The iPhone case frenzy has officially become retarded, thanks to entries like Snow Peak’s new titanium cover. Not only does it come in at $120, but it degrades cellular reception.
But it’s the desire to encase every gadget in plastic or metal that has us really confused, and it’s a bandwagon we found ourselves on after we replaced our 2G iPhone with a 3GS. Previously, we never seriously thought about getting a case for any of our devices, from prior cell phones to notebook computers. We did at some time use cell phone holsters, but never a full case. Why add unnecessary bulk to a device that’s already not too comfortable in a front pocket?
Apple’s changed their iPhone design to make cases less important, but people don’t seem to get this. From Gizmodo’s report on the aforementioned Snow Peak cover:
The cover slides on the back and is designed to protect the glassy exterior from scratches, dents and dings.
The whole point of the glassy exterior of the iPhone, outside of an aesthetic design note, is that glass doesn’t dent or ding. So really, what these cases do is protect the glass from scratching 1, which while possible, is much less likely than if the exterior were made of plastic or metal. Really, the only areas of the iPhone 4 that can get dinged or dented are the antenna and plastic around the edge of the device. Apple’s so confident that typical use-induced abrasions are a non-factor with the iPhone 4 that their official “case”, the iPhone bumper, adds minimal bulk by merely elevating the glass exterior a small amount from any surface the iPhone is set down on. Arguably, the bumper does more to combat people’s antennagate conspiracies than serve as actual protection for the device, because the latter isn’t much of a concern. Who’s setting their iPhone down on sharp, jaggy surfaces, anyway?
We didn’t buy a case for our iPhone 4. We did get the free bumper, and did use it for a short while. Ultimately, we took it off because the bumper made docking the iPhone more difficult in our car, and ultimately we remembered what we did with our iPhone 2G: keep the phone in a microfiber pouch. It’s a pouch we scavenged from an old pair of Oakley sunglasses, and the pouch keeps the iPhone mostly smudge-free. When that cleaning doesn’t happen automatically, at least we have a microfiber cloth on-hand for dealing with that, and it’s also useful when we’re out and about with our sunglasses that also tend to get dirty. The best part is that this adds even less bulk than the bumper, and it’s far more useful.
Some will argue that iPhone cases also protect the iPhone’s glass surfaces from getting cracked. We maintain that nearly any accident that would crack the iPhone’s backside would still happen with a case on, as the case might be if something rolled over the iPhone or fell from an extreme distance. Our own iPhone 4 has, unfortunately, fallen several times, as phones are wont to do. Regardless of whether the impact was carpet or tile, the iPhone remained mostly unscathed, with a dent along the top edge the only reminder of our clumsiness. ↩