: Griffin / Caption by:

Griffin Elan Form

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: the Elan Form is a hard case with a leather back. This gives it rigidity and protection along with a modicum of grip.

What we hated: it's tricky to get on and off. The hard back isn't that thick, and we wonder if a hard drop on a pointy enough object wouldn't just transfer the force through to the iPhone 4's backplate anyway.

Verdict: a rather simple hard case.

Updated:
Photo by: Griffin / Caption by:

Griffin Elan Form Graphite

RRP: AU$49.95
Rating: 6/10

What we liked: take the Elan Form, and replace the leather back with a graphite plastic one, and you've got the Elan Form Graphite. Essentially, it's a hard case in two parts. This gives it rigidity and protection along with a modicum of grip.

What we hated: it's tricky to get on and off. The hard back isn't that thick, and we wonder if a hard drop on a pointy enough object wouldn't just transfer the force through to the iPhone 4's backplate anyway.

Verdict: a simple hard case, only slightly different in real-world use to the standard Form case, but at a price premium.

Updated:
Photo by: Griffin / Caption by:

Griffin Reveal (Editors' Choice)

RRP: AU$29.95
Rating: 9/10

What we liked: just bought a new iPhone and want to show it off while protecting it? You may well get mugged, but the Reveal case is designed for you, with rubber bumper-style protection on the front and a totally clear back. It's also the only case in our round-up that's also part of Apple's free case promotion, if you're quick enough to take advantage of it.

What we hated: if you get a bit of grit trapped behind the back it shows up terribly rather than falling off or being obscured, but who spends serious time looking at the back of their phone? The tight grip also makes it a little tricky to remove if you need to.

Verdict: a slim and attractive way to protect and show off the iPhone 4.

Updated:
Photo by: Griffin / Caption by:

Griffin Elan Holster Metal

RRP: AU$49.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: the Elan Holster is an exceptionally solidly built holster with a stiff belt clip, making it hard to drop the iPhone, and highly likely it'll survive if you do. At the same time, the design makes it very easy to slip the iPhone 4 out for direct usage.

What we hated: in making a protective case, Griffin's had to make it quite bulky. If you bought an iPhone 4 on the promise of its slim nature, this ruins that feature. As a complete holster, it's also impossible to operate the iPhone while it's ensconced within the Elan Holster.

Verdict: a great protection and portability focused case.

Updated:
Photo by: Griffin / Caption by:

PADACS Breeze

RRP: AU$32.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: the Breeze is a flip-top case with a slot that the iPhone 4 sits in, eliminating antenna worries. The magnetic clasp holds the unit solidly, and the leather exterior should offer good protection to both the front and back.

What we hated: it's very chunky for an iPhone 4 case. If you're upgrading from a 3GS, you'll lose all the extra slimline style of the iPhone 4 and then some.

Verdict: a bulky case that offers good protection.

Updated:
Photo by: PADACS / Caption by:

PADACS ScreenGuard for iPhone 4

RRP: AU$11.95
Rating:8/10

What we liked: PADACS's take on the standard screen protector is a little cheaper than the competition, and comes with both front and rear covers. They're as easy to apply as any other, really.

What we hated: which means they're not that easy at all. Like most screen protectors, getting the ScreenGuard protectors on can be a challenge to your sanity, unless you like on-screen bubbles.

Verdict: a decent budget screen protector.

Updated:
Photo by: PADACS / Caption by:

PADACS GlareGuard for iPhone 4

RRP: AU$12.95
Rating:8/10

What we liked: like the GlareGuard product for iPad that we've looked at before, or Cygnett's OpticClear protectors, the GlareGuard product offers a modicum of screen protection as well as glare reduction on the iPhone 4's screen.

What we hated: just as with the Cygnett glare-reducing protectors, there's less call for glare reduction on the iPhone 4's smaller and more vibrant screen. As with any screen protector, getting them on the phone can be a real trial of your sanity.

Verdict: good budget screen protection with added glare reduction.

Updated:
Photo by: PADACS / Caption by:

Laser iPhone 4 Bumper Guard case

RRP: AU$24.95 for a pack of four
Rating:6/10

What we liked: Laser's take on a bumper is much like any other bumper. Good for protecting the sides of your iPhone 4 and banishing pesky reception problems. The Laser bumper has hundreds of tiny indents down the sides, giving it a little more frictional grip. One nice aspect is that it ships in packs of four, giving it some economy, especially if you've got three other friends owning an iPhone 4.

What we hated: just like every other bumper, it's doing precious little to protect the front or back of the iPhone 4. It also comparatively felt a little softer than other bumpers, which could play into its long-term durability.

Verdict: a very average bumper case, but at least it's inexpensive.

Updated:
Photo by: Laser / Caption by:

Hard Candy Candy Slider

RRP: AU$49.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: while the name evokes images of the slider phones that were all the rage five years ago, the Candy Slider is just a two-part hard polycarbonate case in red, pink, silver or black. The construction is very solid, and it doesn't obstruct the buttons significantly.

What we hated: as with many slip-in cases, getting the iPhone to fit in quickly can be a bit challenging. At AU$49.95, it's also on the pricier side of things.

Verdict: a good case for those who want a solid, no-fuss case solution, albeit not cheap.

Updated:
Photo by: Hard Candy / Caption by:

Hard Candy Bubble Slider

RRP: AU$49.95
Rating: 7/10

What we liked: the Bubble Slider is the cousin of the Hard Candy Slider; a two-part hard carbonate case in bright colours with solid construction. The Bubble part of the name comes from the round indents that are embedded in the back of the case — think classic series Doctor Who Tardis — that give it a little extra grip.

What we hated: like the Candy Slider, exact iPhone positioning can be a little tricky, and not everyone will like the feel of the tiny round indents on the rear of the case. Like the basic slider, it's also a higher priced iPhone 4 case.

Verdict: a solid case with decent grip.

Updated:
Photo by: Hard Candy / Caption by:

Macally Black Silicon Protective Case

RRP: AU$34.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: from the front, the Macally looks like any other silicone case. Flip it over, though, and you'll find an embedded cleaning wipe with a sticky side. The non-sticky side can clean the iPhone 4's screen whenever needed and then stick back onto the case.

What we hated: over time, it's inevitable that the sticky wipe will lose its stickiness and effectiveness. If you're using a screen protector as well, there's a potential to start dragging it off the iPhone.

Verdict: a clever mix of case and iPhone cleaning solution.

Updated:
Photo by: Macally / Caption by:

Gumdrop Skin

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 8/10

What we liked: the Gumdrop skin is yet another silicone case, but a silicone case with a slight difference. It's covered with hundreds of traction-granting bumps, giving it a very unique look and feel, and plenty of grip.

What we hated: the same bumps that give it traction also make it easy to snag in a pocket against other things in your pocket or purse.

Verdict: a case with great grip potential, for both better and worse.

Updated:
Photo by: Gumdrop / Caption by:

Gumdrop Airshell

RRP: AU$49.95
Rating: 6/10

What we liked: the Airshell most closely resembles Cygnett's Frost case in that it's a hard back that you snap the iPhone 4 into, protecting the back and covering the antenna connectors nicely. Ours was a lurid green colour and very nice and thin, keeping the iPhone 4's form factor nicely lithe.

What we hated: as a thin case, there's little in the way of shock protection built in, and practically nothing at all at the top and bottom of the case itself. It's also a more costly case than most.

Verdict: a super-thin case, but not the cheapest alternative.

Updated:
Photo by: Gumdrop / Caption by:

Cygnett Aviator

RRP: AU$39.95
Rating: 9/10

What we liked: the Cygnett Aviator is arguably the most stylish iPhone case on the market with its aluminium skin, and it comes with a rubberised plastic insert that provides some degree of shock protection. The port holes are generous, but if this isn't enough it's easy to slide off the bottom to provide better 30-pin connections.

What we hated: with extended use the case doesn't fit as snugly as it once did, and may slip off with time.

Verdict: one of the best cases on the market, and excellent value for money.

Updated:
Photo by: Cygnett / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET Forums

Looking for tech help?

Whether you’re looking for dependable tech advice or offering helpful tricks, join the conversation in our forums.

Hot Products