PHOENIX - So, you've finally decided to take the plunge and drop a few hundred dollars on a brand new shiny smartphone. Now it's time to figure out a way to protect your "precious" new tech toy. With screens made of glass and replacement prices above $400, dropping your phone and buying a new one isn’t exactly something you would want to do. So, what case do you get? I’m going to take you through some of the various options on the market.
Basic screen protection
I’ll start with the least amount of protection. The first thing many people want to do is protect their screen against scratches. Zagg is one of my favorites for this. It's one of many companies that offer clear plastic anti-scratch film that adheres to your screen without using glue. You can remove it at anytime without leaving a film. If you plan to do it yourself, have some patience and take your time. Attaching one of these protective coverings without getting bubbles or dirt trapped in between the film and your screen can be difficult. Personally, I leave it to the pros. Companies like Ghost Armor have kiosks at the mall where workers will sell you the film and install it for you. It will cost a bit more but from my experience these guys know exactly what they’re doing. This is basic protection but for some people who prefer to leave their smartphone “naked”, it’s a good option to protect the screen.
A notch above simple screen protection is the bumper case. I’ve only seen these available for the iPhone 4 because of its unique square shape but you may be able to find bumpers for your smartphone. It provides basic protection around the edges of the phone but leaves the front and back open. This is a nice option if you’re looking for some protection against drops but want to keep the main surfaces clear. With that said, it doesn’t provide much protection to either surfaces. It’s better than nothing... but barely.
Soft shell case
Next up, the soft case. I tried out one from a company called Rearth . Their case is called the Ringke . It’s made mostly of a silicone substance that can easily bend but is designed to form fit your phone. It’s very easy to pop this case on and off of your smartphone. It doesn’t add a lot of thickness or weight to your smartphone. I really like the feel of the Ringke case. Rearth says they “surface etch” the outside of the case. I don’t know what surface etching is but I like it. It doesn’t feel like cheap rubber. My only complaint is that while it provided a snug fit, it’s a bit loose around the edges.
This case is perfect for someone looking for an inexpensive custom case that provides good protection against scratches and minor drops. It’s also great for someone who plans to remove and re-attach their case on a regular basis. I’m worried that over time the case would loosen if you re-applied it often. While Rearth does sell a great kit ($20.99) that includes a screen film, a headphone plug and the Ringke case, the case alone ($16.99) does not provide any screen protection. Anyone looking to add a splash of color to their phone will love the Ringke case, it’s available in over 10 different vibrant colors.
Hard shell case
If you’re looking for something as simple as the soft case but with a touch more protection, consider a hard shell case. I tested the Feather Ultralight Hard Shell case from Incipio . It’s made of a super thin plastic that seems to weigh almost nothing. It snaps firmly onto your phone. Once in place, it’s clearly not going anywhere. Like the soft case, the Incipio case does not add much bulk or weight to the phone. The Incipio case also doesn’t wrap around the top and bottom of the phone as much as the Ringke case so you get a touch less protection there. None the less, it feels solid and does a good job without taking away from the touch and the feel of the phone itself.
The Incipio Feather Ultralight Hard Shell case is perfect for anyone who wants to buy a thin light case and leave it in place. It will also leave the face of the phone open so you will want to consider a screen protector along with the Incipio case. You’ll pay a bit more for this case, the Incipio feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case sells for $24.99 and comes in a variety of sleek colors.
Soft shell / hard shell case
Sedio takes it up one notch with a combination of both the soft case and a hard shell. It’s called the Sedio Active X. It consists of two pieces, a silicone soft case and a hard shell that clamps on top of the silicone case. It took a bit more work to get both pieces on the phone but once it was clamped in place, it felt nice and snug. As you would expect, the Sedio Active X adds more bulk than the previous two cases but also seems to provide more protection. I liked the snug fit of the Sedio although it does take away from the slim sleek feel of your smartphone. It’s time make a decision, form over function? I’ll let you decide.
The Sedio Active X case is perfect for someone