I recently purchased a Nokia Lumia 800, the beautifully slick Windows Phone that was released in late 2011. Fast, with an 8 MP camera, the AMOLED display is a slight let-down compared to the full LCD I was used to on my previous device, but with such a competent piece of design this didn’t matter.
Of course, for £400 (UK price) I wanted to keep the device safe from damage, wear and tear. After all, smartphones can be dropped, or at best smeared with finger grease.
The threats facing mobile phones have become so numerous that manufacturers have started providing cases with the devices.
Sadly these are little more than an afterthought – something that is particularly ridiculous when you consider the importance of these accessories.
The Benefits of a Case
After all, the benefits of cases and screen protectors are obvious. They’re going to extend the life of your phone or tablet, so using one makes sense.
Whether it is a rubberized housing for your phone to protect the sides from scratches or a triple-configuration case and stand combination case for your tablet, the basic idea is for these accessories to protect your investment while retaining its usability.
There are cases that are poorly made and provided by third parties and device manufacturers. Naturally these should be avoided, along with those that cover vital controls and ports and slots.
When combined with a screen protector, therefore the case is of absolute importance to the safety and value of your mobile device.
Which begs the question, why do manufacturers bother giving us free but useless, cheap cases?
What Is this Strip of Leather?
In the case of the Nokia Lumia 800, a small rubber case to protect the sides of the phone – in a light blue finish that matches the phone itself – is provided. While useful, it isn’t the best free case I’ve seen; it certainly isn’t the worst.
That prize must surely go to the old HTC Touch Diamond, a small Windows Mobile device I purchased several years ago which was accompanied by a pointless drawstring cloth bag, ideal for polishing the screen and little else.
HTC was also the source of the lame leather pouch that shipped with my HD7. Initially I had been happy with the accessory, satisfied that it kept the rain off and cleaned the finger grease from the screen whenever the phone was slipped into the soft fluffy interior. That is, until the pouch decided to malfunction and throw my phone across a hospital car park on the day my wife went into labour – at the most inopportune time!
HTC certainly are not the worst for this. LG don’t even bother with any protection for their phones in many cases, and the same goes for Samsung.
Why Does My Phone Need a Screen Protector?
One thing that completely baffles me about smartphones is the fact that the displays are so sensitive that they require a screen protector to avoid scratches and damage.
Application of these slips of plastic can be quite tricky, with air bubbles often finding their way between the protector and the display.
But let’s think about this for a moment. Several mobile phone components are manufactured in sensitive conditions, some in a vacuum. If the displays are so sensitive, why aren’t the phones and tablets shipping with screen protectors already attached?
In fact, why aren’t competent quality cases provided either?
The Varying Quality of the Third Party Market
The smart money would be on this answer being very simple – because there is a market in third party accessories.
Of course there is. These can, I guess, help to support the sale of accessories by the manufacturer. The iPad, for instance, is a cash cow for many companies, not just Apple, with every online, high street and shopping park store offering various cases from rubberized enclosures to flimsy pouches.
Sadly some of these are of poor quality, something that can impact the user experience considerably.
And this is my main point. While there might be plenty of choice, there is arguably too much. Screen protectors and cases for phones and tablets are of varying quality. If the best option is to stick with those provided by the manufacturer, what’s the point of the third party market?
Indeed, what’s the point of offering them separately?
Include Quality Cases, Manufacturers!
We can easily see from the popular examples of the iPad and the iPhone that manufacturers know how to make really good accessories, so why not include them with the device?
You’re probably thinking “so they can make extra on the sales” but if this is the case, why allow buyers to risk their expensive hardware by opting for cheaper alternatives that they don’t make money on?
Surely the most cynical answer to that question – that consumers will buy another device – can’t be true?
If Apple, Nokia and others are to offer well made, high-performance hardware for everyday use then they should be bound by obligation (if not duty) to provide protective accessories of considerable excellence within the price of the smartphone or tablet.
Image Credit:Leather Case Image Via Shutterstock