Sam Brown

To Bumper or not to Bumper, the iPhone 4 Question

Pre-ordering the iPhone 4 from the Apple Store website on June 15th was a must for me and it is fair to say the process was not as smooth as it could have been, but after a solid 45 minutes of trying I managed to get my order in. Fast-forward 9 days and UPS arrive with my NewShiny™.

I’ve had 3 iPhone’s over the years, the original first generation silver-backed iPhone, the plastic backed iPhone 3G and now the iPhone 4. Due to the duration of my mobile contract the 3GS never quite fit and thus I skipped this model. My clear favourite out of all the iPhones was the original silver-backed 1st Gen. The plastic back of the 3G & 3GS I never really liked and got seriously scratched to bits. I cringed every time I saw someone place their iPhone glass-side down on a table to protect the plastic back, I never felt comfortable with that.

When I heard the iPhone 4 was going to have glass on both sides I was both pleased and worried, pleased that it would be more scratch resistant but naturally worried it would be even more delicate and it is safe to say that my concerns were just.

The iPhone 4 looks amazing, without a shadow of doubt a superb piece of industrial design. It feels heavy and solid in your hands even whilst being thinner. It feels like a rock-hard piece of metal and glass. The previous version felt light and throwable, something you used all the time but didn’t worry too much about, this one however feels different. There is little grip and the coated surfaces front-and-back do little to help you. The sides are sharp, rounded yes but still slightly uncomfortable.

Diesel Hastings Pouch

Diesel Hastings Pouch

I have never owned a case for any of my iPhone’s and I have never full-on dropped one or cracked a screen (touch-wood), but last year I purchased the Diesel Hastings Pouch – and loved it. It protected my iPhone in my pocket from keys or coins and placing it on a table was no longer a worry, I only wish I had purchased it much much earlier.

My plan was to use the same pouch for my iPhone 4 however due to the thinner body the device slips right out of this case at worrying speed. My previous iPhone fit snug. So I had a quick scout around but couldn’t find anything I liked for the iPhone 4 and decided to give one of the Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers a try.

iPhone 4 Bumper

iPhone 4 Bumper

Fitting the Bumper was easy enough and the combination of moulded plastic with rubber edges feel great and most importantly offer masses of grip, be it in your hand or on a surface. The metal buttons for volume and power are a nice touch, if only the silent switch had an accompanying one. Sadly the bumper doesn’t quite fit the phone, likely only due to the need to get it on and off with relative ease. Every now and again pressing the power button you can feel the sides of the bumper slide up and down the device, if only by a few millimetres.

Another major downside to the Bumpers is that it now makes your iPhone 4 look like a 3G with a case, which may have it’s benefits to some but with the gorgeous new looks of the iPhone 4 it to me is slightly disappointing. I really love the new look iPhone.

A major upside to the Bumper is that it does do one vital task very well and that is helping you not cover The Spot which if covered kills the 3G signal. /via Daring Fireball.

I plan to soldier on with the bumper attached for now even though I really don’t like it, I feel the lack of overall grip of the device is so low that I fear I’ll drop it at any moment. Hopefully some nice pouches or cases are in the works and will be out in the near future that will suit my taste, but for now the Bumper will have to do. I already miss my NewShiny™.

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Shawn Wall 29 June 2010, 03:52 #1

i just retired my 1st gen iPhone upon purchase of the iPhone 4. I never once had a case for my 1st gen, and it still looks gorgeous. Just take care of it, and you’ll get to appreciate the beautiful design of the device every day for a long time to come.

Steven Grant 29 June 2010, 03:54 #2

I started my iPhone with a plastic case but then I thought, I pay for the iPhone because I like what it does and it looks cool. Why would I want to hide the ‘coolness’ for the sake of a few scratches. Will anyone other than me ever look that closely at it?

I ditched the cover shortly after – sure it has a few lumps and bumps but it’s still in real good condition. I’ve dropped it only once (stupidly put it in my shirt pocket and bent down to pick up my daughter’s dummy) and that left me feeling like a dummy.

It’ll be the same when I get the upgrade to iPhone 4 – show it off…it’s a sexy piece of kit.

Adam 29 June 2010, 03:56 #3

I haven’t had any of the iPhones as I am a Blackberry guy due to the nature of my work. But I do have an iPod touch, and I can vouch for the ‘awesomness’ of the Incipio ‘Feather’ cases. Its just like a protective plastic back, only add’s about 1 or 2mm onto the size of the iPhone/iPod, which you get used too pretty quickly and I completely forget its there. I don’t know how it will get on with the iPhones reception problems, would 1 or 2mm of plastic make a difference?

Just thought I’d mention it incase you haven’t seen them before, defiantly worth looking at!

Darren McPherson 29 June 2010, 04:21 #4

I’ve never tried these but will when I get an iPhone 4.

Thomas Balthazar 29 June 2010, 07:15 #5

Hey Sam,

I’ve used a Sena case for my 3GS for some months now, and it’s great. The leather is very well finished and the iPhone fits really well in it. I just ordered the iPhone 4 version and I’m looking forward to it.

If you enjoyed the Diesel, you might enjoy this one too.


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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.