The Pros and Cons of Flair for Your Phones

The Best iPhone Cases | CorporetteDo you jazz up your iPhone or Android with a fashionable case, ringtones, and more?  Do you think there are pros and cons to doing so?  Reader M wonders what the best iPhone cases are, but I think there’s a broader question here.

I am planning on buying the new iPhone but don’t know what case to get. I thought a post on the best iPhone cases that are also fashionable would be timely. My current case for my iPhone was inexpensive and it shows. Not only is it falling apart but it essentially makes the flash feature unusable which means taking pictures with it is not an option most of the time. I don’t want to make the same mistake the next time around.

Interesting question.  We’ve talked about the best apps for phones before, but we’ve never talked about “flair,” which I’ll use in the same way the movie Office Space uses when referring to the buttons Jennifer Aniston’s character is supposed to wear to jazz up her waitressing uniform

Personally, as mama to a two year old, my sexy, slim little Samsung Galaxy S4 quickly got covered up in the big, bulky Otterbox Defender case.  Sigh.  But it’s been thrown, dropped, and more, and the S4 keeps on ticking.  I was concerned about functionality — in my old Samsung I used two batteries, swapping out one whenever I was running low on juice — the Otterbox generally makes that (and cleaning the phone) a huge pain. Fortunately, the S4 charges very quickly; I also bought an external battery.

In general, though, I think the main considerations for an iPhone case would be:

a) functionality — a case that prevented/inhibited my use of the camera would be a no go

b) protection — phones are expensive!  Even people without toddlers drop their phones and have accidents.

c) happiness — maybe this sounds lame, but if I were to go for a fashionable, fun case, I would want it to make me happy every time I looked at the phone.  Ditto if I were into fancy ringtones.

I think professionalism/appearance DOES enter into this a bit — I might raise an eyebrow if I were working with a young woman who had a Barbie case, or a Miley Cyrus ringtone (particularly if it were playing throughout the day — I’ve always kept my phone on vibrate when working at an office), but ultimately it’s just a tiny personality quirk.  That said, I think they can be a great way to show of your personality — I would definitely think that a woman wearing the iPhone “clutch” case pictured above ($178 at ShopBop) would be a bit edgy and cool.

Readers, how did you choose a case for your phone — what factors did you consider? 

Comments

  1. I administer iPhones for my office. PLEASE, PLEASE get a case for your phone. It will protect it from breakage and make it identifiable when you leave it in the ladies room. Not that I think a professional should be carrying around a phone with a pink, sparkly or otherwise flashy case (please no Justin Bieber pics), but having a case that’s not just plain black is a good idea.

    • What’s wrong with a pink case?

    • anon-oh-no :

      my case is pink and im a biglaw partner. and i work with a biglaw partner who has a pink sparkly case that i envy.

    • My case is pink and sparkly and I’m the only female on staff in my office. No one has commented and I certainly don’t get treated with less respect.

    • professional :

      hot pink phone case. biglaw. deal with it.

    • R in Boston :

      I think you only run into trouble with something like this when you are reinforcing what people already think. A number of women at my office have patterned and/or pink phone cases and no one really notices or cares. One woman, however, is generally not taken seriously and is thought of as just hanging around until she has kids, at which point she’ll leave and be a SAHM. People have commented on her pink, patterned iphone case because they just see it as confirmation that she’s not a “serious lawyer”, even though pink phones don’t make them think that about other people.

    • This is completely unhelpful for answering the original question but after having big cases and screen protectors on previous phones, I have been carrying my naked iPhone 5 around for a year and *knock on wood* despite some drops it only has some scratches on the back, which don’t bother me. I just really liked the slim profile and lightweight feel of the phone and didn’t want to ruin that, plus I find that screen protectors get dinged up pretty quickly, so I thought I’d give it a shot as is. However I will openly admit that I baby that thing and made a sleeve for it for when I have to put it in a bag without its own designated pocket. I completely understand why cases are preferred but it works for me.

      • AttiredAttorney :

        Same here. Got a small crack in the back of the phone (hardly noticeable) last month, but otherwise, I’ve been case and damage free for about a year.

      • Turquoise :

        I love a naked phone, too. I did the pouch thing for a long time but I use it too much now. I just make sure my bags have dedicated pockets. My personal phone is a Windows phone with the thinnest of cases on it, just to protect the corners during drops. Work phone is iPhone and that one’s in a nice black leather wallet case, but I hardly ever have to get it out anyway.

        And, fwiw Pink phone cases bother me. There’s a 50-something woman in our office with a pink sparkly case and it just seems really juvenile. Although, admittedly, if she were 27 I probably wouldn’t think twice about it. I’m sure there are lots of things about me that bug people.

    • Senior associate in Biglaw and I had the hot pink Otterbox commuter case. I’ve had glittery cases, pink ones, etc. I guarantee that none of my coworkers think less of me based on my phone case (or at least, it hasn’t affected my reviews, who I receive work from, or my partner track). My phone mostly stays on silent at work, but if I forget then people near my office would hear my text tone is Chewbacca’s moan and my ring is the Game of Thrones theme song. Life is too short to give up all semblance of a personality in the pursuit of “professionalism.”

    • I have a pink case. I guess that means I’m not professional? I work with people who comment on everything and no one has ever said a word about my case.

    • Anonymous :

      So, funny story. I was at a settlement conference once with my sparkly pink encased iPhone. I was also juggling a lot of papers, and when I stood up to get something my phone fell off my lap and landed, glitter side up, on opposing counsels’ side of the table. I was the only woman of the 8 or so lawyers at the meeting and the youngest by 10 or so years; the atmosphere in general was serious. One of the lawyers on the other side handed it back kindly, and no one seemed to raise an eyebrow, but I will say it was not my proudest professional moment. I change the case right after. Though, maybe the moral of the story is font drop your phone?

      • Don’t, or course, not font. The iPhone betrays me again.

      • Anonymous funny story :

        I was at a training for a big doc review with a bunch of attorneys from several firms this past summer and right in the middle of one of the trainings, one of the partner’s phone rang and his ring tone was “Call Me Maybe.” He was at least 50. It was hilarious. As soon as he was out of the room on his phone, like half of the room just busted out laughing. When he came back, he got teased a bit. But then we all got back to business.

        I really don’t think it hurts your professional identity for people to know you have a personality.

  2. I got a plain black bumper cover for my phone after I dropped it and broke the screen. There is a little cartoon animal sticker on the back though.

  3. I prefer a slim case for my phone and would dislike something as bulky as an otterbox. I’ve had good luck with an ifrogz case despite dropping my phone and letting my toddler play with it. I have to have a splash of color so I can find it in a purse. I think there are some really pretty cases out there that show personality but are still appropriate for the conference room. Rhinestone bling appliques read a bit juvenile to me.

  4. Diana Barry :

    LOL. Never thought about a “fashionable” case. Mine is translucent and red, but I bought it for $3 on ebay.

  5. I second the Otterbox recommendation. It’s sad that my beautiful, sleek iPhone 5 is shrouded in a bulky grey case, but the Otterbox is indestructible. I recently tripped while exercise-walking and splayed into the street, landing in part on the phone in my front pants pocket. I have an awful L-shaped bruise on my thigh, but my phone didn’t feel a thing.

    • I, too, hate paying through the nose for design, and then paying more money to cover the design with ugly plastic. But I got Zagg shields for both sides of my phone; now it’s protected, but I didn’t have to frump it up with an Otterbox.

    • Maddie Ross :

      I had an Otterbox, but got tired of how big it was and switched to a “cute” glittery gold case. And then promptly dropped my phone and shattered the screen. $80 later, I now have another Otterbox. The guy at the repair place laughed at my gold “case” and mentioned how much he loves those — because it’s just more money for him.

  6. I have a plain, black Griffin case on my iPhone. I wanted something that would hide dirt and my main objective was functionality. I may jazz it up slightly when I get a new phone (in the next couple of months), but I want something I can pull out in front of clients and not feel self-conscious about.

    Threadjack:

    I am thinking of getting my SO a nice gift to mark his transition to fatherhood – something that he can either hand down to our child or that will otherwise be meaningful to him. Problem is, he doesn’t usually wear jewellery of any sort (other than a watch) so that sort of thing may not be appropriate. I’m having a hard time with this. I know I don’t have to get him anything at all, but I want to do something special because this is a big change in his life and I think it is important to mark the occasion. Has anyone else done something like this for their husband? Any suggestions?

    • Would he like a piece of artwork, or a collector’s edition of a beloved book? This is a lovely idea.

    • I had a nice plain black Griffin. It seemed to work ok until I dropped the phone and got a giant crack across the bottom of the screen near the home button. Still usable, but killed the trade-in value. Had to go buy an ugly Otterbox after that so the crack wouldn’t get bigger :(.

  7. Ack! I got moderated so am trying again. (I think it was because of the brand of my iPhone case…) Apologies if this posts twice.

    I have a plain, black Gr*ff*n case on my iPhone. I wanted something that would hide dirt and my main objective was functionality. I may jazz it up slightly when I get a new phone (in the next couple of months), but I want something I can pull out in front of clients and not feel self-conscious about.

    Threadjack:

    I am thinking of getting my SO a nice gift to mark his transition to fatherhood – something that he can either hand down to our child or that will otherwise be meaningful to him. Problem is, he doesn’t usually wear jewellery of any sort (other than a watch) so that sort of thing may not be appropriate. I’m having a hard time with this. I know I don’t have to get him anything at all, but I want to do something special because this is a big change in his life and I think it is important to mark the occasion. Has anyone else done something like this for their husband? Any suggestions?

    • You could do a nice pen, piece of art, etc. My husband got an incredibly non-traditional gift, a Big Green Egg. I doubt it will survive long enough to be a family heirloom. It’s pretty practical since we eat/entertain at home a lot more now. Most, importantly, he loves it.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I like the idea of a nice pen, or what about cufflinks? (I’m stealing a pair of my Dad’s to wear with my court robes so I think it’s something you can also hand down to a daughter)

      • I would totally do cufflinks for another man…but my SO only wears long-sleeved dress shirts about twice per year!

        He is all about the practical but usually buys himself the stuff he wants. I like the Big Green Egg idea (though I had to G00gle it!) but he just bought himself a brand new fancy-dancy BBQ this summer. Gah. He’s a tough one.

    • What about one of his favorite classic books?

      • Love the idea…but sadly, he’s not a reader. He’s a Golf, Tools and Meat kind of guy.

        • What about a nice set of tools or a fancy toolbox that he could eventually pass down to children? (Girls use tools too, and they don’t have to be pink-handled.) I don’t know how much space you have, but something like one of those big red Craftsman deals that are like human height?

        • If there’s nothing he wants or needs, or you have to think really hard about something he’d enjoy or find meaningful, why do a gift? It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not a required gift-giving occasion (if such a thing even exists). Can you mark the occasion without giving a physical gift?

        • Some folks will think I am crazy for suggesting this, but since your DH sounds like he might like this, I am going to suggest it. http://www.randallknives.com/ The knives are hand made in Florida and the folks who are into them are REALLY into them. My husband inherited several from his father and they are his most prized possessions. It can take years to have one made, but would be the type of gift you are looking for, I think.

          • Hmm, the special knife/special tool idea has potential, and I think he would probably like a special utility knife (my greatest gift-giving success with him so far was a titanium hammer). I’ll have to see what is available in Canada, though, as I imagine getting a custom-made knife across the border would be a loooooongggg and expensive process.

    • If he’s a tool guy, I would think a really nice tool would be something different and cool. I have a hammer that belonged to my grandfather that was engraved with his initials (not a fancy engraving job, just a do it yourself I assume) . I don’t use it, but I keep it on a shelf with our family photo albums. It makes me smile everytime I see it and think about all the great things he built with it.

    • I asked my MIL what my husband’s favorite books were when he was little and then gave him those books with a personal note about sharing them with our daughter. He seemed pretty happy with it.

    • anonymouse :

      Given the recent conversation about “push presents” I think it’s interesting there is no cutsy name for the male equivalent. 9en!s present?

  8. When I finally broke down and realized that I needed a case for my iphone, I wanted something pretty. I looked at a ton of stuff online and on etsy, but since I was applying for jobs, I knew that whatever I got couldn’t have too much personality. I was also concerned about not using a pirated image (especially since most of my searches were on etsy). I ended up getting a case with cherry blossoms on the back, which I thought walked the line of professional but still fun.

    For my next case, when I’ll have a little more money, I’d like to get one from an original artist, like this:

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/friederikealexander?ref=pr_faveshops

    Or this: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrazenDesignStudio?section_id=11453741

    Or this: https://www.etsy.com/shop/stephaniekiker?ref=l2-shop-header-avatar

    One more: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DaVinciCase?section_id=11324816

    • Lady Harriet :

      Those are beautiful! My college roommate (who now works in a corporate job) has a Starry Night case for her iPhone, which is really classy.

      I have a fairly low-end Android phone that doesn’t have a lot of case options. I was wary of getting a hard case, because I drop the phone a lot, and most of the designs were pretty cheesy too. I ended up with this: http://www.amazon.com/TURQUOISE-Illusion-Twisted-Tech-Packaging/dp/B005D5MMGC . It’s fairly plain, but the color and glossiness make me happy. It’s easy to take on and off the phone and has protected it well so far.

      • Lady Harriet :

        Also, I usually try to keep my phone on silent at work, but my general ringtone philosophy is to only have things I won’t be embarrassed about. My general ringtone is the jazz tune In the Mood, and then I have separate classical music ringtones for each of my parents and an instrumental version of the Firefly theme song for my brother. However, my text/email sound is the Power Rangers wrist communicator sound (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk66tSt4ec4) It sounds generic enough if you aren’t familiar with it, and it makes me very happy. I feel like I’m off to save the world every time I get a new email!

  9. Sydney Bristow :

    I have a black rubbery case that I really like. I can’t remember who the manufacturer is but it looks like it has tiny holes punched all over it. I went with black just because I like all of my electronics to match.

    I also always leave my phone on silent at work. If I forget and it rings then I’d probably be embarrassed because the song it plays is super loud but nobody would recognize it. It’s a song about my college football team, I love it, and I’m not changing it. I have accidentally had the alarm go off before, which is the Dr Who theme song. I figure if you recognize it then you’re probably cool with it.

  10. I just got an iPhone for work and got a red leather case that has slots on the inside cover to hold business cards, swipe card, etc if I’m going to a meeting on another floor in our building. So far I really like it, except that I have to take out the phone to put it in my dock to play (not too loud) music in my office.

    My personal phone has a funner case – it’s blue & white doodles. However, for my next personal case I want something polka dotted. I love my ipad mini case which is bright green with white polka dots.

    I see nothing wrong with expressing yourself through your phone case, but the really juvenile cases probably aren’t the best for work. I’m thinking the ones with bunny ears & tails, for example. I’m not sure I’d classify pink sparkles as juvenile, but some people probably do.

  11. I have a pale blue leather Kate Spade case for my work blackberry that says ‘all in a days work’. I love it – its clearly MY phone on a whole table of blackberries and I think its classy as well.

  12. Echoing: Make sure the case has a little lip that rises past the edge of the screen – if the case edge is flush with the screen and you drop it, cracked screen. We had one vibrate off a table and break. Some cases that cover the screen mess with the touch screen functionality and are super annoying. They’re amazing just be on the look out for that issue. Kate Spade does make some cute ones, and JCrew had good ones too.

    Related: Any reports on the plastic colorful iPhones yet?

  13. Seventh Sister :

    I have one of the Kate Spade hard cases for my iPhone. I really like it. I used to have the pink, black and white one, and now I have the pink, orange and white one.

    While I realize conventional wisdom would suggest a plainer case for my fairly staid office, but the preppy-ness of the design seems to outweigh the bright colors so I have no problem pulling it out at work. (I also have a bright orange wallet.)

    I’m in my late 30s, so I don’t think pink screams “little girl” the way it did when I was 25. It’s also super-easy to find in my bowels of my purse.

  14. I might marry my Otter box Commuter, if I could. It’s slimmer than the Defender, and my phone survived a flight off the hood of my car at 60mph.

  15. Anonymous :

    TJ: Can anyone comment about fit, quality, etc. of AT Eryn heels? Are they leather lined? Hunting as usual for good, basic, stylish, not too tall, etc. shoes for work. TIA.

  16. I have had a couple different Kate Spade phones cases. I like the silicone ones – they aren’t too bulky, but I drop my phones all the time and have never damaged one. The one time I tried a KS hard plastic case it broke in less than a month. As a bonus, they come in cute patterns that aren’t too over the top.

  17. I have an Elago brand case that I like. It’s sleek and has a lip, so whenever I’ve dropped my phone, the screen’s been fine.

    As far as bling, I don’t really care.

    • Orangerie :

      Yep – I love eLago cases. I got the S5 Slim Fit for $10 from Amazon… it looks great and I like that it’s inexpensive enough to replace after it gets dinged up.

  18. Miss Priss :

    Speck cases are amazing! Super sturdy, smooth sides (great for jamming in tight pockets), and they have a no hassle one year guarantee. Which I’ve used twice as I’m the kind of person who drops my phone four times a day on to concrete. Also, they come in tons of bright colors and patterns. Professional and fun.

    • Veronique :

      +1. I have the Speck Candyshell grip and I love it. The back is hard plastic but the inside is soft/rubbery, so you get the best of both worlds (excellent protection, easy to remove when I want to, stays put when I don’t). It also has a lip that extends past the screen to protect it. I have dropped it several times from waist height and higher on concrete, carpet, etc and both the case and phone look brand new. I got the version with the rubbery grips, which is easier to hold on to, but they also have smooth versions. Mine is fuchsia and black, which is both colorful and professional (imo), as the black tones down the bright color.

    • MaggieLizer :

      +2 to Speck. I love that it’s slim so it doesn’t add a lot of bulk to my phone, but it still provides decent protection. I’ve dropped it a few times and the phone is fine.

  19. TO Lawyer :

    I have a J.Crew case that is black and white and has hearts all over it. Maybe not the most professional option but I love it.

    • +1 J.Crew. I got my boyfriend (who has the worst phone drop problem ever) a leather case and it’s taken a beating well. I caved and got a silicone tortoise-print for myself, too, and that’s also been great… Not quite as sexy as naked phone, but especially on the iPhone 5 and up, those silvery edges are almost impossible to keep ding-free.

  20. I really like my case, but I admit it doesn’t do much in the way of protection. It’s totally clear and sleek, and it was not expensive. I like that my iPhone still looksl like an iPhone. The brand is Luvvitt and I found it on Amazon.

    I have dropped my phone twice, and thank goodness it landed on it’s corner both times. The case protected it from these falls.

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