I was home visiting my family and was pleased to see that my cousin was given a brand new iPhone 3GS as a graduation gift. However, I was less than pleased to see that she had given no thought to protecting her new phone. The iPhone is a pretty sturdy device, but it’s not indestructible. I made sure she purchased two absolutely necessary accessories: a screen protector and a case.
Protect your touchscreen
The iPhone’s touchscreen is designed to be tapped with your finger, not a hard stylus, and is less susceptible to scratches than some other smartphones. Still, you may carry it around in your pocket or purse with pens, keys, and other hard objects. The iPhone’s touchscreen is not impervious to scratches and dings and there’s nothing as annoying as a scratched screen!
Privacy Screen Protector
There are many screen protectors available and a Web search on “iPhone screen protectors” will provide you with plenty of options. I prefer the Privacy Screen Protector from Accessory Geeks because it protects your screen not only from scratches, but also from prying eyes. You can still tap the touchscreen with the protector applied, but its texture feels slightly different, and it takes a little time getting used to it. It’s reusable, washable, glare-proof, and scratch resistant. Best of all, it limits the viewing angle of the screen to no more then 30 degrees from straight on. I commute five days a week and I’m in tight quarters on the train. Unless someone is looking directly over my shoulder, they can’t see what’s on my screen. Finally, the Privacy Screen Protector is less expensive than most other protectors.
Choosing the right case
There are tons of iPhone cases available and a variety of styles from which to choose. You can select from hard cases, soft cases, sports cases, leather wallet cases, and more. The case you choose should reflect how much protection you want and your own personal style. I wanted a leather case that protected my device and doubled as a wallet, but you might want something different. And don’t limit yourself to what’s in stock at your local Apple Store; their selection is limited and tends to be overpriced. This is especially true when you compare prices to online accessory stores like AccessoryGeeks.com, PielFrama.com, or GoInCase.com. Let’s take a look at some options.
Hard cases cover the iPhone or iPod touch in a durable, protective shell.
AT&T Premium Leather Sleeve
This premium Italian leather case was made for AT&T by Case-Mate and is also available on the Case-Mate Web site (case-mate.com) as the “Signature Leather Case.” However, it’s a little more expensive if you buy it through Case –Mate. This durable and attractive case offers a lot of protection at a reasonable price, especially when you consider that it comes with a clear screen protector and cleaning cloth. The case has an opening in the back for the iPhone’s camera and an opening at the bottom for the speaker, microphone, and charging cable. In addition, the touchscreen, volume controls, power button, and headphone jack are all easy to access. Finally, it’s easy to slip the iPhone in and out of the case.
Premium iPhone Leather Fashion Pouch
This case is hard, durable, and sturdy enough to protect your iPhone. It has a flap with a magnetic latch for easy, single-hand opening and closing. The case has a clip that can rotate on the back which lets you attach the case to your belt. Unfortunately, you cannot remove the belt clip, so you have to use this as a clip-on case.
This one is designed as a carrying case only. There are no openings for either the headphone jack or the iPhone’s camera. The side of the case partially covers the volume button and the bottom covers the USB charging port. You can access the touchscreen and the Home button if you flip open the cover, but you have to remove your iPhone from the case to take photos, listen to music, or charge it. Fortunately, it slips in and out of the case easily. It’s not a bad case, but the lack of access to the features described limits its usefulness.
The Slider Case from Incase is a sleek and durable case made of lightweight plastic. The exterior has a soft touch finish that feels comfortable in your hand. It features interior rubber guardrails that help protect your iPhone from impacts and scratches. The case has openings that let you access all of the iPhone’s features, including the touchscreen, power on/off button, home button, headphone jack, camera, and volume controls. There is also an opening at the bottom for the speaker, microphone, and USB charging cable. The plastic shell comes in two parts, making it easy to open and slip your iPhone in and out. My absolute favorite feature is the little “S-Stand” that comes with the case. This small, curved piece of plastic acts as a base for the case, allowing you to stand the iPhone up on a flat surface in both a vertical and horizontal position. The Slider Case comes in ten different colors; it’s a great choice for a hard shell case.
The Frame Case, also from Incase, is a durable, lightweight plastic shell with an outer rubber lining that provides a secure fit and grip. The case lets you access the iPhone’s touchscreen and has an opening for the ring/silent switch, the headphone jack, and the charging cable. The case covers and protects the volume controls and the power on/off button while still allowing you to use them. The clear plastic back panel lets you use the iPhone’s camera, but this clear plastic case was quickly coated with my fingerprints—I’d keep the wipe cloth close by. The case comes in three neon colors. I am not a big fan of plastic or rubber cases and this hybrid of the two was just not for me. If you’re interested in a shell-type case, I would recommend spending an extra five bucks and go for the Slider Case.
Sports cases are designed to hold and protect your device while you are engaged in exercise or other physical activities.
Streamline Sport Armband
Griffin’s Streamline Sports Armband is a comfortable, arm-mounted sleeve case for those with an active, athletic lifestyle. Whether you are exercising at the gym or jogging in your neighborhood, this one lets you bring your iPhone along and listen to music while you work out. The adjustable, elastic strap uses a Velcro fastener and provides a comfortable and secure fit.
The sleeve is made out of soft neoprene and includes a transparent plastic shield that protects the touchscreen but does not prevent its use. The case has openings that allow you to attach a charging cable, access the headphone jack, and press the power on/off button. Both the armband and neoprene sleeve can be hand washed in cold water and set out to dry. It is a little hard to slip your iPhone in and out of the sleeve and it does cover the outer volume controls. However, it’s an excellent sports case…you can’t beat it or the price.
High-end leather cases
These cases provide protection with a touch of class.
iPhone Magnetic Closure (wallet) case
Piel Frama’s Magnetic Closure case is shipped to you in a beautiful box and comes with a variety of extras, including a mini-bottle of leather/screen cleaner, a cleaning cloth, a removable belt clip, and a key-like tool that lets you remove the belt clip from the back of the case. The soft case is handmade in Spain by experienced craftsmen using high quality cowskin leather. The case offers excellent protection for your iPhone and comes in a variety of colors.
The case protects the face of the iPhone with a leather flap that uses a magnetic latch to stay closed. You can open or close the flap with a simple flick of the wrist. The inside of the flap has two credit card slots and a money pocket. You can put more than one card in each slot. (I carry an ATM card, credit card, driver’s license, insurance card, Starbucks card, a thick CPR card, and my monthly bus pass without any problems.) You should probably not carry metro and other cards that store information electronically. I’ve had a number of my NYC MTA MetroCards erased by the case’s magnetic latch.
The case has an opening at the bottom for the speaker, microphone, and charging port. It also has openings for the headphone jack, volume control, and the ring/silent switch. In addition, there is a small cutout hole on the back for the iPhone’s camera. The case comes with a belt clip that attaches to a knob on the back of the case. The knob can be removed from the case using the enclosed tool.
I’ve used this case for almost a year now and love it because I no longer have to carry a separate wallet and my iPhone. I can even use the case as an iPhone stand at the office by folding the cover flap back behind the case. Sure, Piel Frama cases are more expensive than others, but you get what you pay for. I can’t tell you how many compliments I have received about it.
iPhone Horizontal Pouch
This one is of similar quality to the Piel Frama’s wallet case described above, but serves a different purpose. It’s designed primarily as a carrying case that is worn at the hip. When you want to use your iPhone, you remove it from the case. The iPhone fits easily in the case and the magnetic latch on the cover flap makes it easy to open and close. The pouch provides excellent protection for your iPhone and comes in a variety of colors.
The pouch has an opening on one end for the iPhone’s charging cable and another at the opposite end for the headphone jack. You can listen to music when your iPhone is in the case, but there are no cutouts in the case for the volume button and ring/silent switch. (However, I was able to adjust the volume by pressing the volume button through the leather.). On the back of the pouch is a rotating clip used to attach the pouch to your belt but it cannot be removed. I prefer Piel Frama’s wallet case which lets you access all of the iPhone’s features without removing it from the case. But if you don’t mind removing the iPhone from the case to use it, the Horizontal Pouch is an excellent solution.
Find the case that’s right for you
A wide variety of cases are available so try out as many as you can until you find the one that’s right for you. If you can, go to a store that has them on display. Slip your iPhone into the case; hold it in your hand; see how it feels. It took me a while to find the Piel Frama wallet case, but the effort was worth it.
I would like to thank the folks at Accessory Geeks, Incase and Piel Frama for providing me with samples for this article. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch case or accessory that you would like me to review, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tiko Fold Travel Phone Stand
The Tiko Fold Travel Phone Stand is an extremely lightweight and portable stand for your iPhone, iPod touch and other portable devices. It makes it easy to use your iPhone on planes, trains, at your desk, or at the small tables found at Starbucks. It collapses flat and is small enough to slip into your shirt pocket, computer bag, or purse. It folds out into a device stand with nine adjustable viewing angles and can hold your iPhone or iPod touch in either the vertical or horizontal position. It’s a great way to view and use your iPhone when you’re on the go.