How to Protect Your Phone: Covers, Cases, and Screen Protectors

Keeping your phone protected from the harsh outside world should be pretty important to you. If it isn’t, think about how you would feel if your $400 phone slipped out your hands and you watched it fall, right before it exploded into pieces on the pavement. You may end up telling a story like this.

There are several methods of protecting your Android phone from such damages; in this article, I’ll fill you in on I’m going to tell you the positive and negative aspects of each.

Silicone Covers

The most abundant and easily obtained case of them all. Silicone covers are usually thick, rubbery, and stretchy. Mostly designed and ideal for absorbing shocks caused by dropping or knocking your phone. They do a good job of it but offer no protection for your screen, which is still vulnerable to casual scrapes, scratches, and full on impacts.

Another issue that arises is size, and pockets. When inside a silicone case, phones have a real problem getting in to and out of pockets. The material of most trouser pockets clings to silicone, so you practically turn your pocket inside out every time you need to answer a call.

Belt-Attached Pouches

These are the small pouches with one or two belt attachment loops. Once attached, you usually lift up a flap and your phone slots in.

You don’t see these around much anymore, but you can still find good ones if you search hard enough. I think they are most suited to businessmen who have ‘work phones’, which are indeed used in an office building or other ‘work environment’. This is because although belt attachments are convenient in protecting your phone from knocks and making it easily accessible, they make it a little too accessible, leaving it vulnerable to thieves outside of an office or other trustworthy area. I would never use one of these in London on a Friday night, let’s put it that way. I would also suffer from the problem of misunderstood style, since although these pouches are acceptable in a professional environment, one would look a little odd elsewhere.

Plastic Shells

I have found these difficult to get a hold of, though I do see them around occasionally and think they are fantastic. A sturdy reinforced plastic shell clips onto your phone, and provides protection against drops and shock damage on the corners and rear of your phone. It helps keep the original ‘feel’ of the phone, since the shell is usually a tight-fitting overlay. However your phone remains vulnerable on the front.

(Editor’s note: I’m a fan of the CaseMate “Barely There” series of plastic shells.)

Zip/Drawstring/Open Pouches

These pouches are usually made of a soft fabric like cotton or wool; you are supposed to drop your phone in one to keep it safe. Sometimes they have a little drawstring at the top to prevent the phone wriggling out in a spacious jacket pocket.

The big pro of a pouch is that your phone is not burdened by a big case, leaving you able to enjoy its sleek design as the creators intended. However as soon as someone nudges you, it will go spiralling to the floor unprotected.

Leather Flip Cases

If you get a cheap one off eBay these usually consist of a plastic back-housing for the phone to click into, which is attached to a piece of stiff fake leather. These cases offer the best all-round protection, because when closed all of the phone is protected. My only niggle is that, when you pop open the magnetic tab, the screen-cover part of the case just flops down and hangs there whilst you use the phone. If you tuck it round the back and hold it with your fingers it wears out the case. Some flip cases are designed so that the screen-cover goes up and over the back of the phone; this way it doesn’t dangle down and get in your way.

When I play games on my phone I often find that a big leather case gets in the way. It makes it a lot harder to be accurate when tapping buttons on the screen, too, such as when typing.

Screen Protectors

Screen protectors are a great complement to a case that offers no frontal protection, like a silicone case or plastic shell. Though it doesn’t protect your screen from cracking, it does offer resistance to scratches and abrasions. Screen protectors are usually a thin piece of electro-conductive film which self-adheres to your screen.

These are easily obtained off of eBay and Amazon, usually sold in packs of three or five for only a dollar or so. You just peel off the backing, line it up with your phone, and stick it on. Remember to be slow and progressive, moving from top to bottom using a credit card to iron out all of the air bubbles.

Where To Get One

Internet

My repository of choice; all of the aforementioned case styles are always available cheaply on eBay or Amazon. Always be sure to check the reputation of the sellers to ensure you get what you expect: pictures can be surprisingly deceptive and are often touched up.

Shops

Shops are always good for seeing precisely what it is you are buying. Sadly, though, their prices are often far greater than you would find for a similar product online. In the UK, even the silicone cases go for as much as £8 or so, with leather cases going for £15 to £20. You should consider however, that the in-store products are almost always of a far higher quality than the cheap online-shopping replicas. The online ones work fine, but they were never made to be scrutinised in a shop by potential owners, so there is often a lack of ‘finer’ quality.

Final Thoughts

I suppose at the end of the day there is no ‘perfect’ way to protect your phone, since we all have different needs and ideals. No one protection method keeps your device totally secure. That said, a combination of screen protector, plastic shell, and a drawstring pouch would offer significant protection, and seems ideal for me.

As always, post your own thoughts and opinions below!


  • jeff

    Im a huge fan of the invisi-shield screen protectors. They’re about 15$ to get one put on your phone, and are found in various malls. They are long lasting and dependable. Once you pay for the initial fee you can go back and get it replaced for 5$.

    I wont go anywhere else for screen protectors and all the friends I’ve referred are still loving them.

  • Stijn cremers

    Suggestion: i think it would be nice to highlight some accessoires for the galaxe nexus in an article.
    Or the galaxy s2,…

  • Judy

    I found and love the plastic case I bought for my Samsung Exhibit II, however, it causes my phone to freeze often because it holds in the heat it produces.

  • akshay

    Apart from getting new covers for your phone,there are many other ways also by which you can prevent the dreaded scratches for you phone. there are some mentioned here …hope they are as useful as i found them out to be..specially the last few ones..http://techwikasta.com/2013/01/how-to-save-your-phone-screen-from-scratches/….cheers!!!

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