My iPhone 4S has mostly lived in a Speck Fitted case since it was purchased. While I like it, I am always on the lookout for other options. Ideally, I wanted something that would offer some protection and grip, but still showcase the industrial style of the 4S. While bopping around Amazon one day, I came across a listing for a clear bumper with a silicon trim by a company called Chivel. It was only $2.99, so it seemed like the perfect way to try out a more minimal bumper style case. Is this an amazing price for a great case or a “you get what you paid for” case? Read on to find out!
The Chivel bumper feels cheap when it’s not on an iPhone. The plastic is a bit bend-y, and the silicon edging has some messy parts where you can see it’s not perfectly cut and glued to the plastic. The cutouts are all there though; a headphone jack, hole for the mike next to the jack, buttons over the volume keys and power button, and of course holes for the mute switch, dock connector and speakers. Also, there’s a silver “CHIVEL” logo along the lower right side, which is a bit flashy on an otherwise simple case.
However, once you put on the phone it feels and looks significantly better. The silicon edging gives a bit of grip to the phone, and the clear sides show off the iPhone design. It takes up so little space that the iPhone feels much smaller than it has on any other case I’ve tested. If you look closely you can see the messy silicon areas, but frankly, unless someone is getting up close and personal with your iPhone they’re not likely to notice it. The cutout for the mute switch is deep enough that you don’t accidentally hit it, but it’s not too deep to get to easily. Plus the silicon edges form a seal keeping dirt and grit from getting caught between the bumper and the phone, and they offer a bit of a buffer between the front/back of the phone and surfaces. I have two minor issues with the fit of the case. One is that the dock connector cutout is big enough for an Apple charger, but does not accommodate larger plugs. The second is that the power button cover is a bit loose. It wiggles around slightly, which drove me nuts for a day or two, but it doesn’t actually impact the usability of the button.
Overall, I do like this case, but it’s mainly because it exceeds the low expectations I had for my $2.99. If I had paid the average price that a “brand name” case sells for I would not be nearly as forgiving of the minor build quality issues and flimsy plastic. As a cheap minimal case, however, this is significantly better than other silicon cases in this price range. If you’re looking for something simple and inexpensive it’s worth a shot for $2.99 on Amazon!
MSRP: $2.99 at Amazon
What I Like: Very minimal case; Clear sides show off the iPhone style; Cheap!
What Needs Improvement: Silicon is smudged onto the plastic in a few spots; Power button cover is loose; Dock cutout doesn’t accommodate larger plugs