Making the case for going case-less

By , Nov 23, 2012

I decided to go completely case-less. Most of you guys probably think I already do that, since I never have a case on my devices when I’m filming a new video.

But that, as it turns out, hasn’t been so. I used to only keep my iPhone nude for aesthetic purposes on film. As soon as I hit the shutter release on my camera to stop filming, back in the case she went.

Then I read something that changed my perspective on things. After seeing this post by John Gruber, I started thinking. Why are we so obsessed with encapsulating our devices in protective covering? Aren’t we ridding ourselves of the pleasure of using it as it was intended and designed to be used?

I decided to embark on an experiment. One that could prove costly, but at the same time provide me with a since of liberation. I was going to go case-less…

That was two months ago, and I’ve never looked back. It’s hard for me to imagine ever going back to using a case after using my iPhone 5 without one for the last two months.

I will admit that I have yet to throw caution completely to the wind, not yet at least. I purchased AppleCare+ just in case my phone is cosmetically damaged to the point where it bothers me. I’ve also placed a thin square patch of film on the back on my slate iPhone 5, because the anodized aluminum is so prone to scratches. That being said, it’s barely even there, and it’s certainly not providing me with any real protection in the event of a catastrophic drop.

I’ve received some pretty funny responses from friends, family, and even random strangers upon them seeing my case-less iPhone 5.

“You must be pretty brave to do that,” noted one stranger in a local Starbucks.

“That’s insane!” proclaimed an OtterBox obsessed friend.

I get comments like these every so often, and they usually come from the same folks that have cases so large that you can’t even tell what type of phone it is without glancing at the UI.

Just a few months ago, I would have at least sympathized with them, but now I think they’re downright ridiculous for covering up such a fine piece of hardware. They pay all of this money for a device, and they don’t even get to touch it, can’t even feel it, and can barely see it. It all seems silly to me now.

Of course, going case-less has its downsides. For one, it’s inevitable that you phone will suffer from a few scratches here and there. These scratches are largely unnoticeable without a thorough examination of the device, or without the sun hitting it at just the right angle, but they’re there.

The slate iPhone 5, as you know, is prone to scuffs due to the anodized aluminum coating. I’m a victim of “scuffgate“, and I do notice more than a few areas on my iPhone where the bare metal is showing beneath the coating. Again, it’s not something that’s immediately discernible, but a close up view will reveal the imperfections.

I have to admit, at first, I was kind of annoyed with the hairline scratches on the screen, or the scuffs on the aluminum housing. I began to second guess the rightness of my decision to go without a case. But then I got to thinking, I really use my iPhone. I mean I really use it. As someone who blogs about iOS devices for a living, I put my iPhone through more stress than the average iPhone owner. It truly is a testament to the design of the device, that I only have the few scratches and scuffs that I do.

I’ve dropped my iPhone on a hardwood floor multiple times. I lay it face down or face up on virtually any surface. I’m always placing it in my pocket with keys and other potentially dangerous objects, and yet, it still looks virtually brand new.

All things considered, I do not regret my decision to go case-less one bit; not one iota. It’s such a liberating feeling to be able to directly interface with your device without any barriers. You don’t have to worry about cases interfering with the camera, or being too bulky. You get to truly enjoy an item, which by its very nature, is truly meant to uninhibitedly touched.

If you’re on the fence about going case-less, here’s my advice: get Apple Care+, just and do it. Dont look back. It’s just a device after all, it’s not life or death. For $99, you will have the peace of mind knowing that if you somehow disfigure your iPhone beyond your tolerance, you can always take it into an Apple store and get it fixed or replaced.

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  • David Villamizar

    I learned to reserve a pocket just for the iPhone, so I don’t scratch it with keys or anything. After a year and a half, my iPhone 4 looks kinda good for a device that old, but the screen has some scratches doesn’t affect the picture quality at all, but that are noticeable when the display is off; in the back… the second replacement has a crack…

  • AltF5

    I went with small cases: Incipio Feather, and also a “screen protector” from Case mate (AT&T) until I dropped it on the ground when getting out of the car, because my phone was in my lap, and I had disconnected it from my Stereo. The screen shattered in a massive amount of cracks, and I was devastated (The only thing the screen protector does is like a car windshield: just holds the glass shards together). I now use Incipio NGP because of the corner pads to buffer the face-down impact, and Glas.t. Has dropped a few times on less rough surfaces (Hard wood floors), without anything (luckily). But of course the true test would be if that horrible incident ever happens again when getting out of the car.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506736784 Tad Tsang

    To all the people who put big bulky cases on their newest electronics, has it ever occurred to you the amount of money on research and development that underwent just to knock off that 1-2mm from the last generation, and here you go putting on a case that doubles the weight and size of your device. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. If our generation of phones were meant to be big and heavy, then the electronics companies would have designed our gadgets that way

  • Christina Bryan

    My phone has been nekkid since it was a 3g. /inb4hipsterelite

  • http://www.youtube.com/RocketSledder77 Michael Noriega

    I decided not to get a case after watching how durable the iPhone 5 is in all those drop test videos. But I did decide to get Ghost Armor to protect my beautiful “snow” iPhone from scratches and I am perfectly happy with it.

  • Uzman N

    its easy to say that when one has enough money to purchase a new one

  • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

    I love it when people have a case on their phone and they finally take out after maybe a year of having the case on and it ends up being all scratched up from dust that got trapped under and not being cleaned for months. They look worse than people with naked phones XD

  • http://www.StreetTech.info/ Nicholas L Aranda

    You do realize that EVEN WITH apple care you STILL have to pay a co-payment in order to get a replacement?

    • Thorasgard

      So I went with the Best Buy $229 2yr plan. No deductibles and unlimited incidents. 2 incidents on Applecare cost $200 and then you are left with no coverage. It covers normal wear and tear and they will replace to body as well. BB will give you a loaner, but I can use my old 4 while I wait for repair. Of course I am screwed if BB goes under.

      I love how it feels naked in my pocket. I am having trouble typing without a case however. It is just to narrow to get the edge keys comfortably and still hold the phone securely and my hands are not large.

      • http://www.StreetTech.info/ Nicholas L Aranda

        BestBuy is NOT going under. This is a myth as the company was going through soo many changes and actually had a hiring lock. That’s why we were stuck with employees with no passion to help the company. But that lock has been lifted and every store is getting amazingly passionate employees who actually know and love product as well as helping each and every customer. As far as BestBuy’s closing: look at the areas that are going down. We aren’t taking down the most profitable stores, were closing the ones in areas that have many problems and unfortunate events. We smashed at Black Friday! I can’t tell you how much we made, but let me tell you: a company that did as well as just one store in one district is not going down any time soon. So you can relax knowing that the 2yr geek squad protection plan that you purchased will always be there for you and you will always be able to renew it!

  • http://twitter.com/joeyjohari Joey Johari

    I’ve never use any case since my 3G …love the iPhone as it is…

  • http://www.facebook.com/franckamayou Franck Kamayou

    Just one thing, AppleCare+ is required to be purchased at the time of purchase of the phone.

    • Chris

      No. You get thirty days to decide.

  • http://twitter.com/Mallouk_ Mallouk Malek

    i did it since my iphone 4 :D… glad for u to join the club :D.
    we buy to use not to cover ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/shahnawaz.hussain.581 Shahnawaz Hussain

    i agree jeff m also caseless with my iPhone 5 but still there are some peoples who almost broke out after buying an iPhone and cant afford another phone in the upcoming years so for them case and bumpers are a good option.
    we money freaks just don’t care about scratches.

  • http://twitter.com/setaneka Bisikan Syaiton

    I went raw and no one seems to notice. Now I’m wondering wether I’m living in the world where people just don’t care.

  • DomPerignon1

    I rather be safe than sorry and I love my Lifeproof case!… And my iPhone? Oh yes; it is 100% scratch free and I don’t care about keys, coins, shocks, drops, water, mud or anything!

  • http://twitter.com/timhengeveld Tim Hengeveld

    I did the same thing when the iPhone 5 came out. It completely rekindled my love for the beautiful design of the 4S and took away any upgrade jitters. And zero scratches since. I recommend the caseless lifestyle.

  • Sidney Velado

    The reality is, as beautiful as the product is, in countries outside of the US, its a very expensive phone. People protect it not for looks but because they can’t really afford a new one

  • SuperchargedNL

    I got an iPhone because I love the design. The only protection I use on my iPhone (4) is a Invisibleshield on the back and a Glass.t screen protector on the touchscreen and that’s only because I put it in my pocket and that’s usually also where I put my keys.
    If you don’t want it scratched or damaged, leave it in the box and put it in a vault somewhere.

    I always try to avoid it but it’s an object that I use every day and if it gets damaged in the process, so be it.

    Just think; if the scratches get too bad, that’s an excellent excuse to get the new model iPhone a year later… ;)

  • Guest

    I need a case for my iphone5 because I work at airport doing loading heavy bag’s

  • dd0723

    There’s nothing that I love more than to have my iphone naked a much as I can. However I know I’m clumsy, and can drop it any time.

    Now here’s my main reason for covering up my iPhones. I buy my iPhones through bestbuy so I can purchase their protection plan, which by the way, is way more forgiving than apple care. Bestbuy has a buy-back program. So when I put a cover on the iPhone, I get more of the value than I would anywhere else… Case in point, 3 weeks ago I turned in my old iphone 4, and 3GS and got almost full price for it. I got my brand new iPhone 5 for only $15, and I have the receipt to prove it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380073379 Quang Truong

      And how much did you spend on your protector?

      • dd0723

        Only $10. $5 for the clear cover for the front and back of the phone itself, and $5 for the actual cover similar to the otter case.
        I’ve already dropped the phone twice since my first post, and is totally fine.

  • http://proj3ctmoi.tumblr.com/ goodcoffy

    same here. I’ve gone case- less totally nude without the screen protectors of the invisible shield. The iPhone 5 is too beautiful to cover up that artistic work and craftsmanship.

  • Justin H

    Jeff, I suggest you get either Ghost Armor or what I have, iCarbon.
    Doesn’t bulk up the device at all, protects from all scratches except for the bezel, and best of all, NO CASE!

  • http://twitter.com/therealjdizzle Jason Masters

    Where you by any chance on Vicodin when you had this nude epiphany lol?

  • http://www.facebook.com/zurab.parchiev Zurab Parchiev

    iphone 4s, no case, no regrates as well)

  • http://www.facebook.com/reivax.bernard Xavier Bernard

    True. For example I had my iPad 1 covered for so long when i took off the case i revisited the magnificent, original design and material… :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=769615084 Peter Di Martino

    Jeff i have gone iphone nude this weekend and thanks to you i do not think i will look back too.

  • http://twitter.com/randomprice Sol Estravís

    Same here, Jeff. A couple of months ago, an article changed the way I looked at cases and never looked back. Caseless feels much better and I’m happy I’m using my iPhone the way it was intended. I use screen and back protectors to avoid scratches too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    i use a case to prevent my screen from shattering.. and any owner of a black iphone needs a case due to that phones crappie finnish

  • http://twitter.com/webpain Milt

    Not even a screen protector? A good screen protector does not affect the usability of the iPhone and goes almost unnoticed. I have a front and back screen protector for my 4S and no case or bumper or what-so-ever…

  • David

    I stopped using cases when I bought Invisible Shields for my iPhone

  • Iain

    I started using my iPhone 5 caseless 2 days ago. Its the best thing ever. I’m experiencing the full apple experience. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Aletz_08 Alex Barrera™

    It would be great if you tell us how is your iPhone today, because by now have been passed like 6-7 months. So it would be great to know how is your caseless iPhone

    • dd0723

      Mine is actually still mint without a case, but I take care of my stuff. If I could post some pictures I will. I’m still very happy not using a case.

      • http://twitter.com/Aletz_08 Alex Barrera™

        Yeah mine too, actually it have a scratch made with a f*cking “slim case” so since day 2 i have been using nude and today have passed like 4 months…

  • Tan Zhi Kai

    I’m not a victim of scuffgate, but I keep it in a case when in rough environments.