The Griffin Motif for iPhone 4 ($15) is available as one of the cases in Apple’s Free iPhone 4 Case program, but we find it’s not one of the better choices. We didn’t like the semi-transparent TPU material the case is made out of, as it has a sticky feel and poor shock absorption. Even an interesting diamond pattern that shimmers in the light can’t save this below average case.
The Griffin Motif is composed of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a rugged material resistant to tearing, scratches, and dirt. But despite these qualities, it’s one of our least favorite iPhone case materials, mostly due to a sticky vinyl texture that’s unpleasant to hold.
The Motif is a see-through case, but the clear plastic is tinted with a gray murky color that gives it an aged-plastic look we didn’t like. But although we don’t care for its overall appearance, it does have an interesting diamond pattern that has a 3D look to it, where the diamonds reflect light and seem to move as you shift the iPhone’s position.
We liked the secure fit of the case, as it hugs the corners of the iPhone with little worry of it ever accidentally slipping off. The case has a small lip that sticks out and grips the edge of the iPhone’s front screen, securing the case to the phone even more.
The case is thin and lightweight, but this thinness has the side effect of offering poor shock absorption should you accidentally drop it. The case’s material is strong and resistant against scratches, making it good for everyday wear and tear. But again, the semi-rigid TPU material will not absorb impacts, leaving the iPhone 4′s dual glass sides at risk.
The Motif’s stiff TPU plastic also creates a small annoyance concerning the iPhone’s buttons. The case completely covers the iPhone’s buttons with its own areas of raised plastic to simulate the buttons. While the buttons still work accurately when pressed, the stiff plastic requires you to use more pressure and dulls what little tactile feel the iPhone’s buttons offered in the first place. It can be hard to tell that you pushed a button at all.
The upside of TPU is that it is an incredibly durable material. It could be subjected to all sorts of abuse and come out looking spotless over the long run.
In terms of grip, the stickiness of the Motif’s material dramatically improves it, which may be perfect for those with butterfingers. But we think there’s better ways to solve the problem of the iPhone’s slick glass, as the Motif’s sticky texture was unpleasant to hold.
The Griffin Motif case ($15) for iPhone 4 is mostly ruined by a sticky texture that makes it unpleasant to hold. Despite an interesting diamond pattern featuring a shimmering look, the stiff plastic is a poor choice of material for an iPhone case, despite its ruggedness. We rate it a 6.9 out of 10, average.