The eternal battle between style and protection

Published by Steve Litchfield at 7:30 UTC, February 5th 2013

Shiny coloured aluminium - why cover it up?

It's an exciting day. You buy the £500 smartphone (or £40/month, depending on how you roll...) that's beautifully finished in metal, glass, chrome, ceramic, or whatever premium materials the manufacturer decided on and you fell in love with. In your hand, it feels wonderful and you're on top of the world. And then you step outside your front door and the panic sets in....

You see, most £500 smartphones won't look quite so pristine after an accidental fumble and tumble onto a pavement. Heck, most smartphones may even break after just one fall (especially if they're glass backed or cheaply built), so it's natural to want to do everything in your power to stop this encounter with gravity from taking place. 

It's all very well saying that you're OK, the phone's going to live in your pocket, where it's warm and safe - there will come a time, answering a call or switching music stations or checking a bus timetable, when you're going to have to fish out that phone while on the move. And, as Sod's Law suggests, that's when you'll be stressed, in a hurry, under pressure and you'll end up fumbling your smartphone to the ground. Trust me. I've dropped more smartphones onto concrete than I can remember (luckily, about six of these were the same Nokia N8, which is just about indestructible, though it's very battle scarred as a result!)....

Most of us pick up/take out our phones dozens of times a day. Every day. So, trying to head off the inevitable, you quite sensibly research and purchase a case for your device. That's another £20 or so then, but hey, it's money well spent and premium leather or quality neoprene. And now, if you should fumble your phone as it leaves a pocket, the case will absorb most of the shock and you'll breathe a sigh of relief rather than a cry of panic.

OtterBox Impact for N8

However... your bright, shiny, premium smartphone, with materials that the designer and manufacturer sweated buckets over choosing and crafting, is now covered in leather, neoprene or plastic. And looks nothing whatsoever like it did when you took it out of the box. Just as bad, it's now thicker and bulkier.

In fact, under all that case material, you might as well have bought something more plasticky (cough, Samsung...) and distinctly less premium, since you're not going to be able to enjoy holding the naked phone much anyway. And, if you're someone who cares about what others think of your phone choice, noone else will be able to tell what phone you've got either.

Case-Mate Tough Case

There's even a modern fashion for coloured smartphones - Nokia and HTC go a bundle here and count me as a fan - but then slap these inside a wrap-around case and all of a sudden it's just another slab of glass inside a black or grey or brown case. What on earth is the point?

It's a battle, as I say. Style vs Protection.

And there's no easy answer. I'd love your comments and solutions to this dilemma, since I'm, personally, seemingly incapable of casing my smartphones along the lines just suggested. I enjoy the feel of the naked smartphone in my hand, whether it's the stainless steel of the iPhone 4/4S, the cold aluminium of the Nokia N8 or E7, or even the slightly 'artificial' but nonetheless high end polycarbonate of the Nokia Lumia 920, 800 and the older N9. As a result, I tend to favour keeping my phone in a simple sleeve/slip case, either in a pocket or on my belt and, yes, I do risk dropping it on a daily basis every time I get the device out. So you might not want to follow my example!

What about you? Do you keep your premium smartphone in a premium case that drastically alters its premium looks? Do you value protection over style? Or, like me, do you dice with diving device death daily?(!)

I'm genuinely interested in your data point on this matter, one that affects all of us dozens of times a day.

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