The CaseMate Pop! for iPhone 4 ($20) is part of a growing pantheon of “dual-layer” iPhone cases that combine two different materials—almost always plastic and rubber—to mine the best qualities of each. With some attention to detail, the combination usually succeeds, as it does with the Pop! The first layer of the Pop! case is a soft rubber lining. This layer not only protects the back of the iPhone from being scratched by the case itself but also takes on shock absorption duties. The second layer is a hard-plastic frame that makes up the majority of the case. The glossy hard plastic adds rigidity and strength while keeping the case lightweight. Also covered in rubber are the left and right sides of the case. The rubber here is textured, adding grip and a comfortable feel. The rim around the iPhone’s screen is rubber as well, sticking out a millimeter above the screen and preventing the glass from touching surfaces while laying flat.
The Pop! is a snap-on case, meaning you push the iPhone into the flexible casing until it clicks into place. The case is quite difficult to take on and off the iPhone, but the upside here is that there is little worry the case will accidentally slip off when handled or dropped. But it is enough to handle everyday drops.
In terms of protection, we’d say the Pop! is much better than average. There is some shock absorption, and it provides good coverage for the iPhone’s surfaces. But the case is still on the thin side, and in terms of shock absorption, it isn’t in the same category as bulkier cases like the Otterbox Defender or Impact.
The case has a glossy plastic backing that, while looking nice, is easily scratched. The good news is that the scratches aren’t highly visible—you have to look close to notice them. Still, it’s a drawback of the case, as extended use may cause the case to take on a worn look (we only tested the case for a week). Another drawback is the glossy surface takes on finger grease and sweat when held.
The soft rubber sides on the case have a grip-friendly texture and will greatly improve your hold on the iPhone. The rubber offers a comfortable, non-slippery feel—something much appreciated with the iPhone’s all-glass construction.
The Pop! has a minor design flaw in that it makes the iPhone’s ringer mute switch difficult to access. The case has a narrow opening for the switch that my finger couldn’t access. I had to dig in with my fingernail to operate it. Not impossible, but annoyingly difficult. The iPhone’s other buttons, fortunately, are much easier to access. The case utilizies simulated rubber buttons to cover the iPhone’s sleep and volume buttons, providing easy access and working as expected when pressed. Accessibility to iPhone’s docking and headphone ports are fine as well.
Versions of the Pop! are available for the CDMA (Verizon) and GSM (AT&T) iPhone 4. The case comes in 6 different colors, and includes two clear-screen protections as well as small cleaning cloth.
The Case-Mate Pop! ($20) for iPhone 4 utilizes the best of both worlds for its silicone rubber and hard plastic materials. It is slim and lightweight while also offering solid protection and good grip. The flaws of the Pop! are few and minor: the ringer switch is difficult to access and the glossy back takes on small scratches and collects fingerprints. Overall, the Case-Mate Pop! is one of the better cases available for the iPhone 4 (there are separate versions for the Verizon and AT&T iPhone). We assign it a rating of 8.8 out of 10, highly recommended.