The iPhone 4 Bumpers from Apple are fine, as far as they go. The problem is that they don’t really go much further than preventing the “death grip” signal-loss problem from occurring: they come off too easily, are pretty flimsy, and really aren’t very attractive. Enter the Vapor Pro case from Element Case — problem solved.
I reviewed the Vapor cases back in October, and while they were very nice-looking, they did have the drawback of actually contributing to the signal loss. Well, I don’t know if it’s the “aerospace polymer insert” that the company claims fixes it, but the Vapor Pro cases have no such problem at all. They’re not as shiny, but just as high-tech attractive, and they look and feel strong enough to protect the phone from quite a bit. The case attaches around the perimeter of the iPhone, with gaps for the controls and sockets, and comes with an aircraft-grade carbon fiber backplate that sticks on with strong (but removable) adhesive. The case extends above the surface of the phone’s front by a few millimeters — not enough to affect the usability of the touchscreen, but enough to protect the screen from most drops. (Note that I, not having access to any spare iPhone 4s, did not actually try dropping mine to see how well the case prevented breakage. My commitment to providing accurate reviews to GeekDad’s readers does only go so far.)
I do also have to say that the folks at Element Case have done a remarkable job making a strong case that is yet astonishingly light — it weighs only 22 grams. And they’ve created a kit that includes a zipper case and a custom screwdriver that makes assembling the case around your iPhone take only a few minutes. As if that weren’t cool enough, they’ve just released their Vapor Pro Black Ops line, which I’ve not tried but which is (apparently) identical in form but cooler in appearance. All of the Vapor Pro cases fit both AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4 models. And now we get to the downside to the case: the price. Vapor Pro cases (both First Edition and Black Ops) sell for $149.99. That is a heck of a lot more than the free bumpers, but if you consider that Apple will likely charge you about $200 to replace a broken screen, the cases’ price doesn’t seem quite so stratospheric.
And now the part you’ve been waiting for: the giveaway: The folks at Element Case are very generously offering one Vapor Pro First Edition or Black Ops case to a lucky GeekDad reader (and resident of the U.S. or Canada — sorry)! Leave a comment on this post telling us what feature the iPhone 4 doesn’t have that you most wish it had, or what feature it has that you could most do without, by noon EDT on Monday, April 4, 2011. One comment will be chosen at random at that time to be the winner, so be certain you use a Disqus account with an email address that will reach you to make your comment, because you might as well not bother entering if you don’t — no fooling.
Note: GeekDad received a sample Vapor Pro case for review.