Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why it's important to put a case on your $500+ phone

This is was an iPhone. It is broken. Why is it broken? Probably because the owner didn't have a protective case on it. As you can see by the shards of phone surrounding the iPhone's crippled, mangled body, the front screen is made of glass. This is an EXTREMELY broken phone, but in most incidents the screen just shatters.

Welcome to the first of three installments on why you should protect your $500 phone.

The most common question I get is, "Why would I put a $50 case on a $50 phone? If I break it, can't I come back and get another one for $50?" The answer is, "No, you can't." You just signed a new 2-year contract and, if you're lucky and you pay your bills on time, you'll be eligible to get that same deal in 20 months. In the meantime if you walk out of the store and drop your phone on the pavement of the cell phone dealer's parking lot, breaking the phone, you're going to pay the full price. Lets take the iPhone 3GS for example. At the time of this article, it is $49 when you sign a new two-year agreement with AT&T. If you break it and you want to buy a full-price replacement, you're going to pay $425. Now how's that case lookin'? Find the full story after the break...

“Why can’t you sell me another phone for the same price!?” “I hate AT&T!” and “You guys are just trying to rip me off!” are common phrases I hear in my store after someone destroys their phone. Whether they left it outside in the rain overnight, ran it over with their truck, their dog ate it, or their wife dropped it in the dishwater (all true stories), people usually people blame the carrier when they break their phone into a million pieces. Well us sales people may have quotas to meet for accessories and features sold, but that doesn’t mean that when we try to sell you a case for your phone that you should refuse because we’re just "trying to meet our quotas." There’s a reason behind it! First reason being; we don’t want to be yelled at by you when you come back in after having destroyed your phone only a few days after buying it. We can’t just exchange it because you were an idiot. We can, however, sell you a full priced phone (it will cost you about $500) or you can buy a $10 pre-paid “phone of shame,” from Wal-Mart and use that phone instead. It may not have a Hemi, but it starts up.

This is the Otterbox Defender case with the
gel in one corner pulled away to reveal the
harder plastic inside.
So, what kind of a case should you put on it? Well, it’s completely up to you. Usually the more protective a case is, the bulkier it’s going to be. The Otterbox Defender case is a good example of this. This case is the most protective you can get but it’s the biggest case on the market (while still remaining in the practical size range). This case has the added benefit of having a built-in screen protector. It has a high-grade silicon outer shell, wrapped around a hard-plastic inside. It also covers up the ports around the outside so you don’t get pocket lint or purse junk stuck in the headphone jack and/or charging port. This case is awesome. It is the most expensive at $50, but it will protect it better than anything else.

The next level down in protection does not offer any built-in screen protector. These cases cover all edges and the back of the case, and leave the front open. When you get these types of cases, they are best paired with a stick-on screen protector. Examples of these cases are Otterbox Commuters, Speck Candy Shells, or Casemate Pop! cases. The Otterbox commuter is a high-grade silicon inside piece with a hard plastic shell around the outside of it. These still cover up the headphone jack and the charger and cost $40. The Speck and Casemate covers are a one-piece bendier plastic that tends to not break when you drop it. They have rubberized insides with hard plastic outsides. They also come in a ton of different colors. These, paired with a Zagg invisibleSHIELD, prove to be quite formidable against dropping and scratching.

Hard plastic clip on case for the iPhone 3GS. This is fun, but
doesn't offer any protection for the front of the phone.
The next level down in protection would be harder, non-bendy plastic shells. These often come in two pieces and slide together over your phone and the two pieces snap together to stay on your phone. There’s three common problems I’ve seen with these. One, the cases often don’t allow room for screen protectors to be applied with them, leaving your screen vulnerable to scratches or they actually ruin already-applied screen protectors. Two, the break when you drop your phone, defeating the purpose of having them in the first place. Three, if they are the two-piece interlocking kind, they often stop locking together and one of the pieces that holds the case on falls off constantly. They often look really cool, and have cool designs on them, but they just are not a good option for protection and can be frustrating.

The final level down and the least protective are “skins.” I wouldn’t even consider these to be cases… more like case substitutes. They are basically screen protectors for your entire phone. They can come in some really cool patterns, or can be completely clear like the Zagg invisibleSHIELD. These, however, are not cases. Some people slap these on their phone and then call it good. Skins protect your phone from scratching, but not from dropping. However, if you put a clear case over the skin like with the Samsung Strive in the picture to the right, it's a perfect way to accessorize your phone while protecting it.

Speck brand cases are one of my favorites. They're skinny,
have harder but still bendier plastic outsides and rubberized
insides and they're all one piece.
When it comes down to it, it’s your choice as to what you want to put on your phone, but if you are prone to dropping your phone it would benefit you to have an extremely protective case. If you’re someone who is normally good with your phone, a slimmer case will do. I never think that a $500 object that travels with you and is made of glass should go uncovered, however, so if you’re a “purist” and you don’t like having a case, I have no pity for you when you break your phone. In fact, chances are if you come in making a scene about your broken phone and it had no case on it, we’re laughing at you after you leave. After all, us sales people all have cases on our personal phones, so why shouldn’t you?


  1. Well written Rob!! :)

  2. Tell stories about people that have come in with broken phones :)

  3. Those stories are coming :-)

  4. I have found the post very useful and informative. Thank you for sharing this one. I'll continually be coming on a regular basis you just read your posts.
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