Thursday, 9 February 2017

Keeping your phone safe in an uncaring world



Credit: N-Tech


The Gadgeteer – “What is the worst thing to happen to your mobile phone?”
http://the-gadgeteer.com/2016/03/17/what-is-the-worst-thing-to-happen-to-your-mobile-phone/

Take home message from the article above, is that the major dangers to your phone are being dropped onto a hard surface, or submerged under water.

Part of the problem arises from the materials used in making phones. If I'm carrying hundreds of dollars worth of hardware, that I depend on for a large & growing list of functions, I'd prefer something with the resilience of a basketball. That's not going to happen, but a minimum of glass, & replacing metal with shock-absorbing plastic would be a good start.

On the other hand, for most people, functionality dictates a minimum of a 3.5 inch diagonal screen, & probably the most popular size is around 5 inches – either way, that's quite a lot of glass.

Manufacturers & reviewers seem to have agreed that a, “premium”, phone should contain as much glass & metal as possible – in some cases, including metal covered with glass at the back.

Look at the image above – there's a good chance that a case would have prevented the carnage. Problem with cases is that for many people, after choosing a phone with skinny-jeans-compatibility, making the phone bigger by adding a case doesn’t appeal. If this sounds like you, take another look at the image above …

If you are still committed to the skinniest phone, you may be interested in the Naked Case – essentially the plastic used in plastic screen protectors extended to cover the entire phone. Such a case won't absorb an impact, but will reduce the chance of screen breakage & provide protection against scratches.

The Gadgeteer – “Naked Case for the iPhone 7/7+ review”
http://the-gadgeteer.com/2016/10/24/naked-case-for-the-iphone-77-review/

Naked Cases web site
https://nakedcases.com/

Another type of minimal, “case”, protects just the corners. Check this:



Bumprz don't appear to have made it to production, but Rmour seems to apply the same principles. Crowd funding has closed, but your can pre-order.

Kickstarter – “Rmour: Silver case for Your iPhone 7 & 7 Plus
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/48548502/rmour-silver-case-for-your-iphone-7-and-7-plus/description

Rmour manufacturer's web site
http://www.rmour-creatio.com/

Rmour is only available for the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus, but it does illustrate two important principles in protecting any phone in a fall:
● protect the corners

● prevent the screen from touching the ground – in addition to covering the corner, each Rmour covers a small part of the front & back of the phone – if it falls face down, the phone is supported at the corners, & the screen doesn't actually impact the ground


If you are looking for a minimal phone case, look for something with:
● good corner protection

● a ridge in front of the screen that will touch down before the screen – this will protect the screen in a fall & any time you put it face down – check the image below



Credit: Otterbox

If your are serious about protection, a good place to start is to buy a phone from Apple or Samsung, as they are generally best supported by case manufacturers. It's early days, but support for Google's Pixel is looking good too.

Some rules of thumb
● more popular phones are better supported by case manufacturers (surprise!)
● more expensive phones are better supported by case manufacturers

● older phones are poorly supported – manufacturers generally do one, or a small number of production runs, & then sell from stock

● its worth checking cases before you buy the phone

In my experience, the most protective cases come from LifeProof & OtterBox. (LifeProof was acquired by Otterbox in 2013,1 but, at lest at the design level, they operate as separate entities, with no overlap in their catalogues.) Check their sites for cases offering a range of protection, bulk & price. If you want waterproof, LifeProof is your best bet. This is becoming less important, though, as there is a growing trend for phone manufacturers to make the phones themselves waterproof.

Otterbox
https://www.otterbox.com/

LifeProof
https://www.lifeproof.com/

Best way to protect your phone from a fall is to not drop it in the first place. A case can help here too – grippy is better.

Why it's importance to place your phone face down
Look at the image at the top of this post again – notice that the cracks all radiate from a central point – the point of impact – either from the phone falling on something – or something falling on the phone. You can protect your screen from something falling on it by placing it face down – but check the surface. Paper, desk top, carpet, bed, all OK, but something more abrasive, no. Once again, a case with a ridge in front of the screen that will touch down before the screen, helps.

Lifehacker – “Five Foolproof Ways To Protect Your Phone's Screen”
https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/02/five-foolproof-ways-to-avoid-a-cracked-phone-screen/
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1 Wikipedia: “LifeProof”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LifeProof
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