The cool kids in iPhone commercials may be sporting their new mobiles in all of their gleaming glory, but let’s be realistic, the thing is made of glass and delicate electronics. Most of us invest in a case that offers some protection, or at the very least, some personal style. But there are plenty of iPhone cases out there that do more than look good while covering your precious phone. Some cases double as a charger or a stand or a projector or a beer opener. Check these out. They may make you rethink your next case.
LifeProof: $79.99. Otterbox has dominated the tough case scene for a long time. But unlike it name suggests, the Otter is not waterproof -- a downside many owners have been lamenting. Now a new, lighter and slimmer cover is on the rise. LifeProof cases are waterproof, dirt proof, shock proof, and even snow proof. Adventure-friendly accessories like a bike mount or an arm band for running or swimming are available.
ThirdRail System: $89.99. When the iPhone 4S was first released, outrage over its battery issues created some positive gains for battery-boosting products like ThirdRail. The system is a slim protective case that latches onto an iPhone and boosts the battery when necessary. The package comes with an extra external battery that attaches to the outside of the case to charge as well. When not being used for charging, the case is unobtrusive and allows users to access all buttons and ports.
Griffin Woogie: $19.99. It’s unsettling to see a toddler playing with an iPhone. First of all, it's just as easy to give them a book and secondly, what if they break it? The best distraction that will also guarantee your kid doesn’t wreck the phone is Woogie 2. Woogie is a soft cuddly stuffed monster that an iPhone fits into. Adding the app to the phone makes the doll interactive and a much better playmate for your little tyke.
360-Degree Rotating Stand
Zerochroma Teatro-S: $39.99. A case that doubles as a stand is great, but a case that doubles as a stand that rotates 360-degrees? Genius. Zerochroma’s cases have stands that rotate 360-degrees with 14 different viewing positions that make it the ideal case for Facetime, video watching, typing and everything else you do on your phone. The case is also lightweight, shock- and scratch-proof and lined with felt to keep the glass shiny and new.
iCarte 420: $54.95. If you’d like to engage in some shopping of the future, hook up your iPhone to the iCarte. It’s a case that has a radio frequency identification (RFID) reader and writer that creates a two-way contactless signal based on the near-field communication standard. This makes it possible to use the phone as a payment method at any store that has PayPass. If only it had a special spot for a driver's license, then you wouldn’t need to carry around that pesky uni-tasking wallet.
BoxWave Keyboard Buddy: $89.95. The fact that iPhones don't come with a physical keyboard makes them sleek and stylish, but let's face it, it can be somewhat annoying for text input. BoxWave's Keyboard Buddy iPhone 4 Case is the perfect tactile remedy. The form-fitting shell has cutouts for using the camera with the keyboard in or out. Its battery, which charges separately by Micro-USB, can last up to two weeks. It connects via Bluetooth. And the nicely backlit keyboard includes smooth, rounded keys, a few of which are dedicated to home, backlight toggling and brightness adjustments. But our favorite is the keyboard toggle -- gotta love that extra screen real estate while typing!
Pico Genie: $326.98. Actually, "double-duty" is a bit of misnomer here. Cause the Pico Genie A100 really serves four functions: Case, 2-watt speaker, extended 1900mAh battery and 12-lumen DLP projector. Since it doesn't fully wrap around the phone, it's meant as more of a stylish accessory than an all-out rugged protective case. But clearly that's outweighed by the coolness factor of being able to throw a 60-inch image for up to three hours of audio-enhanced video playback.
Trtl Bot Minimalist: $29.95. Okay, maybe "wallet" is a bit of a strong term. After all, the eco-friendly Trtl Bot Minimalist, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, only has room enough to hold an ID and two other cards. But then again, what else do you need? Who carries actual cash, receipts and baby pictures anymore? Who are you, George Castanza? Minimal, baby. That's the way to go.
Gizmon iCA iPhone Case: $65. As it protects your $800 phone, the very durable Polycarbonate Gizmon iCA iPhone Case makes it look like a less expensive vintage camera. It's a little kitschy, but very catchy. The real catch, however, is that it functions. In other words, it does come with two fake lenses (one realistic looking, one slim enough to fit in your pocket). But you can attach actual working macro and fisheye lenses -- and the case's shutter button works! Available in black, brown or white, it comes with a soft bag and cute little tripod. Strap optional.
Be a Headcase: $19.99. Not all iPhone case beer openers are created equal. That's right, Be A Headcase isn't the only one. But it's supposedly the original and certainly the one with the most thought behind it. First, unlike the competition, it doesn't have any clunky moving parts. Second, as you can see in this video, when you purchase it you're also served the accompanying app. What could a beer opener app possibly do? Takes advantage of the iPhone's sensors to deliver a rich multimedia par-tay experience, that's what! Not only does it automatically count the number of beer and can tops you pop, it can display a chosen picture and play a chosen song/voice recording every time you do. It also uses GPS to track where in the world you're getting your drink on -- and will tweet/update your friends that you are. It's the ultimate in mixing low-brow with sophistication.