iPhone 4: Best Accessories and Apps (Impressions Part 4)

iPhone 4 SportGrip Edge

In Part 1 of my iPhone 4 Initial Impressions article I discussed my view of Multitasking, The Retina Display, The iPhone 4′s Cameras, and finally Signal Issues with Apple’s new iPhone.

In Part 2 we looked at iMovie for iPhone, Location Awareness, The iPhone 4′s Gyroscope, and The Glass Case of the iPhone 4.

Yesterday we took a look at the iPhone 4′s overall look and feel, it’s Speed (and battery life) when compared to earlier iPhones, and a few bits and pieces that didn’t really fit into any particular category.

Today I want to round this series out with some cool stuff I have found this week while enjoying my iPhone.

Cases and Covers for Your iPhone 4:

UPDATE : Touch Reviews now has a new category where you can track all the new accessory reviews and deals. Our ‘Accessories’ category will be updated  continually so make sure you bookmark it.

I spent a lot of time chatting with people in various Apple forums, comparing notes, and tracking down what I think are some of the best accessories for the iPhone 4. First on the list, and on most people’s I am guessing, is obviously a case to protect your iPhone 4.

The first case to consider is Apple’s own Bumper. It’s not cheap, but if you can find it in an Apple store, or if it’s available online, then it’s just one click, or a couple of steps away from where you are buying your iPhone 4 anyway.

Whilst Apple’s Bumper has become somewhat infamous this week, because it is seen as an overpriced accessory that some consider we are having forced on us. To be fair it is a quality case. The Apple Bumper is not simply a band, as many have assumed. It has felt backed secondary buttons which rest over the iPhone 4′s existing buttons, for example. And is constructed from a mix of hard and soft materials to make the surround rigid where it needs to be, and soft to the touch, and on it’s rim where you put it down.

But there are alternatives…

MarWare have a marginally cheaper, and slightly different colour range of Bumpers in a similar design.

iPhone 4 Leather Case

If you prefer leather cases then Gaia Mobile Pouch is certainly worth checking out. It is a snug fitting leather pouch which hugs the iPhone both with and without a small case on the iPhone 4. The pouch comes in a range of colors and retails for under $20 and is a great option if you want to keep your phone ‘nude’ while in use, yet protected while on the move.

However, by far my favourite iPhone 4 covering to date is from GelaSkin.

GelaSkin offer something unique for every iPhone 4 user. Whilst not really a physical case for your iPhone that will protect it from drops and knocks. It is rather a screen protector for your entire device which can have either their wonderful designs printed on it, or your own. A GelaSkin is something I have chosen for my iPhone 4.

Short of having your device stripped down, and the case professionally airbrushed, this is as close as you can get to a truly beautifully customised device. And they are not just for iPhone 4s, or even just Apple gear. GelaSkin do iPads, the entire rage of iPhones, and many Nokia, Android and other devices.

Some of the artists they work with produce some stunning imagery. And they have tie ups with Marvel comic designs, and other pop culture imagery. Designing your own is devilishly simple with a web interface that even your granny could use to produce a custom iPhone cover from a few high quality image files.

If you are totally crazy about iPhone 4 cases then you could even consider something like this as a case…

I have to admit to being tempted by this high tech iPhone Bumper, which is machined from a block of aircraft grade aluminium, and weighs only 25 grams. Just like Apple’s Bumper it has buttons engineered into it that sit over your iPhone 4′s controls, making it an extension of your device. The Element Case is certainly a more reasonable purchase than the ancient wood back for the iPhone 4… Made from African Blackwood and with an 18 carat gold Apple logo it’s not cheap.

If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it!

There are also some more sensible options than those last two which come from the usual suspects… Belkin have quite a large range of iPhone 4 cases and covers.


And this rather bizarre armband for your iPhone.

It’s a great concept but I am not sure I’d want to be seen out wearing it.

Using an iPhone 4 (or any iOS 4 iPhone) with a Bluetooth keyboard.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time using my iPhone 4 with a Bluetooth keyboard this week. For part of that time I used it in the dock. But what I really wanted to do was use it in landscape mode. Especially now that iOS 4 allows a lot more apps to run in landscape. Unfortunately that entails propping your iPhone up against something. Unless you get a cheap little thing called a Movie Peg.

Watching movies or typing in landscape are too things that this super cheap and cool accessory make possible..

I have one on order.

iLuv offer some fairly funky designs of iPhone 4 cases. One of which has a stand which pops out to allow you to prop your phone up in a similar way to the Movie Peg. So you could kill two birds with one accessory there.

Screen Protectors

I am not sure if I am going to bother with a screen protector for my iPhone 4. I don’t see the glass getting scratched from normal use. But if you are desperate, both GelaSkins and iLuv are offering them. GelaSkins are not on sale yet. But iLuv’s are.

Neither are cheap!

iLuv even have “privacy” screen protectors which reduce the viewing angle at which your iPhone 4 screen can be seen from. So that nosey parkers peering over your shoulder or sat next to you on the plane cannot easily see what you are doing on your device.

Bluetooth Headset

Jawbone Icon Colors
The first thing that impressed me with the Jawbone Icon bluetooth headset was it’s great packaging, just like Apple, Jawbone have pushed out all the stops in ensuring that not only does the bluetooth headset look great on display in it’s plastic case atop the packaging but that all the accessories including multiple ear pieces, charger, sync cable and manuals are all beautifully encased.

The apps that you get to install via online synchronization include the simple choice of the voice used that talks to you, to the more complex apps that will read sms, email and other app information to you as you use Jawbone Icon. These more complex apps usually cost you although most come with free trials.

The Jawbone Icon comes in a range of 6 designs and is available in the Touch Reviews Accessories Store for $79.95 which is $20 cheaper than Apple’s own online store and if you are on the lookout for your first, or a new bluetooth device you can’t go wrong with the Jawbone Icon for iPhone.

iPhone 4 Applications

The first app I bought for the iPhone 4 was iMovie for iPhone. If you are going to buy any piece of software for this device it should be iMovie. It’s a very simple to use because it is a feature light movie editing suite. But nonetheless it is more than worth the $4.99 that Apple charge for it. Anytime you find yourself on the beach, or at a family gathering and want to just add that extra bit of pizazz to a quick video you have shot, then this is where the iPhone 4 and iMovie will really come into it’s own. You may even want to consider chucking Apple another few dollars for their Apple Component AV Cable, and then with some music added to your movie, some titles, and nice transitions you can wow your family on your home entertainment system with a movie you knocked up sat on the sofa… without ever having touched a video camera or computer! Just a thought. It’s certainly a plan I have for the very near future.

Apple have also pushed out a slew of free apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. And its worth making sure you are up to date on these.

  • “Gallery” is updated for the iPhone 4 for its Retina Display. Pictures look gorgeous on this app.
  • “iDisk” is great for checking your MobileMe files online. Including pictures.
  • And “Remote” allows you to use your iPhone to control your Apple TV, or access your media on any Mac Computer.

For me personally one of the Apps I am most excited about right now is the Formula 1 Live Timing App “Timing ’10 CP”, which gives Google Earth like views of racing action live from Formula 1 events around the globe. I’ll be brining you a full review of that in the coming weeks.

On the subject of Google Earth. Why not pull down that app for the iPhone. It’s super fast, and looks great on the Retina Display, and is of course free!

“iBooks” comes on the iPhone as part of iOS 4. But do remember you are not limited to Apple’s iBookStore. Amazon offer their “Kindle” app. And Barnes & Noble also offer a “BookStore” app, and a “B&N eReader” app. Be sure to check out Apple’s competition. They have free books too.

Finally, another cool app to stick on your iPhone 4 is the “PayPal” app. It’s really handy for sending money to people online, or even billing them. I use it among my friends right now for small transactions. And it is the first step towards your iPhone becoming your wallet. Watch PayPal closely in coming months as I think we are going to see some interesting developments there.

Well that is it on the iPhone 4 for now. Thanks for sticking with me through the last few days. I hope these last few recommendations help you out in your quest for making your iPhone 4 experience as fun as mine has been.

And really do have a go at designing a GelaSkin. Even if you don’t buy one. It’s great fun using their online tool to mock one up. And the art on their website is a joy to look through.

Do be sure to let me know your thoughts on what I have said in the comments…

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Stephen NorthcottiPhone 4: Best Accessories and Apps (Impressions Part 4)