The SwitchEasy CapsuleRebel ($30) is a two-part hard-shell case for the iPhone 4 that has a distinctive (some may say weird) textured pattern on its back. The case, which is available in black, white, or red, offers decent protection for the iPhone, but its expensive price tag along with cheap plastic materials left us a tad underwhelmed.
The first thing you’ll notice about the CapsuleRebel are the strange ridges on its back. One of my friends commented that the case looks like something from the movie Aliens. According to SwitchEasy, this oddly etched back offers improved grip while still allowing you to slip it in and out of pockets. Sorry folks, but not buying it. We did find, however, that the ridge running down the center spine is absolutely immense, adding substantial girth to the iPhone.
While the CapsuleRebel comes in two sections, assembly is anything but easy. Most cases that are two parters like this have soft inner shell made of silicone, and then a hard plastic outer. But the CapsuleRebel seems to have gone the cheap route, as both layers are plastic, just of varying degrees of hardness, creating an inner layer which is still hard, slick, and rather unpleasant.
The case is ludicrously tight around the iPhone. It’s hard to get on, and nigh on impossible to take off. At one point while trying to strip it for this review, I almost broke the inner layer wrestling it off my phone. I get that you need a snug fit, but this is much, much too tight. Separating the inner and outer layer is also a chore, after having to do it a couple of times, the inner case got nicked in the process, and now it has a couple of burrs on it.
The controls are generally pretty easy to hit, with the exception of the volume buttons. Headphone, dock, camera, and mute switches are all completely exposed, with the lock and volume rockers covered — and this latter point is a problem. The plastic is too thick over these controls, and it feels unresponsive while attempting to adjust the volume. We didn’t have any trouble with the camera flash with this case, always a good thing.
The CapsuleRebel doesn’t add too much bulk to the phone, except along the back, where the huge ridge is a major issue. That said, the protection level here is pretty good, with the hard plastic outer layer covering all the crucial vulnerable bits. I even have the sneaking suspicion that the ridge on the back probably would absorb shock pretty well.
One very cool thing we do have to give SwitchEasy, is that they’ve thrown in a ton of freebies with the case, which gets them some brownie points. Here’s the official list of what they include:
- Two anti-static Screen Guards
- One Microfiber Wipe
- Two Universal Dock Adapters (Pearl White and Piano Black)
- One Video Dock Stand
- Two Power Jack Connector Protectors
- Two 3.5mm Headphone Jack Protectors
The protectors are an interesting inclusion, and if you don’t use those ports, it’s a good way of keeping them safe and clean — but it is one more thing to lose.
The SwitchEasy CapsuleRebel ($30) is distinctive, vaguely competent, and has a good array of freebies included. Unfortunately, that’s just about all it has going for it. I won’t render judgement too heavily on the looks, except to say it doesn’t do it for me. The case is too hard to get on, the ridge adds unnecessary bulk, and it’s too expensive for what it is. If you’re in love with the way it looks, might like it, but otherwise spend your $30 elsewhere. We think the CapsuleRebel is average, and we give it a 6.2/10