I'm not a big fan of iPhone cases. I got my free bumper because my iPhone showed attenuation when I bought it, and I'm a sucker for free stuff. The Apple bumper worked brilliantly when I dropped my iPhone on the pavement once -- it saved the iPhone from being shattered. But I use cases for specific purposes, like a bumper when I'll be walking around the city or a Mophie when I may be away from power for an extended period. So I bought the HipstaCase when we wrote it up because I wanted a stylish "case" that allowed me to mount my iPhone on a tripod. Following are my thoughts on the case after a few hours of use, plus some pictures of it in action.
Materials and Design
The case was designed by Agent 18, who do good work. That said, it's a simple thing, really -- just a plastic case with a faux camera molded onto the back. It won't offer the shock absorption you'd get from an Apple bumper, but the slot in what is molded to look like a lens is designed to help mount the iPhone onto a small U-bracket which you can add to any tripod.
It comes with a lanyard/wrist strap already installed (but removable). There's an adjustable clasp on the loop, so you can tighten it and really secure the iPhone on your wrist (for whatever reason). In my attempts to shake the iPhone out of the case, I found it was quite securely jammed in; I don't think it should worry anyone to "carry" it in such a way, but I don't know that I'd carry my iPhone on my wrist on a regular basis anyway.
After some time with the lanyard, I have to say it's one of the more compelling reasons to use this case. If you wear jeans and find it annoying to fish your iPhone out of your pocket, the strap is useful. Even in the little storage pocket in my car I found it handy to grab the strap. That's a plus, but I'm not sure it makes it worth the price.
So what about that tripod mount? It's a little piece of metal in the shape of an asymmetrical U with an extra bend on two small prongs which allows you to slip the longer end into the case and mount it on a tripod using a basic screw mount. How does it work? Eh, it's OK. The problem is that the slot on the case and the metal on the mount aren't exactly made to tight specifications, so there's a lot of wiggling going on if you move the tripod around.
If you only need the mount to work on a table or steady surface, I'm sure it'll be fine. Coupled with a timer and an app like Camera+, it works great. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any timer on the Hipstamatic app itself, which seems a bit silly since you're still going to have to "steady" the camera on your own. This is simply not a secure mount, however, so while the marketing on HipstaCase's page shows a GorillaPod, you should know you won't be able to use the full range of GorillaPod goodness (as in, don't turn this upside-down). Still, since the extended part of the U-mount is long enough, I felt pretty good about turning the iPhone on its side. At 90 degrees it was still on there, provided someone didn't wiggle it too much. It'd be nice to see a snug fit on this to alleviate fears of breakage, as the case has zero shock absorption.
The HipstaCase pretty much lives up to the somewhat derogatory term "hipster" (and yes, I realize where the name Hipstamatic comes from) -- visual flair with little substance. It's overpriced at $40 considering that the case offers little more than a loose camera mount and some style to your naked iPhone. That's all it provides, frankly. If you are a hipster and don't mind overpaying for a simple iPhone case, this is for you. Personally, I'm likely to get rid of this on eBay and just invest in another Apple bumper as it provides real protection for my iPhone. If I need a camera mount, I'll get a Glif instead.