A while back we took a look at PureGear’s rugged iPhone 4/4S case offering, the DualTek Extreme Shock case. Even though we gave the DualTek an outstanding review, the truth is that not everyone wants or even needs a maximum protection case for their iPhone. Typically those type of cases add some degree of bulk to your phone, and that’s not always acceptable. Fortunately, PureGear still has an offering to cover your phone when added bulk just isn’t acceptable. Today we take a look at the Utilitarian Smartphone Support System for iPhone 4/4S. Jump past the break to find out more!
Upon unboxing, you will discover that the Utilitarian isn’t just a case, but a complete system (as the name already suggests) for your iPhone 4/4S. Inside you’ll find not only the one-piece case, but also a front screen shield with installation kit, and a belt clip that doubles as a pivoting stand. So out of the box the Utilitarian offers you a true 360-degree (back, sides, and front screen) protection for your iPhone.
Taking a look at the case itself in a little more detail, we find that it has a multi-material construction. The sides of the case are a softer rubberized material, while the backplate of the case is made of a firmer, much more rigid polycarbonate.
Installed on your iPhone, the Utilitarian case has a very good feeling fit. The soft-touch, rubberized sides are comfortable, yet grippy, allowing you a secure handle on your phone, while the rigid backplate gives structure to the case, and at the same time adding a little style with it’s grooved pattern. The rubber sides of the case do extend upward beyond the surface of the front screen, giving you good lay-on-the-table protection. The backplate has a large oval-shaped cutout for the camera and flash, and I experienced no camera flash interference while taking photos.
You’ll find complete coverage for all of your buttons (sleep/awake and volume), as well as adequate cutouts for the vibrate switch, headphone port, and dock connectors. With the dock connector I found no trouble with docking or any of my 3rd party charging accessories, but due to the close-cut nature of the headphone opening, you may run into trouble with headphone connectors larger than Apple’s own headphone jack.
Since this is a support system, let’s take a look at the other main component of that, the belt clip/stand. The clip assembly attaches to the case by snapping into the slots provided along the sides of the case. This attachment design does allow the phone to be clipped to your belt in both a screen outward or a screen inward orientation. The clip itself is of the ratcheting variety, rotating a full 360-degrees, allowing you to position the phone in any direction (horizontal, vertical, and everything in-between) on your belt.
Unlike most clips that double as a video stand, which typically just allow the clip itself to lock in the open position, acting as a “kickstand” for the phone to lean on, the Utilitarian’s clip actually has a separate, dedicated metal kickstand for this purpose. This nifty feature, coupled with the clip’s rotating ability, give you the option to prop the phone up in either landscape or portrait orientation, and at many different reclining angles. The metal kickstand folds neatly out of the way when not needed.
Wrapping up, I think that PureGear has another great case on their hands with the Utilitarian Smartphone Support System for the iPhone 4/4S. You get a slim, stylish case that still offers a decent amount of drop protection, plus a very useful and well thought out clip/stand assembly all at a price ($29.99) that’s equal to or even lower than other companies case only offerings. My only negative regarding the case is that during my use, I saw the thin portion of case material just below the home button start to stretch and droop a bit, pulling away from the case.
In all fairness though, while reviewing a case I’m probably installing and removing it far more times than the average user would, which accelerates that stretching. And, this observation isn’t isolated to the Utilitarian alone, as I’ve witnessed it in just about every case I’ve tested that uses a softer material in this already thin area. Even with this issue in my case, I think the pros still far outweigh the cons, and I still give the Utilitarian Smartphone Support System a strong recommendation. The Utilitarian is available in 4 color options - white, black, pink, and purple.