Monday, May 23, 2011

Design your own iPhone case! (or Blackberry case)

Disclosure: This is an uncompensated, unprovoked review of a product I absolutely love.  If anyone wants to provide me with stuff to review for compensation or free gear, I am not too proud to accept that challenge…:-)

I’m a klutz. Not just your average “I drop things” kind of klutz--but the kind of klutz who manages to trip & fall on bleachers and break an ankle (true story from the 6th grade—my parents & I told people it was a sports injury…it happened in a gym).  A “I don’t wear heels taller than 1.5 inches, not because of my 5’9” height, but because of the danger to myself & others” kind of a klutz. The kind of klutz who should probably be required to wear steel-toed shoes in the kitchen because she is known to drop knives.  The kind of klutz that my husband & parents were afraid for me to move into a house that had 3 different sets of stairs....Get the picture?

Last fall when I expressed an interest to get an iPhone4, my husband laughed and said “Are you sure YOU want to get a phone that is totally encased in glass?”…  I grasped the meaning of his hint.  I was going to drop my phone and break it.  But I ignored the warnings & got an iPhone4.  I liked the improved features over the 3GS option.  The better quality camera & flash were really important to me.  Actually, all of the photos on this blog so far have been taken with my iPhone…

I knew that due to my klutzy nature, I was going to need a GOOD case.  A strong case.  A case that could take a beating.  I investigated the different options.  99% of the people I asked recommended Otterbox cases.  So I looked at them, & held people’s phones that had Otterbox cases. Don’t get me wrong, I love actual Otters as much as anyone, but there is nothing cute & adorable about Otterbox cases, other than their logo on the packaging.  They take a beautiful, sleek, modern device, and encase it in a hideous, malformed Nerf football.  Lovely.  Women’s pants pockets are small enough as it is, I can’t imagine having to dig a Nerf blob out of my pocket every time I wanted to look at my phone to read a text message or check the clock.

After some additional research, and googling my fingers off, I found the perfect option.  It’s fabulous.  At, you can design your own “tough case” for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G/3Gs,  the Blackberry bold, or the blackberry curve phones. You have a few different options: (1) you can mix & match colors of cases, (2) upload your own image or graphic, or (3) use preexisting design elements from a group of artists to build your own unique design.  Designing your own case(s) is an incredibly fun way to waste several hours online…

So around the time I got my phone, I designed my own case.  The case I ordered utilized design elements by artist ­­­­Anthony Yankovic & it is incredibly cute in my opinion.  

My phone cover...

 I like the case-mate tough cases because:
  • They have 2 layers of material.  The bottom layer is a rubbery, bouncy silicone and the outer layer is a hard, glossy plastic.
  • The design is not painted/screen printed onto the case, but is actually printed into the plastic.  Therefore the decoration holds up to scratches & dents. 
  • The case slides easily in & out of pockets due to the glossy plastic.
  • They come with a screen protector.
  • They allow you access to all of your buttons & plug-ins…so you can place the encased phone on iHome radios and other charging dock devices without taking it out of the case.
  • Being able to design your own case is Incredibly fun.

The only downside is that it takes a little longer for processing/shipping of the case, since the plastic has to be printed. Also, the glossy finish can cause a slippery grip.  Luckily the silicone bottom layer overhangs in places & adds some grippy’ness.  Plus, they are a little pricey at around $40.00...but that is what you pay for a lot of the "tough" cases...

Fast forward 6 months…[insert ScoobyDoo time-warp music here]

My husband & I had been out hiking for 5-6 hours one beautiful Saturday morning.  We were on our way home & decided to stop for a quick lunch at a Burger King because we were famished and still had a 2 hour drive home.  After we were done eating, I stand up from the table with my phone in hand & start walking towards the door…and in some kind of spastic moment, that is yet to be defined how it happened, I ended up doing a full-on, full-strength, football-spike-in-the-end-zone type maneuver with my phone…onto a hard tile floor.  I gasped.  For a split second my brain thought “[expletive!] I should have gone with the Nerf football case!”  I was speechless, & perhaps shell shocked.  My husband may have even picked up my phone for me due to my inability to move…

After a close inspection of my phone, it was perfectly fine. No shattered glass, no broken speakers, the touch screen worked perfectly, etc. Amazing. The case was not as lucky.  On 2 of its corners, it had little hairline cracks, but was still totally functional.  With the force the phone hit the tile floor that is REALLY impressive.

After some discussion on the car ride home, my Hubs and I decided that the phone case should be treated like a bike helmet.  After a bad crash—it should get replaced.  When I got home that evening I re-designed my original case (since I loved it) & reordered it.

In the 6 months since I ordered my original DIY tough case, case-mate made some design & manufacturing improvements.
  • The volume & vibrate toggle switches are easier to use.
  • The hard plastic case has a bigger indention at the bottom, allowing it to sit more easily in a charging dock.
  • The colors on the design are darker & more vibrant.

Overall, I am EXTREMELY happy with the case-mate tough case.  I recommend it to everyone I know who is looking at getting an iPhone.  It is truly a phone saver. Not to say that it will protect your phone in 100% of all circumstances (nothing will)…but overall I trust that the case is going to mostly protect my phone from my very klutzy self.   

  • Sit on your design for awhile before ordering, make sure you love it.
  • Make sure your design overlaps the outside of the design rectangle, because your design will actually wrap along the outside of the phone (important w/ iPhone 4’s due to their box-like shape)
  • Check for coupons for, which could get you a product discount or free shipping.


  1. LOVE it! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to have to remember this - planning to upgrade to an iPhone in the fall when I'm eligible for my upgrade discount!! :)

  2. Many sites offer templates that allow you to complete your case design in just a few minutes. All you have to do is upload your photo, indicate how many cases you need and you are all set. Once you are done, all you have to do is wait for your new case to be shipped to you. It couldn't be any easier to get a phone case that you are going to be happy with for years to come.