In his iPhone 5 review, John Gruber says this about the phone + case dynamic:
[T]his is a phone that was meant to be used without a case.
After spending some time with the iPhone 5 -- at the store and with my little sister’s -- I have no basis onto which to dispute Gruber’s sentiments. The aluminum unibody design is as functional as it is beautiful. As a daily user of the iPhones 4 and 4S the last couple years, I can attest that the iPhone 5s I’ve held in my hands feel decidedly better. And it’s not just a tactile sensation; more than just the thinness and weight, the iPhone 5 feels better psychologically. Which is to say, the aluminum enclosure is more reassuring insofar that it should, theoretically, sustain a drop or bump much better than the iPhones 4 and 4S with their all-glass design. All of this affirm Gruber’s stance that Apple designed the iPhone 5 to nakedly live life.
And yet, for as much as that makes sense, I can’t bring myself to use my iOS devices sans protection, at least when I’m on the go. Frankly, I’m too paranoid that my phone would accidentally slip out of my hand, only to crash-land on a not-so-soft surface. I couldn’t care less about “showing off” by letting the iPhone be some sort of status symbol, showing to the world that I use Apple gear; that’s not even a consideration for me. The thought of my $650 smartphone1 being dinged up and thus ruining its aesthetic is almost too much to bear. I understand and appreciate the industrial design of the thing: the aluminum unibody makes it robust and all that, but I just don’t want to tempt fate. So long as I’m away from my house, my phone will live in a case. Take away my nerd card if you must, but that’s how I feel and I’m not to be swayed otherwise. At home, however, is a completely different story. One of the first things I do when I get home is take my phone out of its case. The majority of my house is covered in carpeting, so I’m not worried about damage should my phone take a tumble or two. Hence, going caseless at home is perfectly acceptable. But, again, when it’s time to run off somewhere, the case immediately goes back on for safekeeping.
The iPad, though, is interesting. I’m probably the only person on the planet who actually likes Apple’s Smart Case, and my iPad 3 lives in it probably 99% of the time. I only remove the case when I want to use my iPad with the Origami Workstation. Once I’m done, it goes right back into the case. Even at home, I don’t bother to remove the case; I don’t know why that is. I keep telling myself I should use the iPad naked just as I do the iPhone, but I just never bother. Maybe it’s just pure laziness, but I think it’s an interesting contradiction. Regardless, I case the iPad for the same reason I case the iPhone: safety. I want it looking nice, not beat up.
So goes the moral of this story. I case to protect against too much wear and tear.
iPhones are subsidized by the carriers. $199 isn’t the actual price of the device. ↩