Give my cell a case
January 8, 2012 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I've recently gotten a smart phone. As it's the first real investment I've made in a phone, I'm already thinking of how I can avoid the pain of having it get cracked, stepped on, dropped or rolled over.

In terms of protecting cell phones, I'm not understanding how people keep their cells from getting damaged. I can see these hard and soft shell cases that clip on the cell's body. They don't cover the cell screen, which seems to me to be the most likely place for it to get damaged.
I'm envisioning some type of carbon fiber type container with a flip lid over the face of the cell. You could leave the cell in this container for extended periods, flip the lid to use, with a belt loop for carrying it around.
Given I have a fairly active lifestyle at work and play, I can easily envision some kind of crush or bump that totally hoses my phone on its vulnerable face.
I'm going to put the phone into a body glove case for protection which certainly helps to prevent accidental drops, still it doesn't cover the screen. When I'm transporting the cell, carrying it around, putting it into a bag or carrying it on a belt, I've got a soft bag/pouch, which seems kind inadequate for providing a shell that's proof against typical crushes or accidental bumps.
I'm wondering if anyone has any examples of a cell phone case that provides full structural protection yet is wearable and usable. My Otterbox certainly does the trick but isn't exactly wearable.
posted by diode to Technology (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just a tip, but if you want to protect your phone then download an app that will track down your phone if you ever lose it. It's seriously such a terrible feeling when you lose something that's so expensive and useful. It's also very easy to do this, especially when you move around a lot and are frequently going from place to place!

P.S. I know that this doesn't help in terms of finding a good case for your phone, I just wanted to recommend this to you because I didn't realize the importance until I lost my phone.
posted by sincerely-s at 5:58 PM on January 8, 2012

if your phone has a strap hole, i've been saved several times by my cell-phone strap. Otherwise, keeping it in my pocket has also kept it safe. You tend to avoid glass-etching scrapes when your leg is implicated. There are flip cases, though.
posted by rhizome at 6:02 PM on January 8, 2012

insure it. If it's an iPhone, get the AppleCare warranty. If it's something else, see if your insurer or carrier provides coverage, perhaps as part of a computer rider.
posted by Mad_Carew at 6:05 PM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I use a rubber case that surrounds the non-screen parts of the phone. The great thing about this case is that the rubber protrudes something like 1/8" or 1/16" from the screen on all sides, so even if I were to drop the phone face down, the screen still won't make contact with the ground. My case is one of the more low-profile ones I've seen, too.

That said, of course something could happen that would break the screen anyway. Like maybe I could step on it or something. Or it could get run over by a car. But basically I'm nominally careful with my phone and thus none of this has happened.

Honestly, in my experience they're relatively durable objects.

Also don't wear your phone in a holster around your belt. You're not that busy.

I don't find that I have a problem with breaking the screen when I put my phone in a bag, my pocket, etc. They're really not that delicate.
posted by Sara C. at 6:05 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have exactly the type of case you're describing - Reiko "leather" iPhone case. I got mine for $7 from a street vendor in NYC. It has a belt clip which works really well, although I usually carry it in my purse. My phone looks almost brand new, and I've had it for three years. When I had a Palm, I carried it in a side-flip carrier like the ones on this page, and it also looked new when I gave it up.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:08 PM on January 8, 2012

Lame - the leather iphone case link should go here.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:09 PM on January 8, 2012

I've used flipper cases with both of my iPhones, and have been really pleased. I've used a couple of different cases, but I've been most happy with this Sena Magnet Flipper. The leather is top quality and wears well. I've dropped my phone many times with no damage.
posted by kimdog at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2012

Not suggesting you do this, but I don't use a case at all for my iphone. The gorilla glass is very tough, and I have dropped my phone quite a few times. So you might be overestimating how prone to damage phones are in general. If you have a decent case and a screen protection, your phone should still be pristine in a couple years when it's time to upgrade.
posted by skewed at 6:27 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

To me, the biggest issue with the iPhone 4 is that it's the slipperiest piece of technology ever invented. I wanted a case that's small and will keep me from dropping it in the first place. I use a Griffin rubber sleeve:

It won't protect it if you throw it against a wall, but it will keep it in your hand. When you set it down it stays put too. It's low profile, and I rinse it off with soap and water every couple weeks if it gets dusty. I love it.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:28 PM on January 8, 2012

Yes, insure it. Our phones are insured with a cheap rider to our renter's insurance.
posted by crabintheocean at 6:29 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have no opinions on coverings as I find they distract from the tactile pleasure of handling my phone however, I've found that they are actually amazingly durable without them.

I resold my first iphone in excellent condition for $500 and it had survived 2 years of pockets with keys, small kid play and generally living in the bottom of my handbag junk. We dropped it fairly often without issue. My second iPhone has not faired so well but that was a result of a spectacular drop kick across the street - oops. I've cracked the screen all the way across the bottom and there's tree in the top corner - but this hasnt affected the operation or screen visiblity and I now consider it a anti-theft feature.

I have no fears going case-less except for water, and there is no case that will protect against that - except maybe that "driPhone" case.
posted by jacanj at 6:38 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really, really love the Otter Box Defender for both iPhone and the Galaxy. I use them personally and have turned my friends on to them. Everyone likes them. They are tough and, really, for all the protection they offer, are not so bad looking.

I learned about them from the mobile automotive services folks I know who need their gear to be as tough as possible. The Otterbox for the iPad is great, too.
posted by bz at 6:46 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Even the water may not be the worst thing, jacanj. I dropped my 3GS in a puddle recently. It was fully immersed for at least a couple seconds, and suffered no ill effect.
posted by Pomo at 7:08 PM on January 8, 2012

I have an Otterbox Defender too, and there is a plastic cover over the screen. I am lethal to phones but this has worked great for a year now!
posted by The otter lady at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2012

Otterbox Defender. Amazing.
posted by bryanthecook at 7:26 PM on January 8, 2012

Admittedly, I'm not hard on phones (front pocket is a safe place), but I've used Zagg screen protectors (3M urethane film) on a few phones. They change the screen texture and gloss slightly, so not everyone likes them. They keep me happy, though, and when the phone is about nine months old and the screen protector has started to get noticeably old, I just peel it off. Then it feels like a new phone with a fresh, glossy screen and, by the time I've done any damage to it, the phone is old enough to be recycled and replaced.
posted by introp at 7:28 PM on January 8, 2012

My husband and I held off on getting iPhones because he tends to destruction-test everything he owns, whether he means to or not. So we spent a couple of years getting by with lower-tech, sturdier phones until he discovered the Ballistic Hard Core case. It's got two layers and completely covers the screen. Not waterproof, but certainly water-resistant (and beer-splash resistant, as we've discovered). We've each dropped our phones several times on hard surfaces, sometimes while moving, without harm to the phone (his case has developed a small flaw in the screen protector, but hey, that's what it's for).
posted by Lexica at 7:35 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good to know, Pomo. I'll still keep my container of rice at the ready though.

My sis-in-laws new rule: don't let toddler look at new expensive phone when on a ferry - especially as he likes to throw things.

Sometimes phone safety is just thinking through the worst-case-scenario of your activity with it.
posted by jacanj at 8:38 PM on January 8, 2012

Seconding Otterbox, Otterbox, Otterbox, Otterbox and all the various Otterbox products. They've saved me a fortune in damage avoided to several devices.

posted by rokusan at 8:43 PM on January 8, 2012

A friend of mine just the other day accidentally slammed a car trunk full-force onto his Otterbox-encased phone and said the phone was absolutely fine. I've had one on my own phone for a few months now and it is indeed very robust.
posted by Nedroid at 8:56 PM on January 8, 2012

I have a 1 year old, a 5 year old, and an iPhone in an Otterbox Defender. The phone has survived all kinds of unspeakable insults with nary a scratch or flutter. Your question has an answer, and the answer is OTTERBOX.
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

This Tank case has an interesting screen protection system, but I haven't used it personally.

I had a used old iPhone 3 for a few months out of a case and was somewhat careless with it at times, including some drops, and it's still fine. In fact, I peeled off the plastic screen protector because it made the screen image less sharp.

I've got a new iPhone now and am shopping around for a case for it because since it is all shiny and new (and as noted above, slippery!) that I am paranoid.
posted by mikepop at 8:24 AM on January 9, 2012

I highly recommend the Invisible Shield from Zagg for screen protection. I don't use a case on my iPhone - just a front and back shield - and it's still in perfect condition. I was surprised by how durable the iPhone is, as others have mentioned. It's not going to get scratched in your pocket or purse, and the screen won't shatter unless you really hurl it at the floor.
posted by spectacularicity at 9:51 AM on January 9, 2012

I've also just gotten my first smartphone, and like you I was rather paranoid. I settled on this case and I really like it. Like Sara C. said above, the case extrudes about 1/8" beyond the screen, so dropping it face down onto a flat surface doesn't impact the screen. I've dropped it probably 5-6 times in the last 2 months, no harm done. My only complaint is that the silicone liner tends to attract pet hair (I have four pets) but that just means blowing it off once in awhile.
posted by desjardins at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2012

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