One thing that won’t have escaped anyone’s attention about Apple products since the days of the early iMacs and iPods is that they are pretty. Jonathan Ive has been shaping the look of these gadgets for a long time and is still making them extremely desirable just form their look. Design is very important of course, and needs to be blended with equally good functionality. This is why I believe Apple products do so well.
However, one problem with having such lovely design is how to keep it looking lovely. For example, my 3rd Generation iPod has a shiny chrome back cover, which suffers enormously from smudges, scratches and generally getting bashed about. I keep it in the case it came in, but somehow even sliding it in and out of that has introduced wear and tear. Of course, it is a good few years old now, has had new batteries (see my article about replacing an iPod battery) and gets used almost every day. It is bound to suffer wear and tear, and I should expect no less.
The problem has moved on now though, as I also have my iPhone to protect. There are literally hundreds of cases designed to look after your iPhone, and some are remarkably expensive affairs by comparison to others. The ones I’ve seen or used include wallet type ‘fold over’ where you slot the phone in the top and there is a front flap which opens and closes like a book to reveal the phone controls, clear plastic cases that snap on, and various types of rubber or silicone rubber sleeves which you wrap around the phone.
The issue with the wallet type has been that the phone can easily slide out of the opening at the top since there is no strap to keep it in. Thus, casually hoding the case the wrong way up can result in a nasty fall to whatever surface is below. In Matt’s case that has been everything from carpet to concrete. Not good. They also require more manipulation to answer the phone and are much more bulky in your pocket. If, like me, you keep your phone in your jeans pocket then that’s not a good thing!
The clip on plastic covers also increase bulk somewhat, although not drastically. They do also protect the device, but they look, well, odd. It somehow destroys all of that lovely design work and you end up with something akin to a cheap underwater housing for a disposable camera. They are low cost, and they look it, too, IMO. The one exception for me *might* be the InCase ‘slider’ for iPhone and iPod touch.
So that leaves the silicone rubber covers, and at the moment that is what I’m using. There are lots on the market, some in funky colours, some with reinforced ribbing, some with built in screen protectors and so on. I’ve looked at most and discounted most. There’s even one made from a material designed to protect helicopter rotor blades whirring at high speed in a sandy environment. Nice. The one I am using is in fact very cheap and soft feeling that covers most of the phone, but not the front glass. This hardly affects the overall bulk, allows easy access to the controls and essentially is just plain black. It looks smart to me. I also cover the glass with a stick on screen protector (around £3.00) which is probably overkill, but I feel better about keeping my phone in my pocket with these sorts of things on. The touch screen operation is not affected in any way by such a protective cover.
The only downsides I can find are that the rubber material doesn’t slide easily over cotton and thus getting the phone out of a pocket invariably brings the pocket inside out with it! I also have two rather large holes on the iPhone itself – the headphone socket and the dock connector – and these are susceptible to that dreaded of all afflictions – pocket fluff. No matter how clean your garments, fluff collects in the pockets! The worry is that the fluff will lodge in the sockets on the phone and prevent them working as they should.
So far, one month later, that hasn’t been an issue, thank goodness.
Phone covers are pretty personal things, and different people will want different ones. I’ve found the rubber cases to be better for lots of reasons than the leather wallet types, but I guess you’ll have to make up your own mind. For what it’s worth, I spent less than ten pounds on a rubber case and a screen protector film. I’m happy with the protection, knowing I’ll never use the phone as a helicopter rotor blade, unless in some MacGyver moment I am thrown into a survival situation and that’s what I need to do to escape. Alernatively, I’ll just ring for help…