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What Makes an iPhone Case Protective?
Unless you have been living under a rock (please tell us where so we can join), you know you need a protective case for your iPhone. iPhones are delicate creatures. And, in the last decade or so, they have become extensions of their owners to some degree. For much of the iPhone-carrying population, the device has become a digital memory book, virtual assistant, television, computer, diary, and love letter anthology. A smartphone is also worth a month’s rent in many parts of the United States. So, it’s not surprising to see someone in the midst of a rage pause when that precious piece of tech tumbles to the ground.
Here’s just a few of our favorite personal examples:
- Slips out of back pocket and lands in the toilet - Rage Pause
- Left in an Uber with Find My Phone disconnected - Rage Pause
- Starts overheating from a faulty charge connection - Tears
- Toddler uses it as a hammer while it’s face down - Gentle Rage
- Falls off the ledge of a cruise ship a la Tanya from White Lotus - Man Overboard
There are countless ways to damage a phone as we all probably know a little too well. And, most protection plans don’t cover human error ( i.e. the main reason that an iPhone will meet its demise). That’s why even Apple sells protective iPhone cases. But, how do you, as a consumer, know what kind of case will actually protect your precious investment? For a start, the material of the case does matter. And, no tech accessories company is going to say, “our protective case doesn’t really protect your phone all that well.” So, let’s break down the most common iPhone case materials so you can decide for yourself.
- Soft, flexible and lightweight: If the phone is easier to handle, you are less likely to drop it
- Sleek: Extra bulk means extra room for human error
- The skin-like fit of the case helps protect the buttons and holes from dust and debris.
- Silicone is shock absorbent which helps protect your phone and screen when you inevitably drop it
- Water resistant: this helps protect against coffee spillage but not deep sea diving
- The material has a natural grip to it: you are less likely to drop your phone because if the case isn’t slippery
- Durable: the case, itself, won’t break if dropped . . . or thrown (no judgment).
- The lifespan of a silicone case is pretty short: the material will start to stretch over time and will no longer fit on the phone
- While it’s great at protecting your phone from debris, the case is more likely to get dirty because of the grippy material: the dirt will end up on your hands and face so your skin is not protected
- Speaking of grip, silicone cases catch onto fabric, which can increase the likelihood of you dropping your phone while pulling it out of your pocket or cloth-lined bag
- We know this is a blog about the protective function of a case, but we care about aesthetics too. And, there is very little design variation with a silicone case. We consider this to be an inability to protect your sense of style
- Silicone can chip or peel rather quickly: again, your aesthetic sensibilities are not protected
- Because the material can stretch, peel, chip, etc. you might need to replace a silicone case more often than a case made from other materials. So, this is not protecting your bank account
- Water resistant material: again, this certainly protects your phone from water damage but won’t help if you take your iPhone white water rafting
- The material has a natural grip: it won’t slide out of your hand or off of slick surfaces as easily
- Sustainable material which protects the planet so that we can all continue to find ways to protect our phones
- Not a lot of shock absorption - if you do drop your phone, it is more likely to break than if cased in another material
- Typically does not fit well around the corners so your screen is more vulnerable to cracks
- Difficult to clean - it does not protect your hands and face
- Little design variation - does not protect your sense of style
* Rubber comes up a lot in protective case discussions because of its shock absorbency, but it’s not, generally, a stand alone material for a phone case. Typically, rubber is used as a protective inner layer for cases with an outer plastic shell.
- Provides excellent drop protection for your phone and screen
- Offers a grippy surface when utilized on the exterior of a case
- If used as a secondary layer that is combined with plastic, the case tends to be more expensive
- Bulky and heavy
- Very little design variation: it does not protect your aesthetic taste
- Rubber can interfere with charging which can hurt your battery life
*There are two types of plastic that are typically used for a protective phone case: polycarbonate (PC) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). It’s important to note this distinction because they offer different benefits and disadvantages. PC is the hard stuff: it can crack or even shatter if dropped. TPU is softer and more flexible (though not as malleable as rubber or silicone).
- Both PC and TPU are lightweight and sleek
- The smooth surface is easy to clean which helps to protect your skin from germs
- PC makes design variation easy: if you want a pretty phone case, plastic is the way to go
- TPU is shock absorbent: it protects your phone and your wallet
- The surface is slick: it’s more likely to slip out of your hand or off of a counter
- PC is not particularly shock absorbent and can actually shatter when dropped
- PC can discolor over time
- Plastic is not environmentally protective
As you can see, no phone case is bullet proof. And, a lot of the information involved in choosing the right case material is a matter of preference, risk aversion, and lifestyle. While some people are great about keeping their phones safe, others are extreme sports enthusiasts or parents of small children. Some people want a protective case that doubles as a fashion accessory while others prioritize longevity and durability. We, at Sonix, are in the business of making protective phone cases, so we are consistently working to design a phone case that protects every facet of an iPhone user’s interaction with their device. To that end, here are some key points we think are worth noting when looking to buy a new case.
Key Protective Points
Drop Protection Rating
If a product is labeled as drop protection tested, it has gone through a certified testing process with rigorous requirements. Our cases are drop protection tested up to 10 feet. What this means is that we put phones into our cases and literally drop them (please note, they are dropped, not thrown) from heights up to ten feet many times, from many different angles, at different temperatures, and above many different surface materials. If the phone loses functionality before the minimum requirement of drops, the case will not be certified or rated.
The case needs to have at least one layer of a shock absorbent material. This protects not only the functionality of the phone, but it can protect the phone’s screen from shattering upon impact. Sonix phone cases are made with an inner layer of TPE (shock absorbent) and an outer layer of PC (decreases bulkiness and allows for design variation).
Raised Bumpers and Impact Resistant Corners
Cracking your phone screen is like being struck by lightning but more common: once the screen cracks, your chances of it happening again seem to increase significantly. So, you need to get out in front of that problem. Look for cases that provide extra impact protection around the camera lens and screen corners.
Apple’s latest iPhone models are internally equipped with much more water resistance (say goodbye to the days when you had to put your phone into a bag of rice and pray). But, no case is going to protect your battery from salt water or a three-day swim. However, some case designs and materials can affect the charging connectivity of your phone, which can compromise the phone’s battery. Once the battery is damaged, you can’t trade your phone in for an upgrade. If you are into Qi charging, choose a case that is MagSafe compatible. If you are a connective charging kind of person, choose a case material that does not interfere with charging capabilities.
We think having a phone case with an antimicrobial surface is crucial for protecting you in addition to your phone. Of course, many great brands offer antimicrobial protection. But, we like to toot our own horn by noting that we inject antimicrobial agents directly into the case material during production. This way, the protective factor will not fade over time.
Thanks for listening to our Ted Talk. While you’re here, you might want to take a souvenir with you . . .
If you want a protective phone case that is also a surrealist inspired art piece, Illusion is the one. Featuring a dreamy swirl of pretty pastels, clouds, and gold foil stars, this MagSafe compatible case is easy on the eyes and your phone’s battery life.
You want to protect your phone and the planet. So do we. That’s why we made this phone case out of completely recycled plastic. And, with a beautiful shade of green with textured arches, you won’t have to compromise style to contribute to a more sustainable planet.
Sure, protecting your screen from scratches is worth a few dollars, but protecting your eyes is priceless. This screen cover is thin enough to allow for uncompromised touch sensitivity while also reducing the impact that blue light can wreak on your eyes and ability to sleep.