Archive for the ‘iPhone Accessories’ Category

This case is the third of three Seidio cases we have reviewed. Our review of the Rugged and Surface cases for the iPhone 4 can be found here.  The Innocase Active case is Seidio’s offering in the mid-level hybrid case category. This simple, two-part design incorporates a flexible rubber inner layer and a hard plastic outer layer. The subtle metallic-looking finish of the outer layer nicely highlights the molded design on the back of the case. The Active model we reviewed featured a dark burgandy overlay, making it a two-tone case.

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Installation was fairly easy, but slightly more difficult than the Surface or Rugged cases. The cutout for the camera and flash (which isolates those two components) mirrors the brilliant design of the Rugged and Surface cases. The cutout for the headphone and microphone also works well. The rubber underpart allows for easy operation of the volume rocker buttons, but makes for difficult operation of the sleep/wake button. For some reason, the sleep/wake button area is much less responsive, possibly due to too much rubber over that button.. The silent mode switch on the side of the phone is exposed through a cutout in both layers, but is a bit difficult to access without the help of a fingernail. If you keep your fingernails fairly short, or if your fingers aren’t narrow or dainty, you might have trouble as well. The universally undesirable feature of most two-part cases is the floppy part of rubber just below the home screen button on the botton front of the case. We found the grippy rubber would easily catch on things and pull away from the phone, temporarily exposing that area of the phone.

The Inncoase Active model I reviewed came with a belt clip holster. Personally, we’d never use or transport this case without utilizing the holster. That’s because the rubber attracts lint, grabs onto clothing, and therefore makes it very impractical for storing in a pocket. The grippy quality that protects the phone and keeps the screen from getting scratched (when lying face down on a flat surface) makes this case overly grippy for our liking. We even found the rubber on the top of the phone to be so grippy that the spring-loaded clip of the holster would often get stuck on it, requiring a little creative finger-work when inserting or removing the iphone from the holster. The Surface case (while not as protective as a two-layer design) offers enough drop protection for our daily needs and enough grip to keep it from sliding on most surfaces, yet allows easy insert-removal for pocketed use. Again, not so with the Innocase Active.

Aside from the slightly unresponsive wake/sleep button, the hard to access silent mode switch, and the floppy rubber lip on the front bottom of the case, the only glaring design issue we encountered involved the actual finish of the rubber underpart. The model we reviewed may have been a manufacturing anomaly, but after just a few days of use, the matte surface of the  rubber started to wear off along the edges of the phone, only to reveal a shiny black rubber underneath.

It’s almost as if the underpart is made of a shiny rubber with a matte rubber  treatment on top. Regardless, what resulted was a very unattractive half-shiny and half-matte effect on the edge of the case.While some may not be bothered by this, we would not use a case in this condition unless Seidio replaced it with a rubber underpart that remained matte-likewith use. We did not request a replacement underpart for this review.

Final thoughts, we originally thought we would like the Active-style case the best (of all the Seidio iPhone 4 case designs) but it turned out to be our least favorite of the three. If you aren’t bothered by the overly grippy nature of the underpart, if you have smaller fingers, and if you don’t mind pushing a little harder to sleep or wake your iPhone, then you might really like this case. One thing is for certain, this case offers exceptional camera/flash performance, wonderful excellent protection for your phone and will likely prevent any scratches or damage from your phone, even if it sustained a drop from five or six feet (based on our best guess…not from a scientific drop test).

You can buy the Seidio Innocase Active for iPhone 4 here for $29.95 (optional belt clip for $29.95 also available)

iPhone911 Rating: 3 out of 5

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I’ll just get to the point folks…Seidio’s Rugged Holster Combo is a total winner.  From the minute I opened the packaging, I was impressed and I continue to be impressed one month later.  The kit included:

  • Innocase Surface Case (slider-style, slim fit)
  • Innocase Rugged Case Add-On (two-part:  silicone + plastic frame)
  • Holster (fits the full combo setup)
  • Ultimate Screen Guard
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Instructions sheet

The price?  $49.95 (which is what you’d pay for any competitor’s rugged holster case…but the competitors’ cases don’t convert to a slim fit case, and they don’t include a cleaning cloth).  Just to put this review in context, I have tried and tested many cases from minimalistic to the heavy-duty workhorses.  While all of us would like to have an all-in-one case solution, are you aware of any company that is offering such a product?  If not, there is good news.  Seidio has nailed it, and dominates the competition in every aspect!

Like many of you, I was instantly disappointed with Apple’s Bumper (see previous post) and returned it for a refund.  However, I was unwilling to go more than a couple of weeks without a case on my glass encased iPhone 4.  It wasn’t immediately known that Apple was going to issue a free case to appease the disgruntled masses over the antenna reception issues.  So, I went out a bought a case…then another…then another.  I returned all of them, sorely disappointed with each (see previous post).  Eventually, once the Apple Free Case program launched, I ordered Speck’s Pixelskin HD and hoped that my instincts would lead me to (in the very least) a good backup case should I find it lacking in functionality or quality.  About 8 weeks later it arrived.  The case will be a decent backup, but I’ve not used it once, nor plan to…especially after reviewing the Seidio products.

For the record, there is a segment of the iPhone market (of which I’m a part) that wants a case that resists fingerprints, scratches, and resists sliding down every inclined surface upon which it rests (i.e. the arm of a chair, a car seat, or on my thigh while wearing pants).  We want a camera and flash cutout that prevents the dreaded flash flare problem that plagues so many cases.  Therefore GLOSSY cases aren’t an option.

Next we want our “everyday case” to resist lint, dirt, and dust and allow easy pocket insertion and removal.  Therefore, all NON-HOLSTERED SILICONE cases are out of the question.

Next, we’d really like it if the case protects our iPhone’s glass finish, feels good in the hand, and allows easy access to all buttons and ports.  Finally, we’d like to have a case setup that offers us the flexibility to be thin and minimal when pocketing our case, but can convert to a rugged case when attached to a belt for outdoor work and/or recreation.  Oh, and a free screen protector would be appreciated.

Therefore, for those of us looking for a case that meets all of those needs, we’d need to find a really special case…and seemingly one that can’t be found on retail store shelves (because I’ve scoured many-a-store leaving with nothing but disappointment).

After countless hours of research, purchases, returns, and frustration, I could hardly believe what I finally found at seidio.com.  Finally a line of cases that is scalable, offering interchangeable parts, and lots of options.  Excellent!  Now, all that was left was acquiring the cases and extensively testing them in the course of daily life.  For my needs, I began with the Innocase Rugged Holster Combo.

For a pocketed phone scenario, all I need is the slider-style Surface case portion of the kit (or combo as they call it).  It is THE best slider style soft-matte case that I’ve found to date.  Here’s why:

INNOCASE ‘SURFACE’ CASE

  1. Unlike the next best case in this class (the Incipio Slider), the Innocase Surface has an invisible locking mechanism that keeps the two parts together.  This is really nifty.  It also sort of “child-proofs” the case against curious little fingers.
  2. Unlike the Incipio Slider (which only has a small strip of soft fabric along the inside back of the case), the Innocase Surface features soft fabric that covers the entire back of the case, offering superior protection for the back glass.
  3. Unlike the iFrog slider (which has an unattractive button release locking mechanism on the back…preventing a nice lay-flat property on a table), the Innocase Surface lays flat on every side of the case.
  4. Unlike any other case manufacturer, Seidio has created the ideal solution to prevent the dreaded flash flare interference problem…a divided window.  That’s right, one opening for the camera and, on the other side of a small plastic divider, an opening for the flash.  This brilliant design element isolates the two and insures perfect flash performance.
  5. It comes with a screen shield (called the Ultimate Screen Guard).  For the most part, this is a great screen guard, but it doesn’t come with an adhesive lint removal panel (like other screen protectors), so you have to be really thorough in cleaning the front of the iPhone before applying the guard.  I was 98% successful, with one tiny lint/air bubble near the edge that is hardly noticeable but is present.  This case is definitely designed to be used with a screen shield or with Zagg’s full-body shield.  The naked iPhone (without any guard/shield) will fit a bit loosely in the case.
  6. The soft-touch matte finish feels great in the hand (very similar to the finish on other soft-touch cases).
  7. Unlike several other cases that I tried out, the dock/sync/charge port cutout is large enough to work with every charger and dock cradle I own.
  8. The back of the case has a simple yet attractive design pattern that makes it more interesting than other plain back cases.
  9. This case fits perfectly in the leather belt pouch I own and used with other slim iphone cases.
  10. Conveniently, Seidio also makes an nice adjustable belt holster ($29.95, and not included in the Rugged Holster Combo) which I later added, giving me another great wearing option.  The Surface case holster is the best holster case I’ve seen to date.  It is easy for one finger to release the clip   and for your other fingers to remove the phone.  The phone returns just as easily and firmly clicks into place once full returned to the case.  The holster features a full adjustable, 7-position ratcheting belt clip.  This holster is a lighter duty model than the Rugged’s holster, but it allows for easy use with any waistband and most  2″ belts.  Finally, the interior face of the holster is completely covered in the same soft material that is on the inside of the Surface case.  The iPhone is intended to be stored with the screen facing into this material.
  11. After a month’s worth of use, there is virtually no lint or dirt inside the Surface case, which is exceptional (especially after having tried out many other “comparable” cases).

Now, here is where things get really exciting…converting the Innocase Surface to the Rugged Case.

RUGGED CASE & HOLSTER

  1. Unlike the insanely complicated design of the Otterbox Defender iPhone 4 case, and the uncomfortable and chunky feel of the Ballistic HC case, the Seidio Rugged case is by far the most attractive and easy to assemble.  In fact, it fits right over the top of the Surface case.  With a simple adding of the Silicone Overlay, then a quick clicking in of the hard plastic back/corner overlay, the 15 second transformation makes this THE most attractive, comfortable, and versatile Rugged case on the market…bar none!  The leading competitor (Otterbox’s Defender) doesn’t even hold a candle to this case.    Here is what makes the Rugged Case, and its accompanying holster, far superior to the Defender (I’m not even going to take the time to contrast it with the inferior Ballistic HC):
  2. Unlike the cumbersome headphone and dock connector cover flaps of the Defender, the Seidio Rugged covers easily pull back and, when not in use, quickly return to lie flush with the rest of the case.
  3. Unlike the Defender, the Seidio Rugged has a camera and flash cover that easily pulls back and stores out of the way while the camera/flash are in use.  Like the ingenious divided camera/flash opening of the Surface, the Rugged’s camera/flash cover solution is flawlessly conceived.
  4. Unlike the awkward location of the Defender’s holster release clip (which makes for less than easy one-hand removal), the Seidio Rugged is not only easier, but it also features a locking mechanism (if you so choose to engage it), thus preventing an accidental release of the phone if the release clip should be hit or catch on something.  Again, brilliant.
  5. The dock connector cover is large enough to allow it to take all of my charging/sync cables
  6. Unlike the Defender (which has an entirely silicone exterior), if I have to pocket the Rugged case, the hard plastic skeleton overlay makes it much easier to insert and remove from a pocket.
  7. Since the Surface case (which is layer #1 of the Rugged setup) is meant to be used with the Ultimate Screen Guard, you won’t need to experience the unfortunate mishap that plagues the Defender’s integrated screen shield (which will very easily detach from the case body, leaving you with a precision glue job or no screen protector at all.  You’ll also enjoy a much better screen shield experience since Seidio’s Screen Guard adheres to the face of the screen and avoids the oil-slick effect known among Defender users.
  8. The holster features a fully adjustable, 7-position ratcheting belt clip.
  9. The Rugged’s holster is more robust than the Surface case holster and features a larger belt clip which would work well with a construction/electrical work belt or a law enforcement officer’s duty belt.  Finally, the interior face of the holster is completely covered in the same soft material that is on the inside of the Surface case.  The iPhone is intended to be stored with the screen facing in, as with the Surface case holster.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The craftsmanship and quality is superb on all of the included components of this kit.  The packaging was superb, clean, and won points with me for including the screen guard, guard installation squeegee (which doubles as an the guard’s installation instruction card), and the microfiber cleaning cloth.

As of the writing of this review, the Innocase Surface case is my favorite case to pocket, use in a leather belt pouch (not included; I owned one prior), or in the Seidio Surface Case Holster (not included in the Rugged Holster Combo; I got one later).  It feels great in the hand, keeps the two parts of the slider locked (invisibly), and the back design makes it the most stylish looking case of it’s type.  The Surface case (if purchased separately) is very competitively priced in the market, but an even better bargain as an included component of the Innocase Rugged Combo Holster setup.

As to the Rugged setup, there is no other Rugged case that I would want to use.  Being that the Rugged case incorporates a silicone layer (as do all Rugged case designs), it will attract the normal dust and dirt.  However, this will not translate into lint and dust on the phone since the Surface case underneath it is always protecting the phone.  The hard plastic back/corner overlay reduces the exposed silicone surface area, reducing the amount of cleaning you’ll need to do.  If or when you want to clean the silicone layer, it will only take a few seconds to remove the back/corner overlay, then another couple of seconds to slip the silicone layer off of the Surface case.  Once cleaned, the reassembly only takes 10-15 seconds.  The design and style of the complete Rugged Combo is easily the most attractive Rugged case on the market.  Finally, why would anyone spend $49.99 on one of the other inferior rugged cases on the market?  Not only is Seidio’s Rugged Holster case a better value by itself, you also get the best slider case available (the Innocase Surface) as a bonus!

Well there you have it.  I’m totally sold on these two models of iphone 4 cases.  If you relate to me (just one guy in “that market segment” that really appreciates quality, flexibility, and expandability), then you cannot go wrong with the Innocase Rugged Holster Combo.  This product deserves to be recognized as “Best in Class”, both as individual components and as a complete case solution.

iPhone 911 Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

To purchase the Seidio Innocase Rugged Holster Combo for the iPhone 4, click here

B O N U S  !!

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, (and forgive me if this was an intentionally designed and documented feature) I found a way to use the Rugged Holster Combo to as a perfect night stand clock/alarm (using an app like Night Stand HD) and charging station.  Here’s how:

Option #1 – With the Rugged Case & Holster

  1. Insert the iPhone into the holster, facing it OUT, with the dock port located on the non-clip end
  2. Turn the belt clip to the vertical position (parallel to the holster)
  3. Plug your charging cable into the phone
  4. Use an clock/alarm app that works in landscape mode
  5. If your app allows, tell it disable the phone’s auto-lock feature during the night
  6. Choose your favorite clock and alarm settings
  7. Now, lay the phone/case/holster down on your night stand, making sure that the belt clip is in the vertical belt position, and it will put the phone/clock at a perfect viewing angle
  8. Once the alarm goes off (or if you’re woken by a call or text), the accessible screen and/or button controls can be used to serve as a snooze, or even to answer the phone.

Option #2 – With the Surface case and Rugged holster

  1. Follow all of the steps above
  2. While the Surface case will sit loosely in the Rugged holster, it still works

Option #3 – With the Surface case alone, no holster

  1. Start with step 3 in scenario #1
  2. Because the Surface case has a flat edge, stand up the phone/clock on the non-volume rocker side of the Surface case (keeping the volume controls available in case you want to use the snooze feature
SEIDIO’S MID-SIZE CASE SOLUTION – Innocase Active Review now complete