(Note: this post was going to have pictures. Unfortunately my SD card is MIA. I’ll add them here when I can find it)
When I bought my Nexus 4 in SF earlier this year I bought the first cheap case I saw at a nearby kiosk. It’s been…ok…I mean, I’ve dropped the phone about three times now and luckily avoided the dreaded glass crack so that’s something, right? At the same time, the case just felt kind of flimsy and unpleasant in that cheap plastic-y sort of way. My biggest gripe with it has been how difficult it is to remove. The case consisted of two parts - the back panel and the frame that snapped onto the panel from the front of the phone. Because I run with my phone, I have to take it out of the case to fit it comfortably into either an arm band or the FlipBelt I’m taking with me. One time it took fifteen minutes to pry the front frame off and remove the phone. There have been broken nail incidents. One time I had to use a knife. Until one day, a couple of the clasps that hold the case together so tightly simply snapped off. Now that the case was essentially broken it became pleasantly easy to pry it open.
Anyway, let’s just say that when MobileZap offered to send me their Rearth Ringke Fusion Case to review I was more than happy to partake. They have a pretty decent selection of cases, but this one appealed to me the most because it was designed to show off the awesome back design of the Nexus 4.
I’ve been walking around with the case for a couple of weeks and it’s safe to say that it’s a much needed improvement on my semi-broken whatever-it-was.
The Rearth Ringke Fusion Case feels good in the hand, with subtle edges and slightly grippy sides (no need to worry about it slipping out of your hand unless you’re a real clutz). On the back the case has a subtle notch at each corner to raise it up very slightly from the surface it’s sitting on. The two benefits of this are: 1) a more open rear speaker and 2) slight scratch protection for the back of the case. In fact, it looks like the Nexus 4 has actually been redesigned to add similar nubs itself, so for those who are not getting the new version of the phone this case pretty much does the same thing.
On the front, the framing around the case also protrudes slightly past the screen, so if you leave it sitting face down the screen won’t rub against whatever surface it’s on either.
But of course, the standout feature of the Ringke Fusion case for the Nexus 4 is the transparent back panel, which is designed to show off the awesome, semi-glittery design of the back of the phone. And this would be perfect if not for a big problem - there’s a visible bubble where the case presses against the back of the phone. It seems to not touch the phone evently, and where it does it leaves a visible darker area (almost looks like you have liquid trapped under it). It starts out small, but over the course of wear it’s expanded to encompass much of the back side of the phone. When I looked up other reviews of this case I heard this mentioned in a video review. The reviewer attributed this bubbling to the fact that he had a screen protector on the back, claiming that this would not happen if the protector was removed. This is not the case for me - I have no screen protector on the back of my phone, yet the bubble is definitely there. Personally I don’t care that much (this is the girl who’s stuck with a cheapo broken case for months and hasn’t even taken the front sticker the phone comes with off yet), but considering this back panel is the major selling point of the whole case I can see it being a problem…
As for case removal - it’s a simple slip on/off mechanism. Secure when on, but much easier to remove when required. No weird latches. I will be curious to see how well it holds up to repeated removal, though - will the flexible sides stretch out eventually (which we definitely do not want) or will the case keep its shape despite repeated removals? I may do a follow-up later.
Anyway, I’m sticking with the Ringke Fusion for the foreseeable future.