Why I Stopped Using My Phone Case

Recently my phone case broke for my Samsung Galaxy A5-2017. The cheap plastic and rubber case had finally given way to wear and tear.

The issue actually started 2 years ago when I had first noticed a tear in the case’s frame. The tear was inconvenient, but not detrimental to the use of the case. Then, a month ago, a large chunk of plastic snapped off along with my beloved case (kick)stand.

In frustration, I chucked the whole thing in the bin.

A suboptimal online shopping experience

For a short while I pondered what to do next. It seemed obvious: time to hit the spammy, bloated phone case webshops and look for a new case.

It’s the part I always dread. Finding a good phone case is hard and my grievances are many. To begin with:

  • Phone cases are needlessly expensive considering the often dirt-poor quality of the product.

  • Very few phone cases are aesthetically pleasing. Even if you do happen to find a stylish case, online photos can be deceiving. Frankly, you never know what you will get, until it’s in your hands.

  • Occasionally cases don’t fit right, but you won’t know until you try the case. For example, I once bought 2 cases that were identical in the webstore except for color. One case fit perfectly, while the other was too small and barely fit my phone. The tight fit strained the case; it failed within 2 months.

  • Sometimes I wonder, to what extend do phone cases really protect your phone? They seem more useful for increasing your grip than protecting against drops. Intuitively, big bulky silicone cases will provide more protection than thin plastic ones. But no one really knows for sure and it’s been a while since drop test videos on YouTube have trended. Until evidence is provided by case manufacturers, the case for cases may just be a marketing ploy à la insurance to make you feel more secure about your phone, but not much more than that.

  • Imagine that the webshop you visited does have the perfect case for you. Good luck finding it between all the other trash. Before you find it, you’ll have wasted a day of your time and wonder if it was worth it.

Of course, most of these problems do not apply to physical stores. However, these stores suffer from the lack of variety they are able to provide, lest your phone belongs to the top-segment of a big brand. My phone is from a big brand but, alas, is merely mid-segment.

Then it struck me

What if I don’t use my phone case? What if I go #caseless?

Originally, the thought of doing something so rebellious prevented me from thinking clearly. In fact, the thought only manifested itself in my subconscious.

There was no reasoning, only intuition. The kind of intuition our primal ancestors may have had when they first decided to throw a dead animal onto a campfire, and thereby invent cooking. The kind of unintellectual intuition that arises every now and then to ask, why not?

3 reasons why

For the past month I have been using my phone without a case, and I absolutely love it.

It has taken me a month to realize why. A month for my subconscious thoughts to transcend into the conscious. Here they are:

  1. What was one of the reasons I bought my phone in the first place? Aesthetics. If a phone is to be part of my lifestyle and identity, it has to look sleek, tight, anything but bad. With such an attitude you would expect to have something to show for it, but nothing is further from the truth. For the past 4 years my phone had carefully been hidden away from the world in a case. It has been a waste of the endearing design features on the basis of which I had chosen to buy my phone. No more, I now enjoy my phone’s lightweight aesthetics to the fullest.

  2. My phone is old. Its battery barely gets me through the day and Samsung has added copious amounts of bloatware. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m cheap and not a fan of the current phones on the market, I would have likely bought a new phone already. Likewise, my phone used to be circa €400 new, but after 4 years I’d be lucky to get €100 for it. Therefore, based on the value of my phone and my previous intentions to replace it, I will not be counting my losses if my phone happens to break. So, might as well go caseless.

  3. It was hard enough finding a good case for my phone originally, it’s even harder now that my phone is old and out of production. Really, phone cases are only needed en masse when a new phone model is released and upto a year thereafter. People who haven’t bought a case by then will be less inclined to buy one much later–they’ll just replace their phone instead. As goes the consumer, so goes the vendor. No vendors will hold stock of a product that does not sell. Circumventing market forces is a fool’s errand. In the end, not buying a case is a way to avoid it all.

A not too distant decade ago phones were robust

They were tanks, improvised bottle openers, or literal bricks (Nokia 3310 meme anyone?). Back then, phones didn’t need cases. Cases hadn’t even been properly invented yet. In fact, with the ability to replace batteries yourself, the phone’s case was the phone itself.

The smartphone took that all away from us. The fear of scratching or breaking your new multi-hundred dollar phone made sure of that. Consequently, that fear has only become stronger as newer phones have become ever thinner, more compacted, and continue to use brittle materials like glass.

That is not to say that I don’t like it the new phones. But what’s the point in all that innovation if it is to be covered up again with a low quality (or high quality, for that matter) plastic or silicone case?

The part where I suggest you do the same

Go caseless, do it, for a week or a month. And see how it makes you feel.

Obviously, don’t do this if you just bought a new €1500 iPhone, in that case the risk isn’t worth the pay off.

Also, make sure to backup your phone before going caseless. Your phone is replaceable, but its contents are not.

But do try it if your phone is a couple years old, or if you have started considering replacing your phone. You might just gain a new found appreciation for you old phone.

Indeed, phones are meant to be appreciated for their design as much as their functionality. It reminds me of Marie Kondo, the famous Japanese organizing consultant, who, when determining whether to get rid of something, advises us to ask ourselves the question: Does this [object] spark joy?

Phone cases do not spark joy.

Caseless phones do spark joy.