TiPb TV 03: iPhone Case vs. Naked

Should you go around with a naked iPhone or do you need a case? If you do need a case, what kind should you get? That's a question we get asked all the time and it's the topic for the third episode of our new, conversational video podcast, TiPb TV.

Rene and I discuss the pros and cons of bare, barely there, and full on armor for iPhone 4. We also show off several of our favorite cases including the Case Mate Chrome and Ivy, the Incipio Ultra Light, the Golla Bag, the Otterbox Defender, and more.

We take on the argument of case vs. case vs. naked, the cost and benefits of protecting against the bumps and scratches of avoiding bulk. So if you've been trying to decide which type of case is best for you, or if you're daring to go bare with no case on at all, we'll help you make the best choice possible.

Watch along and then leave us a comment and tell us -- which case, if any, do you use?


Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, hosts the ZEN & TECH podcast, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Prime.

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There are 60 comments. Add yours.

ohferfuxsakes says:

Naked. That's how I roll.
I got the free bumper and put it on for about 30 min. It just didn't look or feel right, so off it went.
I've been naked this whole time with nary a scratch to show for it.

fastlane says:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. My $300 eyeglasses aren't in a case when I wear them. My $30,000 car isn't in a case. People don't have their diamond rings and watches in cases when they wear them. So, the "$200" value of the phone isn't a valid argument, in my opinion. And, they're just plain ugly (all of them).
I've never used a case with any of my three iPhones (but I've tried a few). I've sold both my previous iPhones in mint condition. What in the world are people doing with their phones?
I don't understand why an iPhone, as beautiful as it is, is protected like it's worth so much more than the other things that aren't protected. And screen protectors are just nasty-looking. There's nothing better than the feel of the smooth clean glass.

Josh says:

I'd love to carry my iPhone 4 naked, thing is, where I work is pretty dangerous for a smartphone of any build. I went with a bumper for a while until it wore out (rubber on one side got real chewed up) and now I'm in my Otterbox Commuter. My iPhone is a fingerprint magnet, but is scratch free after a few months of use/pocket carrying.
I'll deal with a little added bulk in my pocket, but keep the peace of mind and any repair/replacement costs for something else.

James T says:

Going naked is great if you need to pat your ego. I have an iPhone because I like the features - not because I want to go naked and show it off so that people think I am "cool" as it often the case (no pun intended).
I keep my phone in a case. As for the comment about a ring or car being in a case, do those come delivered in a case? No! The iPhone is breakable. Cars and rings are not dropped and tossed from one hand to another.
Get a clue.

Jon says:

Whats the point of a pouch case when it doesn't protect the phone when you need protection the most(when you are actually USING it)? I never understood that. Anyways, I always have a case on to prevent scratches and maintain resale value. I would have broken my iPhone at least twice already if I didn't have a case on.

fastlane says:

By the way, I do keep my iPhone in an Incipio alphaPOUCH when not in use. But when I use it, it's nice, and thin, and sleek, and beautifully naked. :)

killakow says:

i would go naked if i could make a successful call without being dropped so i'm forced to go with a bumper. i tried a screen protector and took it off immediately.

HungWell says:

These topics are just getting WAY too controversial for me ;)

ohferfuxsakes says:

I do not drop my phone, nor do I toss it from one hand to another....maybe that explains why my naked iPhone 4 has nary a scratch on it whilst yours might look like you put it in the garbage disposal if you didn't armor it up.

fastlane says:

Just the opposite. What's the point of having a case when it's safely in your hand being used? I've never understood that. It's when protection is needed the least.
Having it in a pouch protects it from being banged around. When it's in my hand being used, there's nothing to bang against it... and I'm not going to drop it like an imbecile.
You've loset me.

fastlane says:

@James T.

"As for the comment about a ring or car being in a case, do those come delivered in a case? No!"

Umm... neither was my iPhone. :shock:

pyroguysf says:

I always like the naked look on any device, but I need some sort of protection. I'm not a control freak but I take real good care of things, and I had BodyGuardz film on my 3G which worked great- kept it looking brand new when I sold it 2 years later and got the 4, which immediately got its own BodyGuardz, which has been holding up great since launch day. It's just enough of a bit of cushion and protective layer an it's great at keeping scratches out.
One of my roommates on the other hand just wrecked his 3G, and got a 4 with an Otterbox case, and it feels pretty indestructible, so if that's more your style, they seem pretty well.

Simon says:

I use a Black Case Mate Barely There.. It comes with a screen protector and the overall look is excellent. I have dropped it on a number of occasions and so far I have been fortunate enough to say the Case Mate has provided some form of protection. So Far :)

sting7k says:

The iPhone 4 just feels very fragile without a case and does not instill confidence that it will survive drops easily. I think it has to do with the glass back and it's weight. That said, it's thinness makes having a case much easier. The SGP neo hybrid also is like a bumper with a back and is just awesome. Also, if you want to resell it you might as well have a case to keep it mint for eBay.

Jon says:

Wow people have strong feelings on this topic eh? The bottom line is if there was no need to have cases, companies wouldn't make them. Consumers wouldn't buy them. But they do. You can't tell me that these case makers have created useless products just for profit. Yeah there are tons of junk being sold everywhere(snuggies, O_o ), but cases are like insurance. I understand not everyone needs the protection, but many of us do.

JJG says:

Got my 3GS naked with a screen protector on. It's hard for me to think about taking the screen protector off when I can see little scratches, however they happend, that would have been in my screen. And as for resale value? After I get a new phone this will be neutered into a 32gb iPod touch for my son. At most, I'd say a soft gel case is in order.

ohferfuxsakes says:

Jon - "The bottom line is if there was no need to have cases, companies wouldn’t make them. Consumers wouldn’t buy them. But they do. You can’t tell me that these case makers have created useless products just for profit."
Are you serious with this? Just LOL

webvex says:

Better job on the video this time. You goofs still need work, but it's more watchable.

lush242000 says:

Alright, good progress. I think the tally comes to 2. That would be a new record.
I use the ifrogz slip on. It was the only one I found that had good grip due to the slots cut out on the sides.

jmhenry5150 says:

I basically "rent" these phones for one year - then turn around and make money when the new one comes out.
An OtterBox is a must.

Keisuke says:

Guess what?
Apple retains a policy wherein if they decide, on the value of an underpaid "genius", if YOU are responsible for breaking your phone (which is very likely given you'd probably be the one dropping it) that it doesn't matter if it's under warranty, jerkwad, you're paying full price for a replacement. Or maybe the moisture sensor has been tripped by being in a humid climate. You have zero guarantee your Applecare "warranty" will count. If that loser in a t-shirt who thinks he's got a real job is having a bad day, you have a problem and you're paying $500 to replace something which should be covered under warranty.
Hence, cases.

websyndicate says:

No case since 2007 why start today I get a new one every year anyways

Kenmal says:

Like most people I know " the more we try to protect the dam thing the more it gets dropped " dunno, thats how it works. My brother had a case for a month never dropped his phone, he took off his case for cool factor ( idiot ) and bam!! Pavement. Funny how it works. So ya I use a case a cheap gel one for 15 bucks ugly as hell but it bounces when it hits the ground haha. And lastly georgia, love the pigtales ; )

Kenmal says:

The more we protect the less it gets dropped i
ment to say.

webvex says:

@Kenmal, I think you had it right the first time.

James T says:

Your phone was not in a box when you purchased it? Do you have a used phone? Mine came in a hard protected box.
As for my phone, it does not have a scratch on it and the case provides extra grip. If you do not travel much and use it during meetings and such, it should be OK. I'm a stunt driver and often the phone is what helps me stay afloat when stuck in a car for hours upside down.

Shrike says:

The 2 year old isn't sure handed with the device yet. Plus, his hygiene is questionable. ;)
This a case is necessary for now.

Glenn#IM says:

There are case people, and non case people. It is a matter of choice. I always carry mine on the belt, so I need a case. I use a prima case. It is leather at a fair price. If I carried it in a pocket, I would most likely not have a case. Good video by the way.

parabel says:

I have a GelaSkin sticker on the back and a GelaScreen film on the front of my 3GS to prevent it from getting scratches, so that it maintains its value for resale when the iPhone 5 comes out.
When I was in the army though, I had a SwitchEasy RebelSerpent case to prevent it from getting shattered when rolling around in the dirt.. ^^ This case protects the phone pretty well against any kind of pressure. I still use it today when I go snowboarding.

HOR-HAY says:

Love the phone naked but an Otterbox Defender is the only way to go IMO.

Koma says:

I used a very elegant wood/leather combination case for my 3GS (from Textra) but until I'll find anything similarly sexy for my iPhone 4 it stays naked.
It won't get scratched in my inside jacket pocket and else I slip it in my felt bag.
It still looks 100% new!

GinoDotCom says:

@keisuke actually you're wrong. Apple charges you $200 for a replacement if you damaged your phone with water, cracked your screen or other sorts of physical damage. Thing is.. There's a good chance you'll get a refurb phone but it still looks brands new and it's not 500$ your paying.
As for cases, I have the lime green, blue and white Apple bumpers. That's about it.

TumnusMr says:

I would love to use my iPhone 4 without any case, but I have to use a bumper style case to prevent the antenna touch issue. I only get about 3 bars of signal at home so touching that bottom left corner and shorting the 2 antennas completely kills my signal and it is so easy to do inadvertently.
So far I haven't seen any reputable brands come out with a minimal insulating cover/sticker for the bottom left corner and which actually works. In fact I haven't really seen any decent, thin and clear bumpers that gives unhindered access to the dock port (and Apple's bumper has an opening only just big enough for their own ultra-slim connector which makes it incompatible with just about everything else). There are several clear bumpers on the market but all the photos of them make them seem bulky. I'm still using the a semi-transparent, yellow bumper I got free from the TiPB Store (Thanks!)

Kenmal says:

webvex.. ya thanks I'm confusing myself.

Jay Mobile says:

I don't know about everyone else but I love the Naked Case by case mate. It's see through and it's not big or bulky so you can see the beauty of the GPOAT(Greatest Phine Of All Time) and yet still have all around protection. No one plans on dropping or breaking their phones but hey accidents happen, so therefore in my opinion the Naked Case is the best. Full coverage of your phone and still maintain the sleek sexiness of the GPOAT.

martuca says:

I don't have any Antenna issues at all (and think the whole thing was very overblown), but I use the Incipio feather.

webvex says:

@Kenmal, sorry, I was making a wise crack about how people think a case means they don't have to take proper care of their devices. Stunt drivers and two-year olds excepted, most people would be fine without a case (or a minimal case for the antenna issue) if they'd just be careful and not throw their phones around like hockey pucks.

Brian Tufo says:

I'm not and have never been a fan of Otterbox. It makes sleek and slim phones into giant bulky phones. I'm rocking a white bumper and sometimes naked. If something should happen to it I'll live it's just a phone and can be fixed or replaced.

ThisBrian says:

No case just invisishield, keeps it thin and scratchless.

Keisuke says:

Actually Gino I'm completely right. In japan. Where the customer is always WRONG. The market Rene ignores in thinking no major market outside the US software locks their iPhones to a carrier.
Yes it's a huge market. No they don't speak English. Yes, it's a far bigger market than England and Canada combined.

Mikye says:

Everyone would benefit from reiadng this post

Myspace.com/Nyce_Daytona says:

The Griffin Reveal case is the BEST on the market IMO. Though i own one I use it about 25% of the time. Usually when I know I'm going into a "high risk" enviroment that I may drop it by accident. The other 75% I go case free. The phone just looks amazing that way.

Bob Marley14 says:

@Keisuke. The "jerkwad" reference alone got you into my Hall of Fame. Very nice!
As in EVERYTHING, protection is a good thing. Especially for you promiscuous types out there.....

unchew says:

i use the incase slider really like it and the stand is a nice plus i keep that at work. would like to see the comment thread talk about what case they use and why so people can add value to the article instead of mindless smack talk that doesn't serve a purpose.

InfinityX says:

Youtube seems to have chosen a very unflattering frame of Rene to preview for that video.

gatorsrule2424 says:

I have a Incase snap case its really awesome and good from protecting scratches and scuffs it also doesnt make my iphone bulky and heavy

fastlane says:

@James T:
Yeah, my iPhone came in a box. I still don't see your point. Rings come in boxes, watches come in boxes, eyeglasses come in boxes. You still aren't making any point, whatsoever. :shock:
As for everyone saying their phones are in cases for re-sale value; I guess you all missed the part where I wrote that mine were all mint when I sold them because I had them in a pouch when they weren't in use. You're still missing the whole point that once it's in your hand, it should be safe from anything else touching it (unless you're too careless to own anything of value). :roll:
And nobody has yet explained why they don't have their other valuables in cases while they're being used, and the reason for such inconsistent behavior.
Anyone out there covering their $200 boots when they wear them? Anyone out there protecting their expensive earrings with rubber covers in case they fall to the ground? Anyone..... Anyone?

petaf says:

+1 for ifrogz slide on case (black), even though sliders are a no-no according to Apple. I have to say I hate using film skins and always end up ripping 'em off, I like my glass naked! :-)

DBox says:

Been trollin' with my naked 3GS since 2009.
Bite me!

unixvrules says:

It must just be me then. The iPhone 4 is awkward to hold. It's too thin and too flat. The 3GS has a carve that made it easy to hd naked. So a mophie juice pack for my iPhone 4 makes it easy to hold. The battery add is just gravy. Its a tad longer. I have an acrylic case when I need to be pedestrian. Dropped it twice already both times with the acrylic case on it. It saved me I'm sure.
Butterfingers or clumsy, I just seem to try to do too many things at once when I have my iPhone in my hand. Case is absolutely necessary even when you try to treat these like prized jewels accidents happen in busy lives.

Tyler says:

Fastlane makes good points.

kumar k says:

i'm naked... i mean my iPhone 4... :)

Ilovegeorgia says:

i was a naked man but i just got a cafepress custom case, it looks amazing so imma stick with it ;)

Entertainment72 says:

My iPhone is pretty much naked. Concerning scratching the back of the iPhone, it has been my experience most cases scratch the back anyways.

Allen M. says:

I had this same dilemma when I first got my iPhone 4. I have been through a number of cases including the Smrtwallet case as well as the Seidio spring clip holster, but didn't find anything that really fit the bill for me. My solution came in the form of a carbon fiber skin (and included steinheil screen protector) from sgpstore.com and a white OEM Apple bumper. Ever since, I've been getting nothing but compliments and the security that my phone is well protected. Just my two cents.

Michael says:

What about battery cases? I use battery case becuase I use my iPhone a lot everyday.

colton says:

Otterbox Commuter all the way for me ;)

iUG says:

The case from Karas Kustoms. Highly recommend! Looks really COOL!

padu says:

i have installed a zagg invisible shield so it looks naked but it isnt and im pretty happy with it instead of casing the whole phone.

Richard Hauser says:

You'd be crazy NOT to get a case for an iPhone 4. Those are TRANSMITTING antannas you are holding. Forget FCC regulations, this is the ONLY DEVICE IN HISTORY to be careless enough to allow physical contact with a transmitting antenna for safety issues. Seriously GET A CASE.