Buyers of Apple's iPhone 4S -- there seem to have been a few -- may be hitting a problem where existing cases don't fit properly. I set out to investigate why. I sat down with Apple representatives on Friday to cover off a number of issues, amongst them the troubles some folk were having with existing iPhone 4 cases and the iPhone 4S. To be specific, some iPhone 4 cases don't allow enough space around where the iPhone 4S places its mute switch, making it hard, or in some cases impossible to access it.
The reason why, direct from Apple, is refreshingly simple. It's because the iPhone 4S is based off the design for the CDMA iPhone 4, which was sold in the US by Verizon. There hasn't been a CDMA network in Australia since 2008, so nobody bothered importing that model or cases to go with it. Apple's estimation is that "most" cases should work.
I had some ex-review iPhone 4 cases to hand, so I spent some time over the weekend testing exactly how many cases would work, and how many wouldn't. But first, I made a pretty picture, because, hey, you would too under the same circumstances.
That probably won't fly as the new logo
I categorised the cases three ways. "Good" cases were those where there was no obstruction to the mute switch at all. "Works" cases were those where there was a small physical obstruction to the mute switch, but not enough that I couldn't mute the volume without looking at it. "Doesn't Work" cases were those where I either couldn't easily mute the volume, or couldn't access it at all due to the case design. I had to omit two of the cases from the test -- the Griffin Elan Holster Metal and Belkin Verve Pull -- because while I couldn't access the mute switch while they were in use, the same was true when I placed an iPhone 4 in there; they're full case pockets rather than just cases.
Good Griffin FlexGrip Griffin Elan Form Graphite Padacs Breeze Griffin Elan Form
Works Belkin Grip Vue Belkin Grip Ergo Cygnett Second Skin Hard Candy Candy Slider Cygnett Molecule Belkin FastFit Hard Candy Bubble Slider Griffin Reveal
Don't Work Gumdrop Skin Belkin Clear Hardish Case Belkin Verve Pull Cygnett Frost Cygnett Snaps Duo Gumdrop Airshell
So which case should you buy?
The good cases all had one thing in common; there's no separator between volume and mute switch, meaning there's plenty of access space for the mute switch, so if you're shopping for a new case, it'd be wise to look for that feature. This is naturally enough nowhere near a comprehensive list; I didn't have access to one of Apple's own bumpers (although they assure me that it works) for a start. What have everyone else's experiences been? Let me know below and I'll update the list as we go.