Review #47: Walnutt Flexible Bumper Case (iPhone) ★★★☆☆



A bump in the road!
A bumper case is a sweet compromise between using the phone as manufactured and sheathing it in a figurative armour. The RhinoShield CrashGuard has done well in this space and while price is a genuine concern when purchasing it in India, it also has its fair share of issues with its width, buttons and removal. Far cry from that is the 'Walnutt' bumper case. Going by the different brands and prices this case is sold under, it seems to be a generic case, rather than one from a specific company.

Review #37: Onyx iPhone 7 Transparent Case

My tryst for the perfect iPhone 7 case has now passed the half a dozen mark and yet it continues to elude me. For a moment, I felt that this case might just do the job but ultimately it wasn't good enough to even stand up against my first case - Spigen Ultra Hybrid, which to be fair is a lot more expensive. As a divergence from my usually elaborate review, I will just list the Pros and Cons here.

Pros:

1. The design is along the lines of most protective cases, so the raised lips at the front and the lens cutout at the back seem fit for the purpose of protecting the screen and the lens when placed on flat surfaces.

2. The case is translucent enough to not completely obscure the form of the phone or the Apple logo at the back. It also lends well to hiding discolouration.

3. The "jelliness" feels good enough to absorb shocks but isn't personally field tested.

Cons:

1. If first impressions last, then the packaging certainly doesn't put its best foot forward. In fact, it is identical to what is sold along the roadside which leads me to conclude that the case is grossly overpriced for its quality since most silicone cases sell for around the 100-150 mark.

2. There is a reason that most renowned cases use TPU which is a far sturdier material. This one is made completely out of silicone. Silicone tends to be extremely sticky which makes it impractical to use with sweaty hands in the Indian summer heat. It also makes the insertion and removal of the case from the pocket a tad difficult. However, the worst experience I had within the first 24 hours was the tendency of the sticky silicone to pick up lint which blocked all the openings at the bottom. This is likely to be an issue since the iPhone has the popular problem of its lightning port getting clogged with lint which in turn results in the device not charging till the lint is scrapped off.

3. Although I used it only for a day before returning the product, it did pick up a lot of minute scratches. Also, silicone being porous, the case is bound to have a higher degree of discolouration in the future. So I don't think the looks will last long.

4. A minor irritant was the roughness along the edges of the cutout for the lightning port which would scrape against my little finger when gripping the phone firmly with one hand.

To conclude, the case certainly looks the part initially but isn't a good option for the long run. I would recommend a TPU case anytime in spite of its higher cost due to more robust protection and lack of stickiness in the Indian heat.



Review #36: Egotude iPhone 7 Case

A case of reality not matching to expectations

The renders of the product, complete with poor Chinese translation is a common feature across all manufacturers selling cases with this design and I must admit that it makes the product look much better than it really is. I had resisted purchasing a case with this design on AliExpress a little after the launch of the iPhone 7 since I was unsure of its quality, even though it was priced at half of what it is being sold for on Amazon India. The ‘Egotude’ branding and mention of ‘Swachh Bharat’ on the package does nothing to hide the true origin of the product which is essentially a “case” of wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Amazon’s one-day Prime shipping and easy returns meant that I could finally judge the case for what it is rather than what it appears to be. Unfortunately, the product left me disappointed on several fronts which I shall list below:

1. The fitting of the case is far too loose to provide any real protection or even to keep out dirt. As you can see in the attached image, it comes off at the side if you simply slide your fingers along the front surface. The top as well as the bottom of the case squeaks when you press upon it, affirming the fact that the case is not fit for the purpose.

2. The moulding of the rubber part of the case is quite inconsistent. If you run your fingers around it, you can easily feel the jaggedness along the surface.

3. The cut-outs are very poorly done. The attached image indicates how misaligned the cut-out for the mute switch is. Similarly, the cut-out for the lens wasn’t a precise circle, featuring serration on one side. It is as if the machine failed to punch out a complete circle in the rubber casing, following which someone manually pulled it out manually.


4. Quite inexplicably, the transparent back of the case features a hole at its bottom right which you may be able to make out in the attached image. It is not as if there is a noise cancellation microphone present at that location, so it doesn’t make any sense, unless it is a manufacturing defect.

5. Even if everything else was perfect, the back is most likely a thin plastic sheet and definitely doesn’t possess the flexibility of TPU. It also happens to be a huge fingerprint magnet since it lacks protective coating of any sort. In my case, to make matters worse, I had something stuck between the rubber lining and the back which simply couldn’t be scraped away.

I will admit that the case gives a glimpse of how attractive it could have been, had it been as good as the renders. However, poor production quality and seemingly non-existent quality control makes it a really bad proposition. It is to be expected at this price point and I have experienced worse with “premium” products. Ultimately, it is a case of what pleases the eyes of the beholder. It is quite possible that you may be able to look past the imperfections of the case in favour of its overall looks. But for me, this case was a return on first sight.

Click here to check the product on Amazon India

P.S.: You have my apologies for the terrible image quality of the attached images, always an issue when the iPhone is the one being pictured instead of taking the picture.

Musing #23: Elegantly protecting the iPhone 7 (Cafele Thin case and G. D. Smith Tempered Glass)


Lately, a lot of references to the iPhone have been creeping in to my posts. I guess that is bound to happen when it's your first iPhone, lending itself to some experimentation. It undeniably costs a small fortune, especially in India and hence the need to protect it as an insurance against paying the immense Apple tax when it comes down to repairs. It is true that the IP67 protection of the iPhone 7 helps against environmental factors but it can do nothing to compensate for human stupidity and clumsiness.

I have already reviewed my first choice of "protectors", the ones I had purchased along with the phone. I have already documented my disappointment with the Nilkin 2.5D tempered glass protector, though the Spigen case was more up to the task. However, the case's protection comes at a cost, namely, it makes the phone a bit unwieldy to use with one hand. It also causes obstruction when typing characters on the edge of the keyboard and as I had already predicted in my review, it has already started yellowing at the edges.

This made me revisit the idea of how the phone ought to be protected. After a little bit of deliberation, I decided to look out for a minimal case that would provide grip and scratch protection. To account for screen-shattering human clumsiness, I decided to go for a full screen tempered glass protector. Even with this in mind, it is not easy to make a choice due to the plethora of options available for the iPhone. Instead of going with over-priced products that are re-sold in the local market, I purchased directly from AliExpress. My choice included the following:

1. Cafele Thin Case: My idea was to go with something like the Spigen Air case but it would be an understatement to mention that it is over-priced. The closest thing I could find on AliExpress is this case. Surprisingly, I received the product fairly quickly (within a fortnight) by AliExpress standards. The quality of the product too is quite good. In fact, I would go on to say that it has a better fit and design than the Spigen Air case being used by my brother on the iPhone 6. Initially, I didn't like the rough matte feel of this case compared to the rubbery feel on the Spigen Air case, but it has been slowly growing on me. One thing to note is that the case isn't as transparent/translucent as the pictures on the website would depict (I picked grey) and the Apple logo is barely visible.

2. G. D. Smith 3D tempered glass: Rather than browse around like I did for the case, I searched for this by name. To be more accurate, I searched by the name "Godosmith" since that was the one I had purchased a couple of years previously for my OnePlus One. Back then, it was more of a necessity since there were no tempered glasses available locally for the OPO. Having been satisfied by its performance (shattering at the edges after a couple of chair and floor hits but keeping the screen intact), I decided to go with it once again. The full screen protector was significantly easier to apply as I only needed to line it up with the home button and then lay it down. Getting rid of the air bubbles took a bit more time and effort since you have to do so using a thin gap present between the tempered glass and the ABS covering at the sides. However, after a few days things have settled down just fine though I will admit that the tempered glass isn't as smooth as the iPhone's glass surface and is more of a fingerprint magnet.

With this duo, my objective is complete. The iPhone now definitely looks like an iPhone and is a joy to use with a single hand while offering protection against most human calamities. I can't imagine going back to "rugged" cases, but if you have a personal preference, then do share so in the comments.

Review #21: Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case for iPhone 7 Crystal Clear

Spigen has made a name for itself by the quality of its cases and this one is another exceptional Korean product. When I purchased the new Black variant of the iPhone 7, one of my priorities was to ensure its protection without ruining the looks. The Ultra Hybrid case fit the bill perfectly, though I must admit that it hurt a bit to have to pay Rs. 1099 for a case that sells for less than $11.

The case comes covered in thin film on both sides which you have to peel off. This ensures that there are no scratches on the case itself out of the box. However, the film was not attached to a tab which meant I had to put my fingernails to use in order to find a point from where I could begin peeling off the film. Also, instructions on the web state that the case should be left to aerate for about 5 minutes before application to avoid air bubbles and I paid heed to that advice without any issues.

The case itself ticks off all the right boxes by having an impeccable fit. It is reassuring to hear the phone snap in to the case at every corner. The cut-outs align perfectly with the port, grills, slider and the camera lens. The raised lip around the edges as well as the lens ensures that no part of the phone sits flush with the surface thereby reducing the chances of scratches.

The primary reasons, however, to purchase a case, especially for the iPhone are grip and fall protection. This case offers plenty of the former and is easy to use with a single hand. As for the latter, I don't intend to test the 'Air Cushion Technology' intentionally but I trust it to offer some sort of shock absorption in case of a drop.

While the case certainly looks crystal clear right now, I have no clue about the long term prospects. It already has few micro scratches after a week of usage though it is only visible under close scrutiny. It is also a minor fingerprint magnet though that doesn't matter at all since you can swipe it off easily. What's really unknown is whether the case will end up yellowing after some time which is the bane of most clear cases. I sure hope not.

To sum it up, if you are on the lookup for a clear case for the iPhone 7, then this should be your default option.