After possessing literally dozens of caseless phones over maybe a 15 year span, I finally did the unthinkable. Or, perhaps, it was the inevitable. And it was a boneheaded move. Overtired on an 8 hour drive, we stopped for a Starbucks pick-me-up… yet, before making it into the store, I managed to launch my iPhone straight into the pavement face first and shattered the display.
Oh, the phone was fully functional, but trying to use it led to a glass-pierced bloody finger. Reading email was also a bit challenging. Despite that, my first thought was to grab a screen protector or some packing tape and wait out the New iPhone 5. The incident also reminded me of my liability as a Verizon customer, in that I can’t simply swap SIMs with other phones I own (like the Samsung Focus Flash). Not that I actually had any other phones with me 400 miles from home.
Fortunately, there was an Apple Store within 20 minutes of our hotel and so we swung by on Day 2 hoping for some empathy. And empathy I did receive. But an out-of-warranty iPhone replacement would run $150. Considering iFixit parts and shipping would cost $140 to take care of this myself, and cost me valuable time, I somewhat reluctantly pulled the trigger at the Apple Store. I suppose there is a small silver lining — I didn’t realize how poorly my battery was holding a charge and how flakey the home button had become until receiving my new (but probably refurb) iPhone 4.
My wife wouldn’t let me leave the Apple Store without a case. While I generally don’t like to sully my devices with a second skin, I was a bit shaken (and out $150). So I picked out this Speck case – it seemed sufficiently protective and grippy. Although it clearly obliterated the iPhone 4′s good looks. In fact, my iPhone looked (and felt) a bit like an iPhone 3G. Not all bad, but not nearly as sophisticated. Then again, as I learned, a functioning phone beats an unusable one every time.
As I was contemplating how to protect my iPhone while reclaiming a bit of style (I’m shallow like that), Tech 21′s reps reached out after learning of my plight and sent me their Impact Band. It’s similar in concept to Apple’s Bumper in that it wraps around the perimeter of an iPhone 4/4S, leaving the glass back exposed. I prefer this look but, for those that don’t, the Band (available in multiple colors) also comes with a clear plastic shield to prevent scratches. In terms of protection, Tech 21′s claim to fame is D30, an advanced polymer, designed to provide superior shock dispersion… and it’s the orange material seen in my clear band (above, below). Of course, I don’t plan to intentionally test its capabilities and I’m not sure it would have saved my phone, but it feels more solid and looks more unique than Apple’s offering at the same $30 price point (plus that bonus rear protector). The buttons are stiffer than Apple’s and the Speck case this replaces, but otherwise I’m sold (and my wife is now contemplating replacing her iSkin with an Impact Band).