A crash course in protective smartphone cases

A crash course in protective smartphone cases

History is littered with unfortunate incidents involving smartphones.

The slow-motion drop onto the floor of your local chippy…the toddler who knocks it off your patio furniture onto a flagstone…the sheer horror of seeing it descend into the toilet…

In such instances, protective smartphone cases would have been worth their weight in gold.

Yet many consumers refuse to sully their designer handsets with anything so common as a wraparound case – especially a third-party one.

In refusing to protect one of their most expensive possessions, these people are making a big mistake, for a variety of reasons…

To protect and serve

There’s no question that rubber or silicone protective smartphone cases are less attractive than the glass and aluminium handsets they protect.

However, they’re made out of hardwearing (if environmentally unfriendly) materials for good reason.

These materials are absorbent, meaning the energy generated by any sudden impact is absorbed around the case rather than being passed onto the handset itself.

While it offers little impact resistance, plastic cases shrug off abrasions and impacts which might crack or dent a smartphone chassis – modern handsets are often surprisingly brittle.

And although smartphones tend to have rounded edges, those that don’t (like Sony’s Xperia XZ1 range) could be badly damaged if one corner took the full force of an impact.

Plus, other objects might be damaged as well.

Wooden and even laminate floors could be dented by a sharp-edged object falling several feet from a table, out of a pocket or momentarily evading someone’s grasp.

Damage to a handset isn’t just aesthetically frustrating. It could affect usability if the screen shatters or internal components are dislodged.

It will also further lower the already-disappointing trade-in or cash price you’ll be offered for the phone once you’ve unboxed its pristine replacement.

What to look for in protective smartphone cases

Firstly, ensure any case fits your exact model of phone. Many ranges now have Pro, Compact and Plus models, whose dimensions and camera lenses vary slightly but significantly.

Secondly, look for materials which don’t compromise the aesthetics of the handset. They won’t feel as cool or tactile, but many plastic and polycarbonate cases are at least transparent.

Ideally, you want a raised lip which sits a millimetre proud of the screen, so the phone will be protected regardless of which part of its chassis hits the ground first.

Folio cases and pouches tend to be made out of leather, with a cover across the screen. These wraparound cases deliver excellent protection, albeit with limited practicality.

If you’re the sort of person who checks their phone a hundred times a day, having to flip open a cover will quickly become tiresome, and the leather hinge will wear and crack.

Conversely, don’t assume a chassis case is all you need. Because screens provide the interface between us and our handsets, they lead a uniquely hard life.

Tempered screen protectors cost more than budget plastic ones, but they repel scratches and cracks more effectively than cheaper options, while also keeping germs and bacteria at bay.

Carrying a phone in a handbag exposes the screen to all sorts of potential damage, and the same is true of placing it in a pocket with keys, coins or other sharp metallic objects.

Finally, don’t pay a premium for a protective case. These aren’t designer products, your phone won’t perform any better, and cases rarely last as long as the handsets they’re encasing.

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