My first case was a Sena Cases black leather sleeve designed for the iPhone 4.
Pros: Very thin with no bulk. Stylish. Some protection for the screen, which no clamshell does. Slides in and out well.
Cons: Not as strong as a clamshell. Does not slide in and out well if iPhone also has a product like Zagg Invisible Shield on it, as mine does.
Because of the shield issue, I've been mainly using a Lowe Pro semi-hard zip case. It's the Volta 20 model, in either black or grey. Just tall enough to hold the iPhone. Zipping is a bit tight at first but is no problem now after some use.
Key change factor: Does not disturb the shield, even during the initial application period for the shield. This also applies to the body warmth in pants pockets which otherwise has melted several shields on me. :(
Otherwise the tradeoffs vs the Sena case or a clamshell are what we would expect. Some bulk with the case, but OTOH it can fit a stylus and maybe other small objects inside. All-around protection but probably not like hard plastic.
Edited by WindChill - 3/12/12 at 7:28pm