My iPhone 4 Survival Kit

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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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