Bonnie Cha

Recent Posts by Bonnie Cha

Five Protective Cases for the iPhone 5

Uh-oh. Is there a ScuffGate controversy brewing?

The iPhone 5 went on sale just last Friday but already a number of owners have taken to the Web to complain about imperfections on their shiny new Apple devices. (Not to mention the kerfuffle over the Maps application in iOS 6.)

Belkin Flex Case

Some reported that their iPhone had cosmetic damage right out of the box, while others said that the back of the phone is highly susceptible to nicks and scratches.

It’s still too early to tell how big of a problem this is — an informal survey on MacRumors shows that about 49 percent of the respondents say their iPhone is just fine — and Apple has yet to make an official statement. But ScuffGate or not, I always think it’s a good idea to get some kind of case for your smartphone.

I know some might scoff at the notion because you think cases are clunky and cover up the iPhone’s sleek design. I felt the same way until I dropped my phone one too many times, and since I have yet to win the lottery, I much prefer to spend $20 on a case than a few hundred dollars on a new phone.

So, what kind of cases are available for the iPhone 5? Well, since accessory companies didn’t get a heads-up on the iPhone’s new design, they’re working fast and furious to churn out iPhone 5 cases; you can expect to see a bunch more in the coming weeks. But here are five that you can get right now:

Belkin Flex Case

Starting with the most basic, the Belkin Flex Case is a flexible silicone sleeve that you can slip onto your iPhone. It has a striped texture on back for an easier grip, and comes in a pack of two if you want to split it with a family member or friend who also got an iPhone 5. Each pack costs $19.99 and comes in two color combinations: Black and white or purple and violet.

OtterBox Defender Series

OtterBox Defender Series

OtterBox is known for its rugged cases, so if you’re particularly hard on your devices or are prone to accidents, the company’s Defender Series cases might be for you. The OtterBox offers three layers of protection, including a polycarbonate inner shell that cushions the iPhone, a screen protector and an outer rubber slipcover.

The case also includes a belt holster and rubber plugs for the headphone jack, Lightning port and volume controls. But don’t get any ideas about going swimming with your iPhone with this case, as it’s not water-resistant.

Case Mate Pop Case

The OtterBox Defender Series costs $49.95, and comes in a variety of color combinations.

Case-Mate Pop Case with Stand

The iPhone is a great media consumption device, but holding it for a long period of time to watch videos isn’t ideal. The Case-Mate Pop Case features a built-in stand on the back so you can place your iPhone on a flat surface to enjoy your media hands-free, in either portrait or landscape mode.

The case has a hard exterior with textured side grips and a soft, impact-resistant interior. It costs $35, and comes in 11 different colors.

Speck SmartFlex Card

Speck SmartFlex Card

In August, my AllThingsD colleague Lauren Goode checked out several smartphone cases that double as wallets, and now we have the next-gen version. The SmartFlex Card case from Speck has a compartment on back than can hold up to three credit cards or folded bills; a small slot on the left side allows you to push out the cards with your thumb when needed.

The SmartFlex is available for $34.95, in black, pink, purple, gray and green.

Sena Magia Wallet

Sena Magia Wallet

Finally, if you’re not feeling the rubber or plastic cases, Sena offers a line of leather accessories for the iPhone 5, including the Magia Wallet. Available in black, red or brown, the case includes a camera-lens opening so you can take pictures without removing it from the wallet, and three credit card holders.

There’s also a multipurpose pocket and a magnetic strap closure. Because of the material, the Sena costs a bit more, at $54.95.

Boxwave Keyboard Buddy

Bonus: Boxwave Keyboard Buddy

The Boxwave Keyboard Buddy isn’t available yet, but I had to include it, because I still miss physical keyboards. The case snaps onto the back of the iPhone 5, and features a slide-out five-row keyboard with backlit buttons. The keyboard connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth, and can last up to two weeks before needing to be recharged.

The Keyboard Buddy is available for preorder now for a special price of $89.95; it’s expected to ship on Oct. 26.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald