iPhone 4S: Incipio Delta Case Disappoints

| In-Depth Review

Incipio has been making cases for the iPhones for some time, and the company offers a wealth of different models. The Delta model is a “dual protection” approach of soft and harder materials, but doesn’t measure up in some design details. On the plus side, a self-adhesive screen protector is included.

This case is vaguely similar to the OtterBox Commuter case previously reviewed. It features a high density silicone inner core that wraps all the way around the iPhone (except for the face, of course), and that, in turn, is held in place and reinforced by an acrylic shell. This shell, however, is ribbed, possibly to reduce weight.

Like other cases of this general design, the inner case protects against shock while the outer case provides rigidity and strength. But there are some things to be aware of.

  • The inner case doesn’t have an opening for the Apple logo. Some customers won’t like that.
  • The grey color chosen doesn’t look particularly good against black, in my estimation.
  • The dimple texture on the top and bottom reminds me of something from a child’s toy.
  • The ribbed outer case doesn’t provide the same strength as a solid shell.
  • Allowing the soft inner silicone to be exposed means that it tends to pick up lint and dirt from surfaces.

 

Incipio Delta 1

 

Incipio Delta 2

Front and back views

Using This Case

In reviewing this case, I found that it just didn’t have the same solid feel and good looks of some other cases. Because the outer acrylic shell is ribbed, it doesn’t provide a sense of rigidity and strength. The grey, inner silicone shell extends around the apertures and buttons creating a retro two-tone look. The color and texture provides for a distinctly non-technical appearance.

In addition, the headphone jack isn’t as well thought out as the OtterBox Commuter because it’s just an open aperture. Also, there isn’t a flap to protect the 30-pin connector, but I’ll admit that’s an arbitrary design decision. You don’t have to push a flap away when charging.

On the plus side, the volume buttons have some mass, so when you press them, they make good contact. Like the OtterBox Commuter, a display protector kit is included. It has the screen protector, a soft cleaning cloth, and a small plastic card to iron out bubbles. Another plus is that some customers will like the softer feel and perhaps better grip because a lot of the silicone is exposed.

Packaging and Instructions

As with many cases like this, the packaging is a stiff paper box with a clear plastic, clamshell insert that encloses the product. While the clamshell provides good protection during shipment, the paper box is rather tightly sealed, using two different methods. Plus, the glued seal is covered with a bar code tape, so I had trouble opening the box without damaging it. You might say that’s not a problem: the package gets thrown away anyway. But that design also prevents one from opening the case in, say, an Apple retail store to get a feel for the case without tearing it open permanently. The OtterBox design more easily allows one to open the package, evaluate the case, and place it back on the shelf relatively undamaged if it’s found unsatisfactory. That’s important when shopping for cases.

Incipio Delta 3

The Package

Included is a small, four panel booklet in English, French and Spanish that describes the product, warranty and screen protector installation. I noted that the type is miniscule and white on a black background — a popular design for some reason that is also incredibly hard to read.  A hint of that can been seen in the photo above.

Incipio Delta 4

L-R: inner silicone, outer acrylic, booklet, screen protector kit

It’s a Wrap

While this case, in most respects, is a sound design and will protect your iPhone, the feature design decisions and aesthetics leave something to be desired in my experience. My sense is that this case detracts from instead of adding to the beauty of Apple’s product. The clash of colors and textures just isn’t very handsome in my opinion.

One wonders about small design decisions as well. With a rigid polycarbonate outer shell, one can afford a small aperture for the Apple logo. In this design, that feature was omitted. And, as I mentioned, this design tends to pick up lint and debris. I was constantly brushing stuff off, but then your desk may be cleaner than mine. That design does contribute, however, to a grippier feel.

A final negative is that this case is priced at US$34.95, like the OtterBox case, but doesn’t provide the same features and total hard shell coverage as the OtterBox Commuter. The documentation is hard to read. I will say, however, that the workmanship and materials seemed adequate, Also, this case works equally well for the iPhone 4.

The net-net is that I can’t recommend this particular case at the current price for those who want premium looks and premium protection.

Product: Delta for iPhone 4/4S

Company: Incipio

List Price: US$34.95

Pros:

Adequate protection, screen protector, soft & secure grip.

Cons:

Hard to read documentation, incomplete hard shell protection, not a handsome, technical design due to choice of texture, no aperture for Apple logo, design tends to attract surface debris.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

But that design also prevents one from opening the case in, say, an Apple retail store to get a feel for the case without tearing it open permanently.

This is a big problem for me, I want to try on such things. Reviews such as yours help a lot, but there is a low level in hell for whomever came up with clamshell packaging.

I noted that the type is miniscule and white on a black background ? a popular design for some reason that is also incredibly hard to read.

It seems to be hip with designers who want to be hipsters. It works for headlines and such in large type sizes, but is not good for body copy and fine print. Gray text on white is almost as bad.

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