Gear vs Gear- Incipio Pearl Metal feather and the Incase Clear Snap Case for iPhone 4

Let me start off by saying, I usually love to carry my iPhone naked. (well always with a skin/screen protector on it…old habit from the stylus driven Windows Mobile and Pocket PC days). To me, one of the main reasons for getting the iPhone (any version) is that it is light, small, compact, awesome looking and feels great in the hand. Why would I want to hide all of Apple’s hard design work behind a case?

Well I work outside quite a bit, and I get dirty … so sometimes I like to keep my phone protected. So to keep it safe on hard workdays, I had purchased several cases for my iPhone 3G.  But I never wanted a case that weighed too much or distracted from the look and feel of the iPhone.  I loved my thinness and form-fit of my JavoEdge Tattoo (the butterfly pattern on the back was not quite my style, but the thin form factor was ideal) and my Speck Candy Shell (the Tattoo case is not made anymore, but the Rubberized Case is similar to it). The Speck offered more protection, and the smooth ‘candy’ shell made it still feel like an iPhone, only a slightly bigger and heavier. The Mophie Juice Pack I won from Gear Diary last winter is an excellent battery backup tool, but it really adds some heft to the phone, almost too much.

Enough about the iPhone 3G… let’s talk about the my favorite, new iPhone.  The iPhone 4 is a beautiful phone, and with a flat back that I was hoping would allow my Bodyguardz or InvisibleShield to stay on better. I always had a hard time keeping skins stuck to the rounded, curved back of my iPhone 3G.  Allow me to go off on a small tangent here….I’ve been having trouble keeping my skins on my iPhone 4.  Either, I got a bad batch of skins, or the oleophobic coating is preventing perfect adhesion, or the extreme heat we have been experiencing in the Midwest this summer has been melting my skins off my iPhone in my pocket. After a week or so, the corners have started to get loose and peel back.  Let me know if any of you are having any problems with your iPhone 4 skins.

Since I work outside from time to time, I felt it was necessary to get an iPhone 4 case, to give some extra protection on the back of my iPhone, and hopefully alleviate some antenna-gate issues. I frequently travel in some sub-par AT&T coverage areas, and for me the iPhone 4 has even worse reception than my old iPhone 3G which was already considerably worse than my old Verizon phones. More on the reception issues below.

I tried an Apple Bumper Case and the Boxwave Crystal Slip Smoke Grey case. I can’t recommend either of these cases, because both of them have a design that wraps up over the top edge of the screen.  I returned the bumper case and I’ve cut-up the Boxwave case, so I don’t have any pictures of them here for you.  Some reviewers have classified the wrap-around-coverage on top of the screen as a good feature…adding extra protection to screen if the iPhone is dropped. And I agree more case, covering more of the phone can offer more protection. But for me, with a screen protector on my iPhone, this style of case causes the screen protector to buckle and pucker on the edges.  I’ve even tried to use a razor blade to remove the top edge of the Boxwave case to keep it from touching the front of the screen. Cutting this lip off prevented the screen protector from puckering, but it made the case flimsy and ill-fitting.

So I went looking for an iPhone 4 case that would prevent screen protector puckering, that would not add a lot of bulk to the iPhone, and would feel like it is designed by Apple for the iPhone. I like the way my iPhone feels and looks when it is naked, and I didn’t want to change that too much.

My two latest cases are the Incipio Pearl Metallic Black Ultra Light feather® Slim Form Fitted Case for iPhone 4 (pictured above) and the Incase Clear Snap Case for iPhone 4 (pictured below).

I ordered the Incase via the Apple free case program and bought the Incipio direct from Incipio for $24.99

Let me just get to the point. Both of these cases are exactly what I wanted, thin, light, smooth, and no screen protector puckering. You can see in the pictures below that they don’t wrap around the screen or cause any screen protector puckering. I like them both, but my favorite of the two is the Incipio feather Slim case.

Let me explain why.

Like it was made by Apple


I love the way the Incipio case looks and feels. I’ve showed the Incipio case to several of my friends family, and each time I’ve described it as… “It feels like it is part of the iPhone. It feels like how the iPhone 4 should have felt all along.”


The iPhone 4 is a classy looking device, but I kinda liked the feel of the 3G/3GS better in my hand. I liked the feel of the curved edges in my hand. The iPhone 4 is a little sharp. Not dangerous sharp, nor do I have girly hands, but it is just not as smooth to hold.  And the both cases cover up some of this ‘sharpness.’ But the Incipio Feather case fits and feels like there is no case on my iPhone at all. It feels like the back of the naked iPhone, smooth, kinda slick, but not slippery.

You can see the dust behind this case.

The Incase feels like a plastic case. And you can tell this when you put them on and take them off. The Incipio case has just the slightest ability to bend…it is slightly flexible. Whereas the Incase Snap case seems like it is made of a hard acrylic plastic and it does not bend and feels like it could shatter if it was dropped.


I ordered the Clear Snap case because I thought I’d like the clear case to show off my iPhone 4, but the problem is even though it is a tight-fitting case, some dust and dirt gets behind it, and seeing that dust behind the glass looks annoying and distracting. (See the picture above.)  (Some dust does get behind the Incipio Feather case, but it is black and you can’t see it while it is one.) I haven’t had either of these cases for more than a few weeks, so I can’t be 100% certain, but it appears like they both fit tight enough that sand and larger dirt particles will not get stuck between the phone and the case and cause any scratching. They fit tight. I had a skin on the metal banding around the edges of my iPhone. During the installation and removal of these cases, the skin on two of the 4 corners had to come off. No big deal….I don’t need that skin on the edges too much, now that I have a case.


It is hard to say if either of these cases have improved the performance of my reception. Like I said above, I frequently travel in some low AT&T coverage areas.  When people ask me about my iPhone and AT&T I always talk about reception this way. ‘My Treo 700wx had great coverage with Verizon…very few dead areas and very few dropped calls. The 3G on AT&T was great in strong signal areas and lousy in low signal areas.  Some no service and some dropped calls.  For me, the iPhone 4 is fantastic in the metro, but worse than the 3G out in the sticks, more no service areas and more dropped calls.  Not many more, but more.’  Antennae experts argue whether adding a case should improve the iPhone 4 reception or not.  But, part of me feels like both of these cases have helped with my reception issues, but if that is reality or a placebo effect, I can’t tell you.  I ‘feel’ like my iPhone works better.

I could go into more details talking about the designs of both cases, but I think the pictures and their respective websites can explain the design features. My overall opinion is that both are good for my criteria, but I prefer the Incipio Pearl Metallic Black Ultra Light feather® Slim Form Fitted Case for iPhone 4 over the Incase Clear Snap Case for iPhone 4, because of the feel of the Incipio and dust showing under the Incase.  I so love the appearance and feel of the Incipio Feather case that I had to come out and write this review for Gear Diary.  Gear Diary and their staff have  helped me out over the years, and I wanted to give back.

Oh as an added bonus, the Incipio case came with 2 screen protectors, and applicator, and a screen cleaning cloth. I haven’t tried the included screen protectors. The included screen protectors are of the harder plastic kind rather than the film/skin kind I’m used to using…so I might give it a try if the heat melts off my front skin again.

Included in the box with the Incase Snap case is a reversible iPhone stand.

Where To Buy: You can get the Incase Clear Snap Case for iPhone 4 from their website and the Incipio Pearl Metallic Black Ultra Light feather® Slim Form Fitted Case for iPhone 4 from


Incase Clear Snap Case for iPhone 4  is $34.95

Incipio Pearl Metallic Black Ultra Light feather® Slim Form Fitted Case for iPhone 4 is $24.99

What I like: Both cases completely cover the back of the phone and do not wrap around over the top of the screen causing any screen protector buckling or puckering; Both cases cover the metal banding, hopefully reducing antennae issues; Both cases are slim and don’t add a lot of bulk and weight to the iPhone; The Incipio Feather case feels and looks like it belongs on the iPhone. I really like it.

What needs improvement: I don’t like the dust that can be seen behind the clear Incase Snap Case. They offer a smoke version, which may hide the dust better. The material of the Incase Snap Case also feels inexpensive and feels like it would shatter if dropped. I can’t find any faults in the Incipio case yet.


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