XtremeMac and id America iPhone 4S case roundup (review)

Summary:It seems there are an unlimited number of cases for the iPhone and I recently had a chance to try out four with my iPhone 4S. Do you use a case with your iPhone or do you carry it naked?

The iPhone accessory market is overwhelming and you can find hundreds of cases in just about any color or design configuration you like. I used to carry my phones in belt clip cases, but no longer do that and now just throw them in my jeans or coat pocket. Thus, I was interested in trying out cases that did not add much bulk to the iPhone and did not wrap around and cover the display.

As you can see in my image gallery I had the chance to try out the following iPhone 4S cases:

  • id America Gasket
  • id America Skyline
  • XtremeMac Microshield
  • XtremeMac Tuffwrap Shift


Image Gallery: Check out several photos of each of the four XtremeMac and id America cases for the Apple iPhone 4S.
Image Gallery: Gasket case in hand
Image Gallery: Back of the Microshield Bronze case

id America: Gasket

I put my own engine in my first car when I was 16, owned a small boat for several years, and have thus spent a lot of time under the hood of cars and boats so when I saw the Gasket case that looks like a head gasket on an engine I knew I had to try it out. The Gasket is available in Aluminum Silver, Titanium Gray, Modern Bronze, Vintage Gold, Jet Black, and Rally Blue.

You will find the lightweight aluminum Gasket case along with front and rear clear screen protectors inside the box. I installed the clear protector on the back since I already have a BodyGuardz (review coming soon) on the front. The protector was easy to apply with a two step plastic covering and very easy installation. I can hardly tell there is a protector on the back, which is what I want from protectors like these.

The inside of the case is lined with material to protect your iPhone from getting scratched and cut out to match the holes in the back. The metal covers most of both sides of your iPhone with the top and bottom being open for full access to all ports and buttons. The case offers minimal protection and is more about the looks than anything else.

On the back you will see that the inner lining keeps the case metal from touching your iPhone. One rather major issue I have with this case that kept me from using it any longer than just the time I needed to test it out is the sharpness around the inside of all three large openings. The edges will scratch you and if you rub up against it hard enough the edges may even cut you. Also be careful if you place it on a wood table or other surface you don't want scratched.

The other issue I have with this case that I have also confirmed with many other people is the impact on the cellular reception. My iPhone 4S gives me the best reception I have ever seen on a Verizon phone, but I have seen this case result in a reduction of 2-3 (out of 5 total) bars and if you are in a weaker signal area you may see your connection lost when in this case.

The Gasket is very cool looking and well made, but the sharp edges and apparent signal impact keep me from recommending it. You can buy it for $29.95.

id America: Skyline

The Skyline case from id America is a stiffened plastic material that offers good protection for your iPhone. The Skyline is available in Matte White, Matte Black, and Matte Pink. The back has many openings so the color of your iPhone shows through and makes the case a bit lighter.

The right side and top are mostly completely covered with the power button being covered up. There are openings for the 3.5mm headset jack, lock switch, volume buttons, speakers, and bottom Apple port. There is also an opening on the back for the camera.

The case has a lip that wraps around the front just a bit to hold it in place. The Skyline package comes with a front and rear clear plastic protector that I recommend you use for screen protection.

I like that the rigid flex material used for the case is not sticky so it slides easily in an doug of your pocket and doesn't collect lint like a silicone gel case. The Skyline case is available for $24.95 and is a nice case to consider.

Let's check out the two cases from XtremeMac »

XtremeMac: Microshield

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I was trying to find a case with minimal impact on the size of my iPhone 4S and thought the XtremeMac Microshield would be a good candidate. This is a hard plastic case with a metallic finish and the one sent to me is Bronze. You can find this case in Graphite, Pearl, Deep Plum, Bronze, and Slate Blue.

The Bronze color one reminds me of gold and actually looks great on my white iPhone 4S. The case has black plastic inside with the selected color on the outside and edges. It has a smooth finish inside and out so your iPhone slides in and out of your pocket easily. This also means it doesn't grip tables though so don't set it down at an angle. Both sides and the back are well covered with an open top and bottom. The sides have edges that fit over the narrower metal edge around your iPhone 4S and it stays in place very well. There are cutouts for the lock switch, volume buttons, and camera on the back.

The XtremeMac name is embedded down on the bottom left side with some additional labeling inside the back cover. You can pick up the Microshield case for $29.99. This seems a bit much for a thin piece of plastic, but it is attractive and works very well on the iPhone 4S with great protection for the back. There is no screen protection or provided screen protector for the front though.

XtremeMac: Tuffwrap Shift

You may have seen in my various posts that I am a fan of the color orange so when I saw there was an XtremeMac case in orange color I had to test it out. I was sent an XtremeMac Tuffwrap Shift in orange/yellow. The reason you see two colors in the model type is that the case changes color with the heat of your hand or other source, similar to the way you see sunshine effect clothing and accessories from DelSol.

The Tuffwrap Shift is available in Blue/White, Pink/White, Purple/Blue, Grey/White, Green/White and Orange/Yellow. The first color is the case color and the second is the color it turns with heat. I had to hold the case for a while and heat it up over time to see the color change, but it is kind of cool to see this change with heat. It takes quite a bit of heat to make the color change happen and I didn't see it change color that often. Even if it didn't change color, I was pleased with the primary orange color as well.

The case is rather thick rubberized plastic material that is flexible and seems extremely durable. The sides are well protected with openings for the 3.5mm headset jack, lock switch, volume buttons, speakers, and Apple connection port. The power button is covered by a raised button integrated into the case. The edges wrap around the front metal piece to hold it in place. I have a BodyGuardz case on the front and the case actually pushed it up a bit in one corner where it fits just a bit too tight.

The case has a glossy finish and slides easily in and out of your pocket, thankfully all of these cases I looked at have this design feature. The case material does allow it to grip tables a bit though too so when you set it down the weight of the iPhone does a decent job of holding it in place. You can purchase this case for $29.99.

Which one is my personal favorite?

I thought that the Gasket case would be my favorite since it has such a cool design, but it is just too sharp for me and I don't want any case impacting my reception. My favorite of all four of these is the XtremeMac Microshield in Bronze color. It gives me some back and side protection, allows my iPhone to slide easily in and out of my pocket, and looks great with my white iPhone 4S.

Have you tried any of these cases out? If so, I would like to hear about your experiences with them.

Back to the beginning »

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, iPhone, Smartphones

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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