Despite being invaluable (and often inseparable) companions nowadays, smartphones remain surprisingly fragile.
Manufacturers make bold claims about Gorilla glass and toughened chassis materials, and most modern smartphones are suitable to use in the rain or in dusty work environments.
Yet those stylish metal and glass frames come at a cost – particularly in terms of the thin bezels wrapping around today’s phone screens.
These materials have little flexibility, so dropping them even a few feet onto an equally unyielding surface may cause the screen to crack into a spider’s web of shards.
And while that doesn’t render the device unusable as a phone, it’ll certainly prevent gaming (or potentially even typing), depending where the worst damage has occurred.
Screens are the obvious weak point, but damage to the phone chassis is unsightly too.
A drop or dent might prevent peripherals like headphone jacks and charging cables from plugging in. Damage to the camera housing may even prevent you taking pictures.
Some people accept phone damage as an unavoidable necessity, but there is a partial workaround.
Smartphone cases help to keep phones in optimal condition, bringing a number of advantages:
- Increased usability. First and foremost, a phone with a pristine screen will be far more tactile and useable than one whose display has fragmented
- Improved longevity. Few people put up with a spider’s-web screen long-term, potentially hastening a device’s replacement and bringing forward the cost of a replacement phone
- Better condition means higher value. An undamaged handset could be described as being in great condition when trading it in for a new device, boosting its resale value
- Improved grip. While glass and plastic finishes look stylish, they’re often slippery. A rubberised case is far easier to handle, especially in wet conditions
- Greater peace of mind. With so much else to worry about in daily life, not panicking about a phone falling out of your trouser pocket slightly diminishes day-to-day stress.
Case for the defence
Of course, smartphone cases bring their own drawbacks.
They’re rarely things of beauty, and by definition, they tend to obscure either the sleek design or the tactile materials used to construct today’s handsets.
(For show-offs, that might be an unbearable prospect.)
Certain cases slow the speed at which wireless charging takes place, while increasing the temperature the device runs at. Neither of these is ideal.
Nonetheless, with internet retailers advertising smartphone cases which cost less than a pound, there’s no reason to leave a phone at the mercy of the fates.
Even a handset with IP68 resistance, protected against dust and water ingress, could be damaged by being dropped onto a flagstone floor or left in direct sunlight over several hours.
If you’re not in need of a rugged smartphone (which we recently reviewed here), a cheap case could extend a handset’s lifespan – and even increase its practicality.