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Summary:

While I wouldn’t want to return to the days of clamshells, external antennas and dumphones, using the iPhone 4 sometimes feels like making calls with a fragile butterfly. To that end, I’ve built an accessory ecosystem to keep my iPhone 4 both beautiful and useful.

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While I wouldn’t want to return to the days of clamshells, external antennas and dumphones, using the pristine beauty of the iPhone 4 sometimes feels like making calls with a fragile butterfly. To that end, I’ve built an accessory ecosystem to keep my iPhone 4 both beautiful and useful.

Although the hot air associated with “Antennagate” has mostly blown over, it hasn’t altered the physics of iPhone 4 signal attenuation, but there’s an app for that. Apple will provide you with one of their bumpers in many colors or one of many third-party offerings for free, but a bumper isn’t for me.

From the 19th century fob pocket to the 21st century “Jobs pocket,” I prefer my iPhone in that little pocket-in-pocket in my jeans, which means skinning. While there are many options available, I prefer the original art from GelaSkins. The vinyl adheres without sticky adhesive to my iPhone 4, including the all-important sides, has a nice texture, and can even be removed and reused, plus wallpaper is included. GelaSkins cost $14.95.

For the display, I use a brand of screen protector sold at Apple Stores until all such protective films were banned for no good reason earlier this year. I like Power Support films,because you get two in the package for $19.95, meaning you can save one when upgrading to a new iPhone, and they make tortuous installation process as painless as possible.

Unless you wear a bunny suit and live in a particle-free clean room, a speck of dust can bubble your transparent film and ruin the view of your iPhone 4 Retina Display. That’s why the best time to install a screen protector is when you remove the protective wrapping on a new iPhone 4. If not, the included adhesive film for removing dust really helps. The Crystal Film set is $19.95, or $24.95 for front and back films.

Unless you’re a silhouette person wildly dancing in a music ad, it’s just common sense to also have a pair of Bluetooth stereo headphones for your iPhone 4. If not, sooner or later you’ll be at the gym on a treadmill or vacuuming the carpet at home when your headphone wire catches on something.

To avoid finding out just how durable the glass of my iPhone 4 is, I use the Motorola S305 Bluetooth Stereo Headset. While there are many headsets to choose from, the S305 costs about $35 at Amazon.com, provides decent sound, good battery life, doesn’t skip, and can even pair with multiple devices pretty easily. On the downside, people say it sounds like I’m calling while falling down a deep well, but the S305 is for listening, not talking, and for iPhone 4 safety.

For personal safety as well as iPhone safety, a car kit is a must. I use the custom mounts of ProClip. The two-part system is designed specifically for your vehicle and your iPhone, though it turns out the iPhone 4 fits rather nicely into the iPhone 3GS holder. The many mounting options start at around $60 and can end at well over $100.

I also use a charging/audio input solution from Griffin Technology that I bought for my iPhone 3GS, but is no longer sold. While there are many options, I’d be interested if anyone makes a cable that does not generate that annoying “not optimized” notification every time I plug the iPhone in.

Finally, if you’re also unfortunate enough to be chained to AT&T’s second-rate network, an AT&T 3G MicroCell can be the difference between five bars and none, which would be five. By leeching off my broadband provider, the 3G MicroCell makes my iPhone 4 usable at home for $150 upfront. However, some AT&T customers have apparently been offered free MicroCells. An angry call to AT&T customer service couldn’t hurt.

If this all seems like a lot of trouble for a phone, remember that in the end it’s not just about survival, but also about enjoying your iPhone 4. Otherwise why not just buy the Android flavor of the month?

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  1. Nice write up. I always like to see how other people use the same things I’m using. Love the power support screen protectors!

  2. What’s funny about your post is with my android phone from sprint I don’t need a signal booster or thaat Purdy little vinyl wrap to get five bars on my android phone no matter how i hold it. Its a shame that ios will never be able to beat what android accomplished already, you’ve been behind the curve since 08.

    1. Why would you read this in the first place then? Go enjoy that android thing there… geez.

  3. Otherwise why not just buy the Android flavor of the month?

    Nice, Jade, nice – see you’re still busy keeping it classy.

    Also, I think your diaper needs a-changin’.

    1. Your last sentence is kind of a self-defeating statement, because, while (presumably) used to point out immaturity in the article (which I don’t see BTW, see below), it actually makes you sound immature.

      It’s the sad truth about Android – there’s a new phone about every month. Most of them are also quickly forgotten and just keep the platform as fragmented as possible. That’s a deal-breaker for many people. If it isn’t so for you, you can state that politely. Try it!

  4. Chris McIntosh Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    So… assuming I can convince them to replace my shattered iphone after two days of owning it (a week at this point, I don’t exactly have every opportunity to go to the apple store) what should I do to avoid another shattered back if I drop it four inches from the ground again? Do they make adhesive bubble wrap?

    1. Be a bit more careful perhaps?

      1. Yeah, I think so too. Nethertheless my iPhone dropped 3 times and it looks like nothing happend. And in four weeks owning it no scratches. I love the glass back.

    2. Personally, I think the glass back was a terrible idea, but no one at Apple apparently thought so, or perhaps possessed the intestinal fortitude to speak out against it. Skins or cases and screen protectors really only can be counted on to protect from scratching. What you really need to do is be constantly aware of the fragile nature of the iPhone 4 until a solid grip becomes reflexive.

      1. I think having a glass back is stupid because it is far more likely to break compared to plastic.

  5. Hard to believe you still use a screen protector, removed mine a long time ago and never had a scratch, screen looks beautiful too. There was a reason for Apple withdrawing them, you just don’t need it, I still have the other one from a pack of two that cost 20 bucks.

  6. Also on the 3g microcell, I was fortunate enough to get one free. And honey and persistance works better than anger. It also helped that I was on with my corporate discount. It took me 3 or 4 days of calling in and trying things they suggested and then they offered me it.

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