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Buying guide: iPhone 4 and 4S cases

Macworld staff | Dec. 19, 2011
Here's a quick guide to shopping for iPhone protection, along with a rundown of the most common types of cases and some examples of each type.

Skins: One of the most popular types of cases, skins enclose your iPhone in a layer of silicone rubber or a similar flexible material. Thinner skins prevent scratches without adding much bulk, whereas thicker skins provide extra shock protection. Both give your device some grip; the downside of a skin, however, is that because of that grip, getting your device out of your pocket can be a minor hassle. Many skin cases are easy to remove, which is convenient if you want to use your iPhone with accessories that work only on a naked iPhone. Recommendations:

Bumpers: With the iPhone 4, Apple popularized its Bumper case, which is basically a protective band that wraps around the edge of the phone. Although a bumper-style case doesn't offer the same protection as a standard case--especially for the phone's glass back--it does protect against many drops while leaving your iPhone's beauty undisguised. Recommendations:

Flip cases and wallets: Flip cases offer complete protection, thanks to a screen cover that flips open for access. Although these cases tend to be a bit bulkier than most, they offer a good compromise between protection and convenience. Some also include a pocket for cash, credit cards, or an ID, and a few even convert into a stand for watching videos or photo slideshows. Recommendations:

Armbands: If you listen to music on your iPhone while working out, you'll want a case that offers shock resistance, some amount of moisture protection, and convenient carrying options. You'll find such cases in the other categories here, but many people prefer exercise armbands, which strap onto your upper arm to keep your iPhone safe but accessible. Recommendations:

Screen protection and body films: Many iPhone cases include a clear, flexible, adhesive film that protects the phone's glass screen from scratches, but if you prefer to carry your iPhone au naturel--or if you want a higher-quality film--you can purchase a screen protector separately. The best are basically invisible and don't affect the iPhone's touch-screen sensitivity; some offer an anti-glare finish, and some are also available in full-body versions that protect the entire iPhone from scratches without adding bulk or obscuring its stylish appearance. Recommendations:


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