Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers cure the now infamous problem of the iPhone 4 antenna not working. But would you pay £25 for the privilege? Our review explains all.
Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers are a neat accessory to add the iPhone 4. They wrap around the edges of the device protecting the sides, and to a lesser extent the screen, they also add a touch of colour to Apple's monochrome phone.
Also see iPhone 4S review
Perhaps more importantly, they also shield the external antennae from your hands. And let's face it... by now there can't be many people left on earth who haven't heard about the iPhone 4 and its antennae.
Put simply, Apple made the bold (in retrospect quite foolhardy) decision to place the three antennae of the iPhone on the outside of the device. As well as being a neat stylistic touch this ensures that the signal gets direct access to the phone without being barred by a plastic or metal case.
But holding the iPhone with your left hand touching both the top and bottom antennae causes bars to disappear from the menu. So it's difficult to test the Apple iPhone 4 Bumper without putting it in the context of the iPhone 4 antennae. For iPhone 4 owners this is a must-have item, mostly because it prevents the iPhone 4 from losing its signal. You've got little real choice in the matter. The question is will you like it?
It's certainly well built. The Apple iPhone 4 Bumper is a ring of rubber and plastic that surrounds the edge of the iPhone 4. The inner part is rubber with the band running around the outside made of shiny plastic.
A nice touch is that the plastic band also houses metallic buttons for the volume controls and sleep/wake button. Cut out holes enable you to access the mute switch, dock connector, earphones and speakers.
Attaching the Bumper is as simple as you'd imagine. You slide it around the phone. It provides a snug fit and does pretty much what you imagine it to do.
Because the Bumper doesn't cover the back of the phone, it doesn't provide the all round protection of a dedicated case. However, it does slightly raise the iPhone off the surface of whatever it is sitting on, so it will help to keep the back of the phone (now made of glass) scratch and scuff free.
Also it keeps most of the iPhone visible, which is in many ways a boon. Most cases suffer in our minds because they cover up a beautifully designed piece of kit with something usually less well designed.
Even so we're not 100 per cent enamoured with the way an iPhone looks with a Bumper attached. We're testing out the blue model here and it certainly changes the aesthetic look of the phone. It doesn't make it look cheap, exactly, but it's not quite as stylish as the metallic band that runs around the edge. The iPhone 4 looks very different with a Bumper attached.
We think the colours probably look better with the white phone (it's telling that Apple uses the white phone to display the Bumpers on the store, even though it's not on sale yet).
There's also the issue of the price. At £25 it's hardly a cheap accessory, especially given the fact that it is at heart a bit of rubber and plastic (with three bits of metal embedded in the side). And then there's a fairly substantial argument for Apple giving away Bumpers for free to all iPhone owners, and including one in the box from now on. Unless Apple manages to fix the antennae problem, which we're hearing isn't possible.
There's no denying how popular they are though. Black Bumpers are shipping in 5-7 days, but all other colours will take up to three weeks. Apple stores are currently out of stock and we expect them to stay that way for a while.
If you're an iPhone 4 owner you really should get one of these. It solves any problems you might encounter with reception, and offers protection for the exposed rear screen and metal antennae. Although we haven't stress-tested the iPhone we'd bet money on it being not as drop resistant as the Apple iPhone 3G S.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>
See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?
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