There are a variety of different cases to protect your mobile products.
Last week I talked about some of the tests that are performed by Nokia
to make sure that the products they released would stand some wear and
tear. But sometimes products get damaged anyways.
I have already talked about my BlackBerry falling out of the holster
and cracking. And I do not want that to happen with the replacement
At the same time, touch screens are taking over as the common form of
user input. From the iPhone and iPod Touch, to the BlackBerry Storm, to
more than I have time to list here. And it is not easy to find good
screen protectors. Trust me, I've purchased three different kinds for
the iPod Touch because most cases do not have a screen guard built in.
And I ruined one screen on an older iPod because I carried it in the
same packet as my keys.
So how do you protect your phone from daily mishaps, like dropping or
spilling something on it, and the screen? There are two options in my
mind. Don't use the phone, or get a case. Okay, maybe only one option.
But there are so many cases out there, how can you tell which is going
to be good and which is bad? For example, I had made the safe decision
when I had a holster for my BlackBerry, and yes, this was an official
BlackBerry product so it is not like I just grabbed one at random from
the shelf. It worked well enough, but my phone still fell out of the
I have searched for quite a while for a case for my iPod Touch
(unfortunately the Curve 8900 is still to new to have many options for
cases yet. But they are starting to emerge). There were three things
that I took into consideration when making my choice, and these would
apply to the iPhone as well.
1. Must protect the touch screen
2. Need access to the buttons, headphone jack, and connector
3. Must be small
First, touch screen protection. I have put on the screen guards a few
times now. Invariably there is a spec of dirt or dust somewhere which
causes the screen to have a slight bump. Nothing that really affects
the ability to see the screen, but something that bugs me none the
less. As well, it is difficult to tell if the protector is just big
enough to cover the screen itself or if it is going to cover further.
Second, access to the inputs and outputs. I returned the first
generation touch two weeks after buying it because I found out that the
second generation was going to have volume controls. By using a case
that covered these buttons it would defeat the purpose of having them
in the first place. As well, having to remove the iPod from the case to
charge it or download content is a pain and will increase the
likelihood that it will be damaged.
Finally, small size. As I have a BlackBerry and badge to get into work
on my belt adding more things would start making me look like I had a
Batman utility belt on. So I carry my touch in my pocket. If the case
is too large then it does not make things comfortable.
The case that I am currently evaluating is the OtterBox Defender series
for the Apple iPod Touch. This same case is available for the iPhone as
well. The way the case works is two fold. First there is a hard plastic
shell that you put the device into. This clicks closed to secure the
iPod. There is a plastic membrane that covers the screen while still
allowing full touch access. After the shell there is a silicon skin to
protect from impact. Interestingly, it is actually easier to push the
buttons when the case is on than when it is off. The volume controls
and power button slightly protrude and are very responsive.
As with any case, there is some added size to the device. The
dimensions are increased to approximately 120cm high by 70 cm wide by
17cm deep. While this is a bit larger, it is still not excessively so.
But with the silicon surrounding the case still feels comfortable.
The only drawback is the screen protector. While it is great that the
protector is part of the system and prevents contaminants from getting
under the screen, which happened every time I applied a stick on cover
it does create bubbles when pressure is applied. Unfortunately the
bubbles can not be smoothed out or removed and the only way to get rid
of them is to take off the silicon and open the plastic shell. But they
will reappear the next time you use the iPod.
For the iPhone there is a clipstand holster included so that if you
want to put it on your belt you have the option.
Overall, the OtterBox Defender case is very good, with the bubbles on
the screen being the only negative. It is a solid, comfortable case
that does not add too much bulk to the iPod while still giving access
to all of the controls and protecting it from dirt and impact.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.