As soon as we heard that the Nexus 4 was covered in glass on both the front and back, how am I going to keep that safe?! was a question on the minds of many. We've already taken a look at a way to keep it free of scratches with the Spigen Steinheil Dual screen/back protector, but that's just not enough for some people. Some users just want – or even need – a case.
Today we're taking a look at a trio of cases from Seidio for the N4: the Surface ($35), Active ($35), and Convert ($55 with Surface, $30 without) series. This isn't the first time we've reviewed this series of cases from Seidio, either – we looked at all three for the Galaxy Nexus back in February of last year, and more recently, the Active series for the Nexus 7.
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- Spartan GT
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The Surface is the lightest of the two, and essentially just a couple of pieces of interlocking plastic that hug the device. There are openings for all buttons and ports, as well as a metal kickstand on the back of the unit. It's currently available in black, white, red, purple, and blue.
Unlike the Surface case for the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4's variant doesn't have a back piece with a front bumper that locks everything into place, but rather two pieces that just slide across the back and lock into place. This doesn't create a seamless look like the GN's case, but I like the design much, much better.
Here's a word of advice for anyone who buys this case for their N4, though: read the instructions. I thought "what? Why do I need instructions for a case?!" – well, I can show you why:
Those scratches are from where I tried to pry the bottom half the case off because I didn't realize the indentions just above the kickstand (shown in the second image) indicated a catch release. I just thought they were there to help pull the two pieces away from each other. On the brighter side, I learned that once the case is locked in place, it stays that way. Trust me.
Overall, the Surface should provide some lightweight protection against short drops, as well as scratch protection. Would I trust it while hiking or other possibly-intense outdoor activity? Doubtful. For everyday life, though, it should fit the bill just fine. If you need something a bit more protective, read on.
The Active case consists of two pieces: a bottom silicone cover, and the "arachnid" exoskeleton. Like the Surface, it also features a metal kickstand on the back – a solid upgrade from last year's model that had a plastic kickstand.
Aside from that, the Active case for the N4 is very similar to the version for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7. Here's the basic rundown: the silicone layer is very nice and soft, and allows very easy access to all the buttons. As strange as it may sound, I think I actually like pressing the buttons better with the silicone cover on. It's pleasant. The exoskeleton is made of thin plastic, but when combined with the bottom layer, it provides essentially the "perfect" protection, because it protects the device in the places that are likely to get damaged in a fall: the back and corners.
Then there's the monster of this trio. The absolute best protection that Seidio has to offer. The Convert case is a tank.
Just like previous models, the Convert is actually two cases in one: it uses the Surface case as the bottom shell. Then there's a layer of silicone and an arachnid skeleton. Basically, it's an Active on top of the Surface. It's the toughest of the tough, and built for the most hardcore of situations.
The silicone layer features covers for both the headphone jack and charging port, as well as a small flap that protects the camera. Like I said, it means business.
Of course, with that sort of protection comes bulk, and it understandably creates a rather large "lip" all the way around the display (see the first image below). This is undoubtedly the largest of the three cases, but if you're the type who needs all the protection you can get, this is the case for you. And when you're in a "safe zone," you can always remove the exoskeleton and silicone layer. You're still left with the protection offered by the Surface case, so it's a win-win.
If you prefer to wear your phone your side – which is sometimes the only practical option – all three versions have available holsters that are actually very nice ($30 each for Surface and Active, or bundled with either case for $55 total; the Convert system is $75 with the Surface and holster). They have a spring-loaded clip at the top that not only holds the device in place, but makes it easy to get out. The Convert's holster also has a locking mechanism that prevents the phone from being removed (or falling out) – another huge bonus for the ruffians among you. Good design.
Overall, Seidio continues to show what a great accessory manufacturer it is – all three cases feature thoughtful, intuitive designs, as well as provide good levels of protection for their respective construction materials. Any way you go, these are some great cases to have if you're worried about damaging your N4.
But wait, there's more! We have a few freebies to hand out: ten cases, winners' choice. The winners will be chosen randomly, and you'll be able to specify which model/color you want when we contact you to get shipping information. It should probably go without saying, but you must choose one of the cases from this review, and it has to be for the Nexus 4.
As always, entering's easy – just follow the Rafflecopter widget.
This one's U.S. only, and begins now. It will run until Tuesday, April 2nd at 12:00 AM PT (Midnight), and we'll randomly choose the winners sometime after that.