How to Choose Cases for iPhone 4s and iPhone 4

(10/17/2011 Update: My iPhone 4s is just delivered. Since a lot of people questioned, I want to tell you that I tried the two cases with the iPhone 4s and it fits perfectly. I don’t have time to write a blog about it, so I’m going to use the the photos from JustCase)

While the world is still waiting for the iPhone 4s to be available, which takes at least 5 more days. Gadget lovers who have pre-ordered the iPhone 4s and who will try to wait in line at Apple Stores on 10/14 morning have no better ways of killing time than shopping online for the available iPhone 4s accessories. The most popular accessories for iPhone 4s, is of course an iPhone case.

Both iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s have the same dimension of 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm.  They differ in terms of weight as the new iPhone 4S is heavier at 140g while the iPhone 4 is lighter at 137g. So, can we use the iPhone 4 cases for 4s? If you search the Internet, there are already somany iPhone 4s cases out there. Will they really work for all the iPhone 4s?

What I would like to tell you that: it is not an accurate statement to say iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s are the same. Sometimes they are not. The reason I say this is because in US market, there are two kinds of iPhone 4s. There are GSM iPhone 4 which we can call the AT&T iPhone 4, since it’s used by AT&T users, and the CDMA iPhone 4 which we can call the Verizon iPhone 4. iPhone 4s is the same as Verizon one, but not the AT&T phone.

The major difference between AT&T phone and Verizon phone, or iPhone 4 and 4s, that may decide is a case is suitable is the location of the mute button and volume keys. In the following picture. The upper one is a iPhone 4s (Verizon phone) and the lower one is an iPhone 4 (AT&T phone). As you can see, the mute key is about 0.12 inch higher and the volume keys are 0.06 inch lower.

Therefore when you choose cases, especially those “barely there” snap on cases, that tries to fit the phone as much as possible, you need to make sure they won’t block any of your keys and buttons.

If you read my previous blog Free Updgrade to iPhone 4s from iPhone 4, you will know that I recently bought two cases on Amazon. This is a new brand, and you should be able to find them on Amazon by searching “JustCase”. I bought them because they proclaim these two cases work for iPhone 4 and 4s for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

(Update: I got quite a few people asking me where I bought these cases. Even though I have said search JustCase on Amazon, I guess people like links today, so here we go:

JustCase Metallica:

JustCase Slim:


Both cases works for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. First of all, I used an iPhone App called Ruler to measure the case openings.

I only have AT&T phones, so I can not show you how it looks on Verizon phones, but I use the specifications of the button location to simulate a photo, and from the phone, both phones should fit perfectly in the Metallica case.

The red case is for my wife. From the following picture, you should see it’s having an opening big enough for both phones. It doesn’t have a connection on top of the keys or connection between the keys, but it makes it much easier to take off the case, which is necessary for my wife, who’s got about 8 or 9 iPhone cases, and she changes cases to match her clothes, and sometimes her mood (which I still don’t understand).

Actually there is something else that is different between iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. It’s on the top of the phone, the 4s has an extra antenna, and the speaker hole is slightly shifted to the right if you are facing the phone.

Therefore, if you are buying those bumper cases, which wraps around the sides of the iPhones, you need to make sure the hole is big enough for the speaker connector. Personally I like snap on cases, and for those cases, they usually keep the top and bottom wide open, so you can easily rip it open.

As for the back cover, one thing you need to pay attention to is the camera opening. A lot of the cases do a pear shape opening that looks really nice. If you just look at it, neither the camera, the bigger circle, nor the flash, the smaller circle are covered. However, if you take a photo with flash light, the flash is so strong and it will reflect on the edge of the opening and add the color of the case to your photo, which may be an effect you wanted on the last night of October.

It says the flash for iPhone 4s is much stronger than iPhone 4, therefore, when I buy cases, make sure it has a big hold for the camera. Especially if you like bright color cases.

Some cases has an opening for the apple logo, some doesn’t. Personally I like to show the logo, but I’m fine with the Metallica case. I like the brushed aluminum feel, and an opening will probably interrupt the flow of the cool brushes.

As for the bottom of the iPhone, just make sure it won’t cover up the speakers, but the location of the speakers are the same for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s.

The phone speakers are really dirty. Yeah, I know. It’s about time for the new guy with an S.

  1. #1 by Dave Leinen on October 10, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    Thanks very much for taking the time to make these comparisons!

  2. #2 by Josh Gainer on October 10, 2011 - 6:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing the information? What do you think of the two cases?

    • #3 by icollectgadget on October 11, 2011 - 3:17 pm

      Josh, thanks! The cases works fine on my iPhone 4, but I will wait to answer your question after I tried them on my iPhone 4s.

  3. #4 by cm on October 11, 2011 - 2:58 pm

    Great work here! I did order the Body Guardz for the iPhone 4 for my 4S…should that be ok? I then plan to couple that with the bumper from Apple.

  4. #5 by JHapworth on October 12, 2011 - 5:22 am

    I’m curious… I’m getting the AT&T 4S. I purchased an Otterbox Defender for the iPhone 4, hoping it would fit. I know the site says I should buy their new (more expensive) version, but I want to ask you because you have the models to compare. Do you think it’ll fit fine?

    • #6 by icollectgadget on October 12, 2011 - 8:49 am

      Unfortunately I can’t answer your question, since I don’t have the Otterbox case. I think the case companies should provide upgrade or trade in services, when new iPhone versions are released. Don’t you agree?

    • #7 by Nathaniel Weiss on October 16, 2011 - 12:47 am

      did you find out anything RE the Otterbox Defender?

      • #8 by icollectgadget on October 18, 2011 - 7:19 pm

        No, I have not. The JustCase metallica case is the first iPhone case I have used.

  5. #9 by Mr Who on October 13, 2011 - 1:43 pm

    So let me get this straight; there are two types of iPhone 4, which can be distinguished by the extra/lack of antenna. But there is only one type of iPhone 4S. Therefore, if I have a precise fitting case for the CDMA/Verizon version of the iPhone 4, I may use it for my new iPhone 4S, regardless of the network. Is this correct? I don’t particularly want to buy another case…

  6. #11 by Trace on October 25, 2011 - 1:48 pm

    This is very helpful. I also appreciate your reply on the Apple support site that led me here. Most people make snap judgements based on assumptions. You’re my kind of geek!

    • #12 by icollectgadget on October 26, 2011 - 12:53 am

      Hi Trace, I’m glad it helps, and thanks for leaving me a comment.

  7. #13 by LisaNYC on November 8, 2011 - 12:47 pm

    Thanks for your helpful blog post! I also found you via the Apple Forum. I’m disappointed – I purchased a Sena Ultraslim leather case for my iPhone 4S, and it was too small. The company claims it’s supposed to be tight at first until the leather stretches, but I could only get the iPhone about halfway into the sleeve, and was worried I’d break the phone. They sent me another, but it’s also way too tight. The Sena company claimed the Ultraslim cases would fit both the 4 and 4S phones. I’ll keep looking – your post helps a lot in finding the right iPhone 4S case!

    I’m searching for a case that protects the front of the phone, not just the back. Do you know of any? The ones that I’ve seen just the back of the phones are covered. Thanks!

    • #14 by icollectgadget on November 8, 2011 - 9:32 pm

      Lisa, thanks for the comments. There are different cases for iPhones, and the ones I talked about, and liked are the snap on back cases. These cases are easy to install, and protects the back and side of your phone, but they don’t provide much protection to the front, or it won’t be easy to snap the case on.

      You can find many cases that wraps around the edges of the front glass as well. I don’t like those cases, though. Because when you type a lot on the phone, you will feel the edges are getting in your way, so I would use a screen protector for the front at most… and pray for that my phone won’t drop down on the front. 🙂

      • #15 by LisaNYC on November 9, 2011 - 2:28 pm

        Thanks very much, I’ll check out those snap cases. Appreciate your help!

  8. #16 by the tay monster on November 27, 2011 - 6:08 pm

    Thank you so much. This helps a lot!!!

  9. #17 by Arianne on December 2, 2011 - 11:25 pm

    Ah! Thanks so much for sparing me the anxiety of ordering a cover for my iphone 4s and wondering if it will fit or not!

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