On an episode of his Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld mocks his friend Joel Hodgson for putting his iPhone in a case. Why dont you walk around with a helmet on, too?" Jerry needles. "Why dont you get yourself a big styrofoam helmet? The implication seems to be that relying on a case to protect your iPhone is a sign of weakness; if you dont live in a bubble, your precious smartphone shouldnt either.
My reaction to Jerrys case-aversion: What is the deal with that? (And Im not the only one questioning Jerrys perspective; the folks at iLounge take issue with his argument, too.)
As part of my job at Macworld, I test a lot of iPhone cases. I specialize in rugged cases and those that provide extra battery power. Ill freely admit that, before I started doing that testing, I regularly toted my iPhone around as naked as both it and I were on the days we were born.
Now that my home office runneth over with iPhone cases, however, my 4S goes starkers a lot less oftennot that theres anything wrong with that. My phone these days frequently sports either a Mophie Juice Pack Plus ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ) or the rubbery, easy-to-use, and impressively protective Cygnett WorkMate ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ). And while I love the slim sleekness of a case-free phone, I welcome the benefits that each provides.
Battery cases can be a huge boon to folks who use the heck out of their iPhones. For me, between testing apps for Macworld, getting push notifications, using location services, yada yada yadamy battery-level regularly runs down to 30 percent or less by early afternoon. A battery case might leave my iPhone feeling thick and heavy in my man hands, but it also means I can avoid the dreaded 20- or 10-percent messages of doom.
I use the WorkMate case on days I expect the iPhone will be more susceptible than usual to rough treatment. Even in my own home, Im not really master of my domain. I have three young kids, including an iPhone-obsessed 18-month-old. He can swipe to unlock, swipe to the right screen, and tap on the Duck Duck Moose game of his choosing with ease. But sometimes, when hes all done with the iPhone, he also likes to toss it across the room with all of his 18-month-old might. My iPhones real, and its spectacular, and I dont want my kids rough handling to smash its glass.
Remember the iPhone 4 antenna kerfuffle? The signal attenuation problem that cropped up when you held the phone wrong (i.e. along its naked metal edge)? At the press conference that followedthe one at which Apple offered free cases (which obviated the problem) to anyone who bought that phone Daring Fireballs John Gruber asked Steve Jobs and other Apple executives present whether they personally equipped their phones with protective rubber bumpers.
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