Bumpers: Kinda Perfect, Kinda Flawed

I’m a fan of cases for my devices. It’s not that I’m always trying to keep them in perfect shape, but I find that the iPhone – whether it’s the 4, 3GS or 3G – is too slippery for my hands, and I worry about dropping it. I don’t like a rubbery grip, but I do like something with some kind of texture to it, that way I can hold onto it comfortably. I’m a fan of the incase Slider, but since that hasn’t been released for the  iPhone 4 – yet – I’ve had to look for other options. As of right now, I felt my best option was Apple’s Bumper case, so I ordered a pair for my wife and myself. Being incredibly impatient, when I found them at an Apple store the other day, I went ahead and picked them up and cancelled my previous order – I’m a bit of an “instant gratification” kinda guy.

First, let’s discuss the case itself, because it’s not really a case in the traditional sense. This is designed to set the glass surface of the iPhone just a few millimeters off of the table, seat, or whatever you’re putting it on. It’s made of plastic and rubber, both of which are colored in your choice of hue. The rubber portion is a noticeably different shade than the plastic, but it still works well together as a whole. Ultimately, it serves two purposes: Keep the glass from making direct contact with a flat surface and provide a color accent to the device without hiding most of the fine design features of the phone.

In one respect, this is the perfect case for me. I like to eat at my desk, and occasionally, I will put some potato chips down on my desk, which can deposit a bit of salt. Once I’m done with my snack, I may walk away with my phone to go do something, then I might put the phone down where the chips were. When I’ve done this, I hear this cracking sound that sounds distinctively like glass breaking.

Of course, it’s not glass breaking, it’s salt contacting the glass phone. But it doesn’t stop my heart from beating a bit faster, thinking that I’ve broken my expensive device. This is ultimately part of my problem with the iPhone 4 in general. It seems solid, yet fragile, all at the same time. It feels great when it’s in my hands, but delicate when I put it down. The Bumper solves that problem by keeping it off of the surface directly, if only by the tiniest amount.

On the other hand, this is not the perfect case. It’s expensive, for one. At $29, it’s the same price as my 3GS’ Slider case, which has a back and is completely made of plastic. It seems like you’re paying a pretty heavy Apple tax for something that doesn’t have a lot to it. Yes, it is very solidly designed, and yes, it does the job. I just can’t help but feeling like it would be better priced at $19, which seems more appropriate, considering all the problems people have had with the iPhone, whether it’s related to the antenna or not.

So ultimately, is this the device for you? Right now, you don’t have many other options. The iPhone 4 case market hasn’t quite exploded yet, so until more companies come out with cases, this is your best bet. It’s well designed, and gets the job done, but it’s pricey, making it difficult to put as a “must buy.” If you need a case today, like I did, then this does the job. Otherwise, you may want to wait for one that’s a bit more protective.

Comments

  1. sticky_bit says:

    Black 32 GB iPhone 4 (by Apple) with Black Bumper (by Apple) and front and read Invisible Shield (by Zagg) seems to be the perfect solution fro me… I’ve also slightly modified my 3GS belt clip holster by Seidio and the bumper clad iPhone 4 fits very snugly and I feel very secure housing my iPhone 4 in such a way…

  2. sticky_bit says:

    correction: “front and rear” not “front and read”… and “for” not “fro”. So much for that editors job! ;-)

  3. Hi, Kevin. I agree with your assessment about the iPhone 4 bumper. I have one, but have found I prefer the case I purchased from AT&T (also available at Best Buy). It’s made by iFrogz and allows me to use the iPhone dock without having to completely remove the case. Pressing the button on the back of the case and pulling allows the bottom portion to be removed. It’s made of molded rubber. I’m not sure how much drop protection it provides though.

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