Review: Griffin ClearBoost iPhone Case

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I am more than willing to suspend my disbelief in all manner of situations. I, for example, still believe that my family and wife love me and that the world is not colluding to to kill me. I believe that what I am writing now matters, to some degree, and that it will help you in your day-to-day existence. I also believe that I will eventually return to my original college weight of 175 through liberal application of sparkling wine and chili. I may delude myself, but my delusions are not harmful.

Sadly, this is not the case with the Griffin ClearBoost iPhone case. This is a hard case with screen protector sticker and, I’m sad to say, a bit of metal that symbolizes one of the greatest scams perpetrated on mankind since the Kennedy assassination.

As a case I’m happy to report that the ClearBoost does everything as advertised. It encloses your iPhone in hard plastic and keeps it from breaking or scratching at inopportune moments. That, alone, might be worth $20.

Griffin has decided to add a cellboosting “technology” to this case, however, which knocks it up to $29. This is like adding paper wings to a cow and selling it for a million dollars. Scammers have been selling these “cell boosters” since the first Nokias crawled out of the pre-mordial soup and I recall one friend whose mother sent him a harmful EMF wave eating ladybug that he stuck against his phone to boost the reception and prevent brain cancer. While I cannot report definitively on the cancer (he’s OK now, but who knows about next week?), many tests have proven that putting a sticker on a radio does not improve reception.

Take this excellent quote from an excellent article on the topic:

Based on my testing, and the antenna theory as presented by the experts, cellphone antenna booster stickers do not work as advertised.

Based on their marketing techniques, including the imaginary or unverifiable “experts” stating they work, it’s my belief antenna booster stickers are a scam.

Pretty definitive, right? Now Griffin is a good company. I mean them no ill-will. They’ve been putting out good to great products for years and I’m sure someone in marketing was got the old snowjob on this product and is probably going to start kicking him or herself once folks figure out what’s going on here. Here’s a video purporting to offer proof:

Fair enough. Put case on, numbers go closer to zero, right? In my highly unscientific testing, however, I found the exact opposite. The first picture is with the case installed:
103 0038
The second photo is with the case off:
IMG 1721

Each time I put on the case, the numbers went “up,” presumably meaning signal strength degraded. At best this test can show inconclusive evidence that the case works to boost signals. This explains the phenomenon with some clarity. Basically, higher negative numbers are worse than lower ones and, as we see, these number consistently were “worse” with the case on, suggesting some sort of interference.

This case contains a sticker. It is made of metal. It does not boost your signal. However, it is a nice case and if you snip off the useless antenna — which, I happily discovered, contains some metal and is not simply there for show — you’ve got something quite nice.
IMG 1725
I’m no radio engineer, but I can state that based on testing and research that this signal booster does not work. Heck of a nice case, though.

UPDATE – Peter and I just did a little test with the Griffin ClearBoost case on an unadulterated AT&T iPhone. The results, while far from conclusive, showed that with the case on and your hand over the antenna, near the bottom of the unit, the ClearBoost case allowed the phone to maintain a fairly strong signal. This does not mean you’ll have better call quality or faster Internet, per se, but it does mean that the ClearBoost is doing something to improve cell tower reception.

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