Not long after the annual summer release of a new iPhone comes an inevitable parade of ways to personalize and protect your new gadget. Those options range from rubber cases that can be had for $19.99 at your local Best Buy to Louis Vuitton monogram sheaths that cost more than the phone itself (with a two-year contract, of course), and the prospect of choosing one can be quite the task indeed for style-conscious gadget-lovers.

Since it seems as though the iPhone 4 is making a case more of a necessity than ever, now is a good a time as any to talk about the odd submarket that has opened up for designer tech accessories. Would you spend a couple hundred bucks on a case for your phone, or are such things absolutely frivolous in your mind?

In many ways, the purchase of an iPhone or iPad is a style-conscious decision from the outset. Not only are Apple products notorious for excellent industrial design, but the company actively markets itself to people that value aesthetics in everyday life. It only makes sense that some of those people also enjoy significant expendable income, part of which they’re willing to expend in order to make their favorite gadget as pretty as can be.

Are you one of those people? Surprisingly, I’m not. I don’t have an iPhone (I have philosophical issues with AT&T), but my Blackberry is eternally covered by a boring black case, mostly because I’m convinced that I will one day drop it in a toilet (I worked at Best Buy for three years in college, it’s astonishingly common). If that happens, I don’t want to be out as much as a couple hundred bucks for a ruined case as well as a phone.

(From left: Nancy Gonzalez, $385 via Net-a-Porter; Fendi, $60 via Net-a-Porter; Rick Owens, $150 via Net-a-Porter.)

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Stacy

    I have had my iphone for over 2 years and I used just a basic silicone cover for it. Then my husband purchased the iphone 3gs at the beginning of this year and had to have the black otterbox (hard plastic case w/silicone cover on outside) and loved it so much that he gifted me with a pink one. It’s nice but is big & bulky and it takes away from the touch screen aspect of the gadget. Well, looking at the prices above, I would have “hinted” to (read – told) hubby that I wanted a designer case instead. The Fendi cover is just $10 more than what the otterbox cost. I wouldn’t pay more than that ($60) for a cover…I think???, maybe????, possibly????…I don’t know!

    Why would I be willing to spend $$$$ for an iphone case but not an ipad case? Strange.

  • Laura

    I bought a Juicy Couture case for the 3G iPhone and I love it. It’s not expensive at all and very stylish.

  • Jen

    I totally would pay big money for a nice case. I think of it as cost per use/public viewing. I arguably have my iphone out of my purse and in my hand more often than my wallet (unless, of course, there’s a huge sale going on that day ;)). I need it to look as nice as my handbag. That said, I would have a hard time shelling out more than $250 for the case unless it were covered in diamonds or could simultaneously make my morning coffee.

  • whit

    the rick owens one cracks me up

  • Zaneta

    I wouldn’t pay big money for a phone case. I think it’s an absolute waist. I would rather get a new phone. There are so many nice phone cases on the market for reasonable price.

  • haydee

    the iphone4 case that I got in Hong Kong works just fine. I got it for HK$38. Not bad. I won’t buy anything that will cost as much as the phone. Would rather get a bag for that amount of money :-)

  • ame

    I, too, refuse to ever patronize AT&T, and really wasn’t all that impressed with the iPhone regardless. But the most I have ever spent on any sort of phone case was $30 and that hurt me. I carry a Palm Pre, which I have covered in several ways. First, a PhantomSkinz thing on the front. Then a Seidio Hard Case, and then I carry it in a lovely BlytheKing houndstooth case with a pocket. Those three items cost well over $30 total but other than totally destroying the seidio case when I dropped it funny on concrete, they’ve held up to SERIOUS abuse.

  • I Tso

    I love it, I think it takes it away from the norm. I like unique and different, and that’s exactly what these phone cases represent. I love it..

  • Catt

    i dont think it is necessary at all. I purchased the iPhone pouch from LV 3 years ago. I only used it for 2 times then it sits beautifully in LV box in my closet. why? bcs I put it in the pouch in my purse, I couldnt hear it ringing at all. I really feel silly buying this case. So not necessary. Strongly not recommended!!

  • Nat

    Oh. My. God. what is this Fendi thing? For its a thing, and only a thing. It looks like some Falcon apparel.
    It’s not even tacky, cos tacky would be something!

  • Marie

    Like Amanda, I too eschew the iPhone and encase my Blackberry in a sturdy (if bulky) black Otterbox. I wouldn’t ever consider trading it in for a more stylish but flimsier case. My mobile is a utilitarian device that I use for business necessity (not for trying to appear self-important whilst waiting for a train). I simply don’t consider it a fashion accessory. Plus, it already coordinates with my black Epi bags quite nicely.

  • arlene

    I love my IPhone. Had it since 2007, have the new iphone 4 and have never had a problem with ATT or the phone. That said, I use a $30 dollar case , would never waste big money on the case, rather spend it on the bag it comes out of!

  • PhotoGirl

    If someone comes out with a nice case for the EVO 4G, I might be interested. For now, my $25 hard plastic case works just fine. An iPhone was never in the cards for me because I so thoroughly dislike ATT.


    So many cases to choose from most of them area good price to, if you were in the market for an expensive one then go for it , each to their own.

  • Michelle

    I had my iPhone for sometime now and loved it ever since. I had these bulky cases before and such inconvenience it gave me. The thought of protecting my phone is such a big deal but I don’t want to spend another $30 on cases and skins. Good thing I was able to find a shield from The price was worth it, it’s just $6.99 yet it gave me that scratch-free protection. I was hesitant at first but it’s just the same material they used with BG and Invisibleshield. So, if I am to save money and stick with durability, out with the bulky cases and the $30 skins that were shipped with fancy packages.

  • nini

    To each their own…I personally wouldn’t spend so much. (ipad)

  • Ellen

    The problem that I have with spending a lot on a phone case is that you can only use it for your specific phone usually. Once Apple comes out with a newer iphone, it won’t fit into the old case and it becomes useless. (ipad)

  • nini

    too much for me. (ipad)

  • Ladyash

    I usually don’t spent more than $25 on a case because phone technology keeps changing and cases are less versatile for all the different models. I would rather save the money and put it towards a purse that I will have much longer than the life of my phone