There is quite a case for cases. Ever since smartphone design fully embraced the slate shape, people have been preoccupied with putting their product into a piece of plastic (or other material). The sheer number of cases available for any given device is impressive, but just look at a more mainstream device like the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the One series, and the selection is just short of startling.
While many of us do, in fact, use cases, there are also those who prefer not to. These people like to go “naked”; to display their device in the nude. In this feature, we will break the case culture down to four basic types of consumers in an effort to determine just why cases are so important to smartphone users.
Protection at all costs
One of the largest segment of case owners are those individuals who purchase a case for purposes of protection. This might be from a sheer cosmetic point of view (to prevent scratches or damage), or it might be from a more basic need (someone who is clumsy and might drop their phone often).
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Users who obsess about keeping their phones perfect go over products with a fine-toothed comb. These individuals are the ones who will return an item continuously until they get one that is absolutely perfect. It is not uncommon to read their doings on sites like XDA Developers or Reddit where they will often complain about poor quality control issues or frustration about things such as an earpiece receiver that isn’t properly aligned or a 1mm scratch along the bezel of the Galaxy S6 Edge.
This extreme attention to detail may be derived from several motivating factors, including the desire to resale the product later, high expectations of quality control due to the expensive nature of the product, or else simply genuine “OCD,” wherein the user’s state of mental well-being is fixated on the presence of a flaw.
Long term usage
Another category are those users interested in long-term usage: users who don’t obsess over damage but who do want to protect their phone are likely to be those who plan to use their product for a long period of time. These individuals aren’t necessarily concerned with having the latest and greatest, but rather a single product that works well for years, even beyond the span of the device contract itself.
For these users, a case is essential as it will prevent drops and major damage that might otherwise jeopardize the product’s life span or functionality.
Fine for fashion
The other main type of case consumer may approach the prospect of cases from a more superficial perspective: adding some visual flair to their product. If a product starts to feel old, one sure-fire way to reinvigorate it is to stick it into a case, preferably one that totally alters the look or feel of a device. Likewise, adding a case means that you can accessorize: it can match your needs and styles.
A case makes sense because it’s a relatively inexpensive way to make a statement, or to make something more personal. Someone who covets the color orange might be upset that their favorite flavor doesn’t get much love in the design department, but with the purchase of some protection, suddenly there is an ode to orange. “Fashionistas” might have a separate case for each day of the week (or month) or else seek to coordinate the case with their clothing or even the activity they are doing. Perhaps a night out on the town calls for a more rugged case, a bike ride in Central Park a more sporty one, or a romantic date a more subdued mellow one.
Nude. Not prude
The final “archetypal” customer is the person who doesn’t care about cases. This might stem from a desire to show off the design or build of their purchase. Perhaps they had a case to begin with but the product was scratched and therefore they wanted to go au naturel. Perhaps they never had a case but still try to keep their phone in mint condition.
Alternatively, this type of behavior might stem from a simple lack of interest in the condition of the product itself, viewing a phone as more of a tool than anything else. It is likely this type didn’t pay full price for the product (i.e. it was purchased on-contract) or else they have a lot of money to spare and just don’t care. The idea of someone paying $1000+ for a factory unlocked Galaxy S6 Edge and then treating it like garbage would be a fascinating find indeed.
If you have ever seen someone with a truly beaten up, battered phone, chances are they fit into this category. While you might feel sorry for the damaged device, they probably couldn’t care less.
How about you?
Cases are a curious craft. While we have examined four basic types of users/behaviors, this is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it meant to conclude anything about a person’s habits or thinking. At the end of the day, everyone has different needs and those needs may (or may not) be met with the coddling of a case.
What about you, the reader? Why do/don’t you use a case? Be sure to take the survey below, and leave us a comment with your own reasoning or horror stories about cases.