Shattered: Why you should always use a case on your iPhone

I decided to carry my white iPhone 4 without a case for a week and this is what happened.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

As many of you know I tend to keep my gadgets in cases almost exclusively, especially my iPhone 4. While it's a sin to cover up Apple's beautifully-designed hardware, I fall squarely in the better-to-protect-it camp.

My iPhone is a tool more than a showpiece, and a very important tool at that. It's an integral part of how I communicate and acts as my primary computer more than 50 percent of the time. Plus I'm rough on my gadgets and known to fumble them on occasion.

For some unknown reason, I decided to carry my white iPhone without a case for the past week. I guess that I just wanted to try using it "commando" to see if it was worth the risk. While it's definitely smaller, sleeker and emminently more pocketable, I had two close calls almost immediately after removing the case.

Luckily my iPhone survived two drops without damage. Once onto the tile floor in my kitchen, the other onto on concrete sidewalk. The third time wasn't a charm:

I was getting out of my car and fumbled the transition from hands to pocket and my iPhone fell onto an asphalt parking lot. The back glass shattered. I'm pretty much convinced that the back glass would have shattered more if it weren't for the iWrap skin on the back, but who knows. Woe is me.

iFixIt's Kyle Wiens told me that it only takes about two minutes to replace the rear glass on an iPhone 4, but it wasn't much of a consolation and I haven't taken the time to swap it back with the original black glass. In fact, now that most of the initial pain has subsided, the shattered glass actually looks kind of cool as a battle scar. At least it wasn't the front glass.

Gun shy after the incident I swore that I'd never bring my iPhone outdoors without a case. I opted for a case that offers more protection that Apple's ridiculously overpriced bumpers, the Reflex Series by Otterbox ($45).

The Reflex Series isn't as bulky or heavy as some of Otterbox's other cases but offers a high level of protection. It's built of a combination of hard plastic and a softer, rubber-like material that allows it to move and flex on impact. Kind of like the "crumple zones" that protect the cockpit into most modern cars. This thing is solid and looks like it would withstand a pretty good drop. But I'm not going to test it out, not until the next time I get out of my car, that is...

Do you use an iPhone 4 sans case? Every dropped it? I'd love to hear your story in the TalkBack.

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