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I tried the Taylor Swift-inspired trend in iPhone cases and it wasn't as bad as I feared

A lifelong skeptic of phone cases, I decided to test a type of case that is, apparently, now a thing.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

A status symbol?

Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

I have certain beliefs that aren't susceptible to shaking.

Baseball is infinitely better than cricket, for example. And then there's the belief that nothing should adorn a French fry, other than salt and ketchup.

Another of these unshakeable beliefs is that phone cases have a fundamental paucity of pulchritude and are therefore not for me.

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Ever since (my) phones began, I've eschewed phone cases and pooh-poohed other people's phone case choices. My iPhone 12 has survived, with a few scars here and there, but it still retains its attractive, blue essence.

So I never thought anything would sway me until I saw this Wall Street Journal headline: "It's More Than a Phone Case. For Gen Z, It's a Status Symbol."

A phone case? How could this be? Naturally, I had to learn more.

Fashioning a Swift excuse

It had escaped my notice, but apparently, the phone case to be seen with must have right angles. Rounded corners are so out that they could be designer trucker hats.

The Journal recounted how celebrities such as Megan Thee Stallion were sporting right-angled cases. And then came the one person who often changes everything -- Taylor Swift. It took just one Swift TikTok video featuring some plastic 90-degree angles for the whole world to go 180 and order these things.

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One may, of course, theorize, as the Journal does. Is there something that makes the blockier shape better to clutch? Is it a harking back to the good old days when technology was bulkier and squarer -- the good old days before Apple came along with its appeal to, well, aesthetics and human feelings?

There is, indeed, a marketing trend currently referred to as "nowstalgia," the adaptation of old styles for today's world.

Naturally, this incited a painful dilemma. I live with the perennial instinct to be cooler than thou, but could I possibly extend that to one of my fundamental principles?

Oh, of course I could. But I just want to be clear that I did it for you.

And so it was that I snuck over to Amazon and ordered the, full product description here: LSL Compatible iPhone 12 Pro Case Square Light Green Soft TPU Bumper Anti-Drop Anti-Scratch Shock Absorption Protective Wireless Slim Cover Compatible with iPhone 12 Pro 6.1 Inch for Women Girls Men.

I was relieved, you see, that this case had so many features -- especially the shock absorption. I was also relieved that this particular squared-off case was appropriate for "Women Girls Men."

Embracing the experience

When it swiftly arrived, I set myself into a positive frame of mind. It helped that the case arrived in an aluminum pack declaring: "Fashion Case. Perfect Design."

But then came the moment when my blue iPhone 12 was to be encased in bright green for the very first time in its life -- and mine.

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I can't pretend that it was easy. But yes, it fit perfectly and I'll cheerily concede that it made my iPhone feel bigger and marginally less slippery.

This LSL case supports wireless charging and synchronizes perfectly with my iPhone's buttons. But what would people say when they saw me clutching it in public?

Would some knowing friend pithily remark that I'd gone over to the dark side? Would someone at a bar or a restaurant casually sidle over and wonder where I'd got such a lovely case, muse about the perfection of its angles and declare that I was even cooler than they thought?

I regret to say it took my wife three days to even notice.

"Oh, you've got a phone case," she finally said, with blistering enthusiasm.

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Yes, that was her complete observation. There was nothing about whether it was pretty and green, nothing about its angles and nothing even about Taylor Swift.

I was concerned, but not disheartened. Perhaps my wife found it too ordinary to comment on further. She prefers to wrap her Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in a case enjoying sparkles that float up, down and around. She enjoys its mesmeric quality.

For the next several days I took my angle-wrapped iPhone to stores, a bar and several restaurants. I tried it in several pairs of pants. I tried to be as naturally overt about its presence as I could.

Yet still no expressions of admiration, coolness or, in fact, anything.

Finally, a reaction

Until, that is, I played golf with my friend Pat. It did take a couple of holes, but when he saw me clutching my green becased phone he said, excitedly: "Oh, you got a new phone."

Finally, a reaction. Sadly, not quite the reaction I expected or hoped for, but still a reaction. When he saw that it was merely a case, he asked: "Why?"

I explained about fashion and TikTik and Taylor Swift. His response: "Oh, OK."

Ultimately, I concluded many things.

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One, I was actually heartened by the experience. If a phone case can truly represent fashion -- and perhaps mine didn't do it quite enough -- then we've made a little progress.  If cases can somehow encourage individuality -- and go beyond the garish examples one so often sees -- it's surely a good thing.

And if right angles can be the path to a more beautiful world, so be it, even if only for a short while.

I concede, too, that this case experience has altered my idea that only the insecure have them. The LDL did make my phone very slightly grippier and did give it a slightly different shape, though I'm not sure I wanted to embrace the extra bulkiness.

Finally, though, I'm not abandoning my nudist principles. I just can't. I want the feeling of metal, not plastic. I want style not, well, bright green plastic.

Then again, don't too many phones look the same these days? 

Perhaps, one day, I could find a case that would really change my mind.

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