Nothing says a good deal like a cheap Android prime smartphone and a few great cases to protect it for under $10, and some pocket change. We love deals and just about anything that's offered to consumers for a banging price like the $300, off-contract Google Nexus 4. Naturally, we thought it would be nice to show our love for Google's Nexus 4 by having a look at a few protective accessories for people on a tight budget like the Borderline by Poetic and generic case manufacturer, Diztronic. Two very different types of cases with solid potential for style and protection. Both are dirt cheap options you can grab off of Amazon, and that aren't going to cost you more than $13. But enough of that, what you're here to know is whether or not these two cases will be worth your lint-infested pocket change. Our twofer review is right around the corner.
The Borderline and Diztronic cases for the Nexus 4 are the two most popular cases on Amazon - and for good reason. While I wasn't expecting the same kind of quality you'd get with a known brand named case, these two did not disappoint and are certainly worth trying out.
First on the poor man's list of affordable cases is the $12.50 Diztronic Nexus 4 case. It comes in solid black and a few other basic palettes including some that are translucent with a bit of artificial sparkles added for flare. Packaged inside a typical eBay-esque clear slip packaging, the Diztronic confirms the fear of cheapness straight up. But don't be so quick to judge, because as it turns out the case proves itself to be a bang-for-your-buck worthy case. Design wise, the Diztronic is as basic and boring to look as they come. But with that being said, it's surprisingly a really good standard TPU case with a nice touch to it in terms of the overall fit and finish it has.
The back is plain with a large, embossed Diztronic logo just in case you fail to credit its name to a friend or a stranger in public. The TPU material this case is molded from is flexible yet retains its rigidity well for a snug and from-fitting fit. And that's important to help avoid any potential sagging of the material around the phone. The finish is matte in texture and feels quite nice to the touch compared to some of the TPU cases you get buying off of eBay, respectively. However, it offers no additional grip in that the extra-fine grainy texture has a slick surface which is fine for easy pocket slippage, but contrary to that it can also help your Nexus 4 slide out of a shallow pocket when sitting down. Lint doesn't attract to the Diztronic's black TPU material as well.
With the Diztronic case, you get the most protection available unlike the Poetic bumper. That means a small drop from a waist height will most likely not crack the back glass panel of your Nexus 4. The buttons are also covered and protected by the thin TPU button indentations which are fairly easy to press, albeit feel slightly mushy. Also, it's worth noting that these buttons are somewhat difficult to find if you were to touch around looking for a button. You'll find that the Diztronic case has all the correct cutouts for the camera and flash, speaker including wide cutouts for the bottom micro-USB port, 3.5mm headphone port and the top and bottom microphones.
Looking at the front of the Diztronic case you can tell that it is covering up that hideous chromed plastic bezel pf the Nexus 4 with a high-gloss black rim that nicely complements the Nexus 4's black display creating a stealthy, seamless look, which I think is one of the Diztronic's strongest features. The lip is also creates protects the Nexus 4's display with a lay-on-the-table design. This case is slim enough to be protective without adding too much bulk to the already chubby from factor of the Nexus 4, while having all the best qualities of a great every-day case I'd be more than happy to use myself. The two mixtures of glossy and matte finishes are quite a pleasing detail to see on such an underrated, low-cost case. And because of that, we think the Diztronic Nexus 4 case is good enough to recommend.
If covering up your Nexus 4's glittery back glass isn't an option for you, then might we suggest Poetic's $10 Borderline. Similar to Apple's Bumper and just about every iPhone 5 bumper-style case copied by third-party manufacturers, the Borderline is a dual-injection molded bumper case in that it wraps around the Nexus 4 leaving the front and back completely airy for all to see. The Borderline bumper is definitely the choice to go with if you're not too happy about covering up the unique design, and for limited protection. Poetic's Borderline comes with actual retail packaging as opposed to the Diztronic's very basic mall kiosk packaging. Not that it really matters, but still.
Like the Diztronic case, the Borderline bumper is nice to hold, while providing unhindered access to all the ports and mics with built-in tactile buttons you can actually discern as individual buttons. Poetic's Borderline bumper offers a snug fit, and protection against corner impacts and other minor drops. It's primarily made from a dual-injected semi-rigid glossy polycarbonate outer band (that's the yellow colored layer), with an a gray-colored flexible rubbery TPU material which borders the polycarbonate band on either side offering both shock-protection as well hint of grip. Both the back and front sides of the Nexus 4 are recessed with a decent amount of lay-over created by the Borderline's raised TPU bumper lip/border. I'd love to see a more rubbery, grippier TPU material used instead of what's currently used in the Borderline bumper that's more along the lines of Speck's CandyShell series. I guess that is why you're paying a third of the price.
The quality of the Borderline bumper is a mixed bag. The yellow color for instance isn't as vivid as it looks online as it is in person. Instead, it's more of a washed-out finish that's slightly dull near the edges and not entirely consistent as you'd expect it to be. It kind of looks like as if the this bumper sat under direct sunlight for months while the color slowly started to fade. So while you aren't going to get a quality bumper for $10 in this case, you are getting what you pay for and it's not so bad to be honest. Hopefully this is an isolated issue with this particular bumper or even color.
Caveat aside, at only $10 - Poetic's Borderline is one of the best bumper-style cases you'll find for the Nexus 4 that even rivals Google's never-in-stock official Nexus 4 Bumper with a 3-year warranty to sweeten the deal. The Borderline bumper comes in 6 colors to fit your fancy unlike what Google is offering - a side of black and nothing more. And if you like the bumper-style of the Borderline but still want to fully protect the back of your Nexus 4, Poetic's new $10 Atmosphere case combines the best of both worlds with a semi-transparent back. Either way, you've got nothing to lose. The Borderline is a likeable bumper you'd use primarily to maintain the Nexus 4's interesting glass display. The finish isn't as great as the fit unfortunately.