I’ve been using Android phones for 2.5 years and for all my phones (Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10, Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S3, and LG Nexus 4) I’ve bought “gel” cases. The gel cases are made of soft rubber which allows phones to bounce rather than break if dropped and also provide better grip (both for holding the phone and for resting it on a vibrating surface such as a tray in a car or plane). The cases have cost me between $12.50 and $15, I haven’t felt inclined to pay any more because a case has always seemed like a needless expense, something that merely compensates for deficiencies in phone design.
There are some problems with the gel cases, the first one is that they are rather ugly, while I’m not really interested in decorating my phones it seems a waste to have a nice phone like the Nexus 4 which has a neat sparkling pattern on the back and then use a case that entirely covers it. The next problem is the fact that the gel cases tend to restrict access to the buttons on the outside of the case.
I have been given a Rearth Ringke Fusion case for my Nexus 4 by MobileZap (this is a link for the Nexus 4 cases they sell) . The case features a transparent layer of plastic at the back which protects the phone against having the rear glass of the case break (a known risk with the Nexus 4) while still allowing the user to admire it. With good lighting the sparkling pattern on the back of the phone can still be enjoyed, unfortunately this doesn’t show up at all in my photo. It’s impossible for a photo to capture a shimmering effect although other photographers have done a better job at showing off a Nexus 4. Also the transparent back to the case gives the option of putting any form of decoration between the phone and the case, for example one could print the logo of their Ingress team and put it between the phone and the case.
One thing that is visible in the photo is the feet on the back of the case. With small feet at the corners the transparent back usually won’t touch a surface that it rests on, this should prevent unsightly scratches to the back of the case. Also the feet can get some grip on the surface that it rests on, my car has a tray suitable for resting a phone which has a pattern of dimples that catch the feet of the Ringke case and prevent it from sliding.
Finally the external buttons for power and volume control are not obstructed in any way. After using 7 phones of 4 different models with gel cases I’ve become accustomed to buttons either being difficult to press or easy to press accidentally. The Ringke case allows the buttons to be pressed easily when needed but doesn’t seem prone to accidental presses.
I’m not about to buy a new case for my Galaxy Note 2 (my main phone at the moment) because I don’t like paying to replace something that works. But next time I buy a case I’ll look for something better than a plain gel case, it’s worth paying an extra $9 to get a good case for a phone that costs $350 (the current discount rate for a Nexus 4) or more. I definitely recommend the Ringke case for a Nexus 4.