XA Wireless Vortex iPhone 4/4S case (90504) review:

XA Wireless Vortex iPhone 4/4S case (90504)

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This XA Wireless Vortex case tells you that life is supposed to be fun. Josh Miller/CNET

However, because the case adds a good amount of thickness all around, pressing down on the handset's sleep/power button and two volume keys is more difficult when compared with when the phone is au naturel. To get to these keys, I'd either have to use the tip of my finger, or press the flat of my finger down really hard so I'd be able to reach past the case and touch the buttons. Furthermore, you can only use earphones or headphones with slim wires to connect to your device. If your headphones have a thick cord beyond its 3.5mm jack, it won't be able to get through the case.

The two compartments connect well. They didn't come apart after I gave it a good shaking and the phone fits firmly into the case. The parts joined cleanly and straight -- edges were flush together and there were no crooked seams.

Unfortunately, the etched designs on the back aren't all that sharp. XA Wireless promises designs that are carved with "breathtaking precision," but the text I saw looked jaggedy.

Furthermore, as sturdy as it feels, there is one fatal weak point. The thin piece of bamboo that lies at the bottom of the home button and runs up to the dock connector port is easily breakable. After I received the first XA Wireless Vortex case, I pulled on this piece while trying to take the case off the phone, and it broke off. When I received another unit, I gently tugged on the same location, and it too snapped off.

This, ultimately, is a huge a deal breaker. Considering the sort of wear and tear a phone and its accompanying case go through on a daily basis, the fact that this one piece keeps breaking off is irritating. Though the case can still essentially work without this one component, for the price of $45, it's not worth it.

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