About an iPhone Case: A Personal Story

March 17th, 2010

Let me state from the outset that I’ve never owned an iPhone that arrived in defective condition or developed a defect after heavy use. Unless heavily abused, I expect them to last a fairly long time, other than, of course, the battery. But since most of you probably swap your mobile phones every couple of years anyway, maybe longevity isn’t a deciding factor.

While I realize some of you keep your handheld gadgets in pocket or purse without the safety net provided by some sort of case, I’m sure loads of those accessories are sold. A number of manufacturers are involved in that business, and each of them provide a rich selection of cases and screen coverings.

In light of the report that Apple may be cutting out screen protectors from their retail outlets because they create their own complications if not fitted properly, I got to thinking of my recent efforts to get a slim, secure case with a belt holster, and there aren’t too many of those configurations around.

Since getting my first iPhone in early 2008, I’ve gone through several of those cases. After six or eight months of use, something invariably breaks, usually the holster assembly from the routine process of attaching to a belt, removing it, and being moved around constantly as I go about my daily business.

I can’t say that I’m necessarily more abusive of such accessories than anyone else. I’m not engaged in heavy-duty physical labor, other than my morning exercise routine, involving aerobics and weights, where I’m not running around with an iPhone. Otherwise my working life is fairly sedentary. So I expect most of those cases, other than the ones that are especially thick and heavy, aren’t designed with longevity in mind.

I do welcome your suggestions, however, as to which one to choose next.

However, the worst situation occurred a couple of weeks ago, when I visited a nearby Apple Store to purchase a new case. The selections that include a holster were limited to two or three models. I was about to purchase one of them and placed my iPhone on a table while the clerk was posting the order on her iPhone. As she moved her hands, she apparently struck my iPhone slightly and it fell to the floor. Now my iPhones have fallen to the ground before without visible consequence. This time, the screen was cracked!

When the clerk attempted to deny responsibility, I asked to speak to her manager, who didn’t want to take the blame either. The price to get a replacement iPhone or a screen repair (my choice) was $199. I attempted to appeal to the manager’s sense of logic without result, so I placed a call to Apple’s customer service people, and asked to speak to an executive in charge of support.

No, I didn’t pull rank and tell them I was a long-time tech reporter. It was just a way to get through the bureaucracy as quickly as possible. The Apple representative asked me to describe the situation, and promised to call me back within 30 minutes. Pretty much on schedule, I got that callback, with the assurance that I could return to that store and get a replacement iPhone with the exact configuration of my original.

I still had to get an appointment at the Genius Bar, but they were evidently able to squeeze me in with only a short delay in light of the situation. When I returned to the store, I noticed that the clerk who damaged my iPhone was no longer on the floor. I do hope she didn’t lose her job as the result of my complaint, and perhaps she was only being given a cooling off period or an admonition to be more careful next time. Clearly the destructive act was an unfortunate accident and nothing more.

On the other hand, the personnel at the Apple Store in question seem to have forgotten that classic motto that “the customer is always right.” Indeed, if they were willing to accept half the blame from the outset, and asked me for $99 to repair or replace the iPhone, I probably would have considered the offer, although I have far better uses for my money, as most of you know if you’ve been following my ongoing financial soap opera.

My major concern, though, is that the companies that make those iPhone cases need to work harder to develop products that better withstand the rigors of regular use. That also applies to iPod cases. My son had a few, and none of them lasted more than a few months before we had to shop for a replacement.

Perhaps Apple should be developing its own line of such accessories. Maybe they can show those other companies the way to build a case that’s not just tough, but thin, flexible and, of course, attractive. But as I said, if any of you are aware of a better solution, count me as a willing listener.

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9 Responses to “About an iPhone Case: A Personal Story”

  1. Andrew says:

    Its not just Apple cases. I had a BlackBerry 8830 and its holsters invariably last two or three months before the rotating belt clip breaks. Like you, I am relatively sedentary during the workday, so its either my belts, my waistline (not exactly slim) or just shoddy construction. Most likely, a combination of all three.

  2. rwahrens says:

    I bought an Incase leather ‘portfolio’ that uses a leather-covered metal clip to clip it to my belt:


    I’ve had it for one and a half years, since I got my 3G iPhone, and aside from a slight decrease in the stickiness of the velcro fastener (which needs to be cleaned every month or so), it is as good at protecting my iPhone as it was in the beginning. Unless it rips somehow, I’ll probably keep using it when I get the next version iPhone this summer (assuming Apple really does upgrade as we expect).

    I’m a happy customer with this product.

  3. Andrew says:

    My current BlackBerry Storm2 is in a 2-part case. One side clips to my belt, the other stays on the phone, with the phone then docking into the belt portion. The clip should be the weak point as usual, but the case is extremely convenient to use and gives the phone some protection even off the belt. The whole thing is hard plastic, but with a rubber-like finish. I believe similar cases exist for the iPhone.

  4. dfs says:

    I’m waiting for MacWorld to bring out an issue with a feature cover story “101 i-Phone Covers” which would be entirely in keeping with the direction in which that particular mag. is heading. 😉

  5. G-Man says:

    I think this is what you’re looking for. http://retail.contourdesign.com/?/products/51. I’ve had two of Contour’s Showcase Cases. One for a 2g iphone and 1 for the my 3gs. I wanted a case around the phone at all times, but I also wanted something I could attach to my belt. The belt clip is very strong and durable. When I’m around the house I just use the case without the belt clip. I leave the phone in the case all the time. I only take it out maybe once every week or 2 for a cleaning. Some dust gets into the case because I keep it in my pocket sometimes at home. If you keep taking the phone out of the case the locking mechanism will eventually wear out. I finally broke my 2g case after a year and a half. I’ve looked at a bunch of designs and this is by far the best case I have found. I assume Contour must be selling a lot of them because the website states they are backordered. They sell them at the apple store so you should be able to find one. Lots of luck.

  6. TV says:

    there is no cool features in Iphone. Iphone software sucks cant do anything with it!! And everything opens a new program, Horrible way to make phone apps.

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