Sunday, May 27, 2012

To Case, or not to Case?

To "case" or not to "case"?  That is the question that a few hundred million people have to ask themselves each year, in relation to whether to protect their new smartphones.

The case for a case

The stance to put a protective case on a smartphone is generally taken by those who view the risk of damage as a losing proposition.  These folks fear that they will inevitably drop the phone with such destructive force that it will suffer damage from which operation cannot continue, generally, in the form of a cracked touchscreen, as seen below.
iPhone 4 - cracked front.  Works, but is a challenge.

It should be noted, however, that a smaller portion of the "cased" crew prefer to use a covering for their phone to express their sense of style, taste, or distinction.  Sometimes their sense of "good style" is debatable.
Personalized cases abound - but they aren't always elegant.

The case against a case

Many smartphone users choose to leave their phone in its natural state, unblemished by plastic housing.  Their primary concern may be appearance of the phone, and a secondary appearance is any cruft (crumbs, dirt, sand) that become trapped between the phone and the case, often still visible to the user.

Oakley’s ridiculous iPhone case: "If you’re ready to go mobile with some style, this is the case you’ve been looking for."  Are you JOKING?!

It should be noted that a huge savings in thickness presents itself, and the resulting pocketability (insertion and removal from pants pockets) is undeniable -- often the reduced pocketability is the number one concern of case users (citation needed ;-).  Pocketability is determined both by the ratio of thickness of hand + phone to the size of pocket entrance, as well as the materials used, and their static coefficient of friction.

The case for an anti-case: BEZL

A new 'case' is on the block and serves to address both the visual signature as well as usability and protection aspects of case debate.  The BEZL is a set of four corner bumpers that protect the phone when dropped onto flat surfaces, such as countertops, flooring, and parking lots.

Aesthetically, it's the most unique case I've seen, in that it expresses some appreciation of the beauty of the phone design itself, as well as protection from drops, while retaining ease of use (finger swiping between any two phone edges, and pocketability).  I believe there's plenty of room for phone personalization, between the empty back of the phone which could hold a graphic layer, and the bumbers have room for symbols and bedazzling, as desired. ;-)  Here's a product video:

Drop test of the prototype - I hear that Jos has dropped it over 20 times onto concrete, much to the surprise and slack-jaw of the Apple store employees!

Here's the application of the adhesive bumpers:

Go get a BEZL!

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