Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The iPhone flip Case - A Major Issue for 3 Companies at least

So, after my sensor problems with my current case in question, I began my quest to look for a new case for my iPhone 4.  I looked at a lot of candy shell cases, but in the end, I really wanted a flip case.  I was used to the flip case and I still feel that it provides a great deal of safety and privacy for the phone.  I am particularly interested in the so-called all-in-one cases which look very professional. These cases have a slot for 1 or 2 credit cards and a brief note or two.

The Sena Hampton Flip
I visited the Apple Store a few days ago to go over the Sena case issue that I had found and then to see if the issue was resolved with a new Sena case - one made specifically for the iPhone 4.  Unfortunately, I have to report that the issue remains the same with the new Sena Hampton Flip case, which is a beautiful all-in-one.  After installing my phone in the case, I ran into the same issue with the sensor that I had with 3G Sena case.   That particular Apple Store sent back the only Hampton flip that they had left.  It was an issue!

I then looked at other cases and found that many had design changes that kept the top part of the case away from the sensor, but others had the same design as the Hampton.  However, during my research, I found a case that I thought might fit my needs.  It is called the Belkin Verve Folio.  It is an all-in-one flip that has a unique flap that does not cover the camera, thus creating stellar pictures without the "tunnel" glare that you can sometimes find when a case is too deep.   It also has a small recess in the cover for holding cards.  Well, something interesting showed up when I did a Google search for the product.  There are apparently two versions of the same product available.  One that looks like the Hampton and another that has a completely redesigned top half.  I believe that this redesign is a tip of the hat to the sensor issue that exists with many of these cases.  See the difference for yourself between the two versions.

The Belkin Verve Version 1

This is the Belkin Verve Folio that appears to have been reviewed in Amazon and in a few video reviews.  All reviews but one do not mention a sensor issue.  However, the top part of the iPhone is very similar to the Sena Hampton cover, which causes the Black Screen issue when making or receiving a call.

The one negative review was found on the AT&T sales website.   In black and white, the issue that has plagued me for 5 months, brought up again in a very small blurb by one reviewer:

(Quote Verbatim):
"the screen dissapear and turn black for few seconds when receiving call. The top leather cover the sensors"

The Belkin Verve Version 2?
This is the same Belkin Verve Folio that appears to be version 2.  Notice the different cut out at the top of the screen.  Is there a difference between this model and the first that has sensor issues similar to those that plagued the Sena Hampton?

So how does the new version of this device match up with the Sena Hampton or the original Belkin Verve?   (Sidenote:  There is some question as to why the down volume switch on the first model is covered by the case while the up volume remains open.  I personally think that this was probably done because the case was originally made for the iPhone 3GS and ported over to the iPhone 4).  The newer model appears to be better, somewhat more refined.  It is this model that I  purchased a week ago and I will give a review as to whether the device encounters the same sensor issue as its predecessor.  

One interesting finding though is the fact that neither version of the Verve is available on the U.S. website of Belkin.  Is it possible that this sensor issue was more major than anyone cared to talk about?   The Verve is only available in Europe and that is where I am getting it from.  

So, I thought that I had finished detailing this topic, until voila - another set of unhappy customers, this time over at Case-mate, where they make some of the finest ceramic iPhone 4 cases, but where they also seem to be having a problem with the flip leather cases.   There is a beautiful leather case, another all-in-one solution called unoriginally, The iPhone 4 Flip Wallet Case. This thing is absolutely gorgeous, but alas, the comments on the web page leave a lot to be desired:

The Casemate iPhone 4 Flip Wallet Case
This, taken verbatim from

Problem with proximity sensor

Great case, well made, looks good for business, solid, good wallet for 2 cards or 1 card and a note. Basic error on design. The front surround is too deep. The proximity sensor catches it and the phones screen turns on and off at the most awkward times. Im putting up with it at the moment, but not sure it will be on my phone for much longer. I wouldn't buy this version. Id wait fro Casemate to make the front surrond shallower.

And another: 

Makes the phone unusable!!!!! Waiting for my refund!!!!!!!!

So I am a big fan of credit card slot cases. I was looking for a good leather case that could be used as a wallet. When I got this case I really liked how it looked. Then after using it for a day I noticed a major design flaw. Because this cause comes down close to the ear hole and front facing camera, it covers the proximity sensor to the point where the screen will remain off when you are on a call and it will not turn back on regardless if you have the phone away from your face or even when the call has ended. To turn the screen back on you must remove the phone from the case to expose the proximity sensor. So every time I got a call this happened. So in my honest opinion this case makes the phone unusable/disabled. I am currently waiting for casemate to refund me. It cost me over $5 to ship it back to them so I basically wasted money on this case. Hopefully casemate has good customer service and they refund me ASAP.

So, I AM NOT ALONE!  This seems to be a long standing problem with other manufacturers.  Perhaps the iPhone 4 cannot use a flip case due to significant issues with its sensor.  This is obviously not only a problem with SENA or BELKIN as now a third company, CASE-MATE seems to have the same issue.  Belkin has apparently withdrawn its name, at least in the U.S. from advertising flip cases.  Now that I know that the problem is found with 3 different companies' flip covers, it is probably time to do some reflection as to whether I should actually purchase a flip cover at all for my phone, which I have no plans on changing for at least another 2 years.  I would hate to purchase the OTTER.   But it is looking as though this may be the path of least resistance.  I am still awaiting the European version of Belkin's Verve and I will give a review on that as soon as I get it.   I think that if this does not solve the sensor issue, then I may need to come up with a prototype of my own....:). 


Just for the record, I want all of you to know that Sena, Belkin and Case-Mate make some of the best iPhone covers and cases.  Personally, I think that I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a case from any of them.  They all make quality products so please do not take my comments above to mean that you should not buy a case from any of the 3 companies listed above.  Just be a little weary of the flip cases on the iPhone 4 from any company.   But feel free to go and see for yourself the quality workmanship that you can find and the great selections from these companies.  I have listed their websites below.  Believe me, my comments are no reflection of the extraordinary work that these people put into their products.

Sena Cases
Belkin Cases
Case-Mate Cases


  1. Just wondering if you have found a flip case that works. This problem is driving me crazy. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for writing and reading my posts. Yes, this drove me crazy for a while too. I finally settled on the Belkin. The Sena cases still have the fatal camera flaw. The only downside to the Belkin Verve is that its wonderful aqua blue interior, which looks extraordinarily stylish gets dirty very quickly. Additionally, the velcro at the back is a little iffy after 3 months of use.

    But I still like it because it stores my credit card and drivers license without problems. I cannot claim that it's the best of all time, but it's the one that I use at the moment.

    My friend uses the Side-Opening Sena case which is coming apart after a year, so he has been non-plussed by this. It's a difficult thing. I guess all of this would be moot if we just joined the happy legions of people using the Uber thick cases :).

  3. Hi,
    Thanks for your nice post about iPhone flip Case.A really well written post, thank you for your hard work, please keep it up
    Flip WalletGreat post, great blog!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. You are very welcome. Thanks for reading my blog. I hope this helps.

  6. Thank you very much for the thorough review of Belkin case. I have purchased Verve Folio yesterday and was looking for some reviews, your was the most comprehensive one - so thank you again!

  7. Anonymous,

    Thank you for the post. I am extremely grateful that I was able to help you find a case. I thought the problem was important enough to share it with all. Again, thanks.

  8. I have the Sena flip case and the IPhone 4. I have never had any trouble with any of the above. So not sure if it is someone being too picky or what. But I have never had a problem with reception, the camera, etc.

    1. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I was able to prove that this was the problem at the Apple store about a month after writing this article. You may have been very lucky.

      It's all moot now, at least for me, since I've moved on. But I know that the iPhone 4 is a very popular phone still, so the caveat remains.

  9. I looked at a lot of candy shell cases, but in the end, I really wanted a flip case.iphone 4 flip

  10. Heya¡­my very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. I also wanted to there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

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  11. I know Laura well and she is principled, thoughtful, and extremely bright...more power to her!

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I will be trying unmoderated comments for a while. If this gets ridiculous, then I will have to move to moderating the comments once again.