June 27, 2010
Helps with reception issues
Scant protection Ridiculous price Can restrict dock connector access
I can’t help but be a little angry about Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumper case. It’s great to have had an iPhone 4 case to buy at the same time as the phone, but the price seems very high for what is, essentially, a very small amount of material, and it feels a bit like Apple is taking advantage of third-party cases not having been available in the Apple Store at launch.
A Slight Case
It’s a bit of a stretch to call the Bumper a case. Apple’s given it a very descriptive name, as it functions a lot like a car bumper. The Bumper is a small piece rubber and plastic that fits around the outside edges of the iPhone 4. It basically wraps the edges of the phone in a softer, protective material (and allows access to volume, hold, and ringer buttons).
Because it’s so small, the Bumper doesn’t add much weight to the phone and does make it easier to grip. (It also sits between the phone and the user's hand, which helps with the reception issues some early iPhone 4s have had.)
And that’s basically all there is to the Bumper. It doesn’t protect the screen, much of the face of the iPhone, and none of the back, which is more important with the iPhone 4 thanks to its glass back. It might absorb some drops, but it’s hard to image it providing too much help.
The tight space offered for the dock connector is also a problem since, while it allows syncing via Apple’s included cable, it impaired access to the dock connector for my Belkin TuneCast Auto Live. Though I was able to connect the TuneCast, I couldn’t get the plug to stay in consistently, thus preventing battery charging and operation.
A Fair Price?
Given the problems the Bumper poses, its lack of protection, and that it’s basically a few ounces of material, its price is fairly galling. When I bought my phone, I knew I’d be paying a premium for the Bumper, since it was the only iPhone 4 case at the Apple Store at the time. As the days have gone on, though, that premium price has bothered me more and more.
Sure, it’s smart business for Apple to sell lots of high-profit items to customers, but any other company would price this product much lower – or would be criticized for it.
My advice? Hold off on buying an iPhone 4 case until some third-party options that provide better value hit the market. They should come any day now.