Review: Element Case’s Formula and Ion iPhone 4 Cases Get the Job Done


Formula 4 caseFormula 4 case

Formula 4

I’ve never really understood the reluctance many people have to spend a bit of money on a good case for their iPhones. I realize nobody likes to spend more money than necessary, but is it really reasonable to get upset when the $20 case you bought for your $200 or $300 iPhone 4 isn’t enough to protect it when it falls out of your pocket? To my mind, it’s worth spending a bit more to get more confidence in the protection offered.

Ion 4 caseIon 4 case

Ion 4

Which brings us to Element Case. We’ve written about Element Case a number of times on GeekDad before, but they’ve just come out with two new cases for the iPhone 4, and they’re good enough to be worth another article. They’re not cheap, as nothing from Element Case is, but you get what you pay for.

The Formula 4 and Ion 4 are both made primarily from high-impact materials, including carbon fiber backings that look cool and absorb shock really well. The chief physical difference between the two, accounting for the $10 price differential, is that the Ion is made out of flexible material and the Formula isn’t. This is made clear by the fact that to put the Formula case on your phone requires separating the two parts of the case, putting the phone in the bigger piece, then snapping the smaller piece back on; whereas the Ion case is of the more “traditional” put-one-end-in-then-stretch-it variety. Both seem to offer excellent protection — I can’t afford to risk breaking my iPhone by dropping it to see how good the cases are, but I did try putting breakable pieces of plastic in the cases and hitting the cases with a hammer, and both the plastic and the cases survived without any noticeable dent, crack, or blemish. So there’s that.

Both cases feel good in your hand and are grippable enough that they’re highly unlikely to slip while you’re holding them. They’re both very lightweight — I can tell there’s a bit more weight in my pocket with the cases than without, but not nearly enough to be bothersome. And, presumably because these cases aren’t metallic, I haven’t gotten any signal interference or GPS weirdness as I would occasionally get with the metal Element Cases (the GPS would mostly be right, but sometimes it would be up to about a half-mile off).

Between the two, I like the Formula case a little better just because of its feel in my hand, but I highly recommend both — the Ion, despite being cheaper, is actually a bit more shock-resistant, according to the website. The Formula 4 case retails for $59.95, and the Ion 4 for $49.95. Both cases will fit either AT&T or Verizon iPhone 4s. Both are available only in black, at least for the moment.

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