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It seems like common sense that you need to put your new smartphone into a protective case the very second you take it out of the box, but you don’t always need a case for your iPhone or Android!

Phones Are Built Tougher Than Ever

Smartphone manufacturers don’t design smartphones with cases in mind. It’s a device that’s been created to use as it comes from the box. Sure, the accessories market is worth a lot of money and the company that makes your phone will happily sell you a case for it, but nowhere in the warranty or manual does it say that you need to have a case (or screen protector) for your phone.

The phone’s internal frame, body materials, and screen glass are all made to take daily wear and tear. It’s also designed to stand up to a number of more violent accidents. Typically phones will stay functional, with perhaps some cosmetic damage, after falling from hip or table height onto a hard surface. If you’re dropping that phone onto a carpet, you have even less to worry about.

Companies like Apple and Samsung spend millions and millions of dollars developing better glass, metal, and polycarbonate materials to beef up phone durability. This means that adding a $50 phone case may be a little like painting a thin layer of rubber onto a tank.

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Yes, technically it does improve damage protection, but is it worth it? Compounded onto this is that you’ll never know if your case really saved your phone from a drop or not and when your case fails to prevent catastrophic damage, you’re in the same situation as having had no case at all.

Cases Can Ruin a Phone’s Ergonomics and Aesthetics

Modern smartphones are thin, light, beautiful, and a pleasure to hold. They’re made from premium materials and have appealing designs and colors. None of which matters if you put the phone into a case.

Yes, even the thinnest silicon case takes away from the intended experience of using the device. That’s a good argument for skipping the case.

Does Resale Value Really Matter?

Many people try to take special care of their phones because they’d like to resell them for a better price when the time to upgrade comes. While you can definitely get more money for a phone that’s in good condition compared to one with scratches and other types of cosmetic damage, it’s debatable whether that increase in the sale price is worth depriving yourself of the full enjoyment of your phone while you own it. You’re effectively limiting your own enjoyment for the benefit of a hypothetical future buyer.

Smartphones depreciate in value so quickly, that after two or three years, they may be worth more as a backup phone or as a gift passed on to a child or family member than something you’d sell on Craigslist. Keeping your phone in a good condition isn’t a bad thing of course, but taking measures to keep the phone pristine that impact usability today for a vague future goal is perhaps less sensible.

Insurance Is an Option

If your phone is part of a subsidized carrier plan, it probably either includes insurance or you’ve been offered the option to add insurance to your monthly fee. This could be for theft, damage, loss, or all three.

Theft insurance is something we think everyone should have, but loss and damage insurance is often bundled with theft insurance or can be taken in addition to it. Carefully check the paperwork and see what your options are.

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Some manufacturers include free screen replacements in their warranty, as long as you’ve registered for it in time. Alternatively, you can buy this sort of protection at a discounted rate in the form of AppleCare+, Samsung Care+, and other similar offers. This means you pre-purchase screen replacement at a massively reduced rate, subsidized by all the other people who also bought such plans—most of whom will never break their screens. It’s worth keeping in mind that even if you do use a case, these plans can be a good idea since your screen can be damaged even if you have a case or screen protector.

There Are Good Reasons to Use a Case

For most people, a phone case is more about reducing your anxiety about a broken phone than actually preventing damage to your handset. However, there are still some good reasons to use a case.

First, some phones are prone to slipping off things, such as your lap or a couch. Some cases offer a textured surface that makes it less likely that your phone will slip and fall.

Second, if you use your phone in unusually hazardous places, you should consider a ruggedized case. People who work in construction or have a job outside where the phone can come in contact with rocks, sand, asphalt, and other similar surfaces have an increased risk of serious damage. So a beefed-up case is sensible.

Some cases add useful functionality to a phone. It may have a kickstand or a place to store your stylus if you use one.

A case can be a way to further personalize your phone, too. Many people use standard cases, but you can get cases with custom colors and designs to show off your unique style.

The Debate Goes On

The debate between whether naked or case phone use is better will likely never go away. It’s also contextual to how you use your phone and what sort of experience you want to get out of it. The choice is up to you.

Profile Photo for Sydney Butler Sydney Butler
Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He's worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular.
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