The TRTL BOT Minimalist iPhone 4 Case is Eco-Friendly… But Ugly [Review]



The TRTL BOT Minimalist 4 ($30) is an eco-friendly iPhone 4 case made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. It attempts to substitute your wallet by providing a card slot on the back of the case which will house up to three credit cards, while protecting your device from scratches, scuffs and scrapes with a sturdy plastic shell that clings to the stainless steel band around your iPhone. 

The Good:

The Minimalist 4 allows you to leave your wallet at home and carry your credit cards along with your iPhone instead. It reduces the number of valuables you need to carry around in your bag or pockets and can be a life-saver to those with a tendency to leave their wallets behind on every trip.

While the recycled plastic feels brittle, it’s actually rather flexible, and no matter how much I dropped the case or tugged on its sides and card holder, I couldn’t cause any significant damage. The plastic is more likely to bend than break. The Minimalist is also very light and adds no noticeable weight to your device whatsoever.

When you slip your credit cards into the back of the Minimalist, you can be sure they’re not going to slip right back out again accidentally. The case is designed to keep your cards secure, and it does.

The Bad:

Those wishing to preserve their iPhone’s dashing good looks and elegant form factor should go hunting for another case now: the Minimalist — while practical — is very uncomfortable.

The credit card holder on the back makes your device feel thick and bulky, and as if it’s a little too big for the small, sleek device buried inside.

The sides of the case actually stick out a little further in front of your screen, and while this may offer a little more protection when dropping your device face-first on a flat surface, I personally don’t like it. I found that it makes the case more of a magnet to dust and pocket fluff, which has a tendency to wedge itself in between the gap that runs up the sides of the case.

To better explain this point, here’s a comparison between the Minimalist 4 and the Incipio Feather case I reviewed some time ago:

You’ll notice that with the Incipio case (right), the sides sit tightly against the iPhone, behind the screen, and prevent any dust from gathering between the case and your device — it also looks and feel a lot nicer, I think.


As much as I admire the Minimalist’s eco-friendly approach, I think a little more effort could have gone into its design to give it a better fit and feel. For those looking to fuse their iPhone case and their wallet, there are better, more stylish solutions than the Minimalist. Such as the Marware Glide leather sleeve.

Rating: [xrr rating = 40%]

  • thetechbuzz

    I got this from a friend and I immediately gave it back and told him, I would never ever use that piece of junk. I asked how much he paid, and he said $30. I told him he was robbed! I wouldn’t give you $5 for that!

  • briceshepherd

    As soon as I heard about this case I pre-ordered it for something like $15. I’ve had it since it first came out so I don’t remember how much exactly I paid for it, but I know it wasn’t $30 and if it was, it was worth it. As a guy who HATES to carry a wallet and only likes to carry the bare minimum in my pockets, this case is PERFECT.

    I’ve dropped my iPhone a number of times and (knock on wood) the phone hasn’t been damaged in the least. While making the phone a little bulkier than most people would like I find that the phone still slides in and out of any of my pockets with ease. All of the physical buttons on the case are still easily accessible and the case is easy enough to remove if you feel like cleaning out anything that may or may not be between the case and phone.

    I will agree that it’s not the most comfortable case when it’s against your ear, but that’s easily fixed by using an earpiece (wired or bluetooth), speaker phone, or just not holding the phone that hard against your head.

    The best thing about this case is that since having it I have not once left my house with out my driver’s license, bank card, emergency credit card, and iPhone. Also, not having to pull my phone from a sleeve is big plus. There’s no telling how many times I would have dropped the unprotected phone when taking it out of the sleeve. For me this case is EXACTLY what I needed and I would rate it at 4/5 deducting a star for the occasional discomfort when holding the phone to my ear when there’s a lot noise in the background… and for the fact that it only comes in black (at least it did when I bought it).

  • KillianBell

    Thank you for your comments — you make some really interesting points. As I said in my review, I completely agree that the Minimalist is practical, especially for forgetful types like you and I. However, I do believe that with a bit more effort, its design could be greatly improved.

    Take a look at this Speck case, which boasts a far more appealing design and looks a lot more comfortable:

    Or this Case-Mate one, which proves you can have the same design but much more streamlined:

  • theonlycog

    surely there is a danger of the phone wiping the data on the credit card? (on the magnetic strip for example)

  • Halli620

    That was very unhelpful. What made it so bad? Can you please provide some description? Thanks.