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Cell Phones & Mobile

Best iPhone Case

For most iPhone owners, a case isn't just an accessory — it's a must-have item. For all the time and effort Apple puts into the design and engineering of its phones, the fact is that real life, with all of its scrapes, bumps, and accidents, is enough to turn a once-pristine iPhone into a dented, gouged, and scarred piece of technology very quickly. It may continue to function, but additional protection is something most owners equate with peace of mind. iPhone cases come in a variety of styles, from multiple layers of security that isolate the phone from the outside world to thin shells that provides only minor protection. Others not only provide a shell against the environment, but address the Achilles' heel of all modern electronics - battery life.

Belkin Easefit Sport iPhone Armband

Active iPhone users who use their devices on the go have more concerns than the casual user. Wearing an armband for extended periods of time means the case has to be comfortable, even under the hot sun and while your body is pouring out sweat. And while you can't carry much when you're working out, you might need to carry a key for home or a locker key. Belkin's Easefit Sport iPhone Armband is a followup to its popular Sport Armband Plus. The material for its adjustable armband breathes, which remains comfortable even when you're perspiring. A pocket also allows the storage of a key during your gym time. Most importantly, the Easefit Sport can fit the popular iPhone 4 and 4S in addition to the new iPhone 5 (which are difficult to find).

Marware SportShell Convertible Arm Band for iPhone

Although the Marware SportShell Convertible Armband for the iPhone doesn’t have a front cover, this versatile armband is great for people on the go. With a snug fit, the adjustable neoprene arm band can fit any bicep securely without the threat of tearing at the seams. Encased with rubber, the sport shell where your iPhone rests within not only hugs the device into place but also protects the finish from scratches. The shell is connected to the arm band via a durable clip that can also be used to clip your iPhone to your belt or utilized as a stand for viewing videos. Despite being open in the front, the clip is designed to keep the iPhone far enough from your skin to protect the device from perspiration.

Wireless Xcessories LifeProof iPhone Armband / Swimband

Lifeproof's iPhone Armband/Swimband integrates its rugged iPhone 4S case with a thick adjustable nylon armband for use while running or lifting weights. The armband also incorporates silicon dots to hold it in place during activity and is perforated to allow it to breathe and for comfort, even while perspiring. With the incorporation of Lifeproof's case — which protects against drops, dust and is water-resistant — the armband can also be used for extreme sports such as surfing, dirt biking and other activities outside of a gym. On the downside, the Lifeproof iPhone Armband/Swimband is designed for the iPhone 4S and there's no word as to if or when the newer, iPhone 5 will receive the same protection from the company.

iLuv iCC212 Armband Case w/ Glow-in-the-Dark Frame

The iLuv iCC212 Armband Case with Glow-in-the-dark frame is as secure as it is sleek and stylish. Fully covered from front to back, the iLuv iCC212 case will protect your iPhone from any angle from sweat, while allowing you full use of the touch screen; the clear cover does not deny your finger any freedom of touch. For people who find time to run day or night, the glow-in-the-dark iLuv iCC212 will provide a visible sign to alert any drivers coming your way.

iPhone 5 Shocksock Reflective Sports Armband

Though accessories for Apple's new iPhone 5 are quickly finding their way to store shelves, athletic enthusiasts have found a lack of armbands designed for the phone. So while that 4.87-inch screen might make you happy for its extra real estate, the reality of the situation is that your old cases for the iPhone 4 and 4S won't fit. The Shocksock Reflective Sports Armband is one of the few sports accessories designed to accommodate the extra size of the iPhone 5. It's machine washable and can be adjusted to fit. It also comes in an assortment of colors, including black, red, hot pink and camouflage.

OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 5

If you're expecting to take your iPhone 5 into extreme conditions, whether it's sports, environments, or that your lifestyle in general is an energy drink ad, the Otterbox Defender sets the standard for mobile device protection. The Otterbox Defender provides three layers of protection, in addition to screen protection. It also provides plugs for the various ports and orifices of the iPhone. It's not waterproof, but it does protect against drops, dust, and scratches. It's the ideal case for those who have a problem dropping their iPhones. It also comes with a holster, adding to its utility.

Mophie Juice Pack: Helium iPhone 5 Case

Mophie is known for their cases that double as batteries. However, despite the iPhone 5 being on the market for several months, the company has not released an integrated battery/case solution — until now. The Mophie Juice Pack Helium provides an additional 1,500 mAh battery for the iPhone 5, which provides 80 percent more battery power to the phone. The case is also thinner than Mophie's previous cases, matching form and function much like the iPhone 5 itself. Like Mophie's other Juice Packs, the Helium is enabled with a flip of a switch that begins recharging the phone's battery.

OtterBox Commuter Series Hybrid Case

Though not as robust as the Defender series, the OtterBox Defender offers two layers of protection with a polycarbonate outer shell and a silicone inner layer, in addition to a screen protector. However, it adds little bulk to the iPhone 5 while weighing in at 4 ounces. It offers protection against drops, dust, and scratches. The Commuter also allows easy access to all of the iPhone 5's buttons, ports, and camera, in addition to a cutout for the Apple logo. However, like most other cases, expect some problems when using some third party accessories when your iPhone 5 is sheathed in its protective cocoon.

Speck Products PixelSkin Rubberized Case for iPhone 5

Made entirely out of silicone, the Speck PixelSkin is notable for providing "grippy" texture and material. For those who find the iPhone 5's body (and other cases) to be too slippery, the Speck PixelSkin case is easy to hold on to. The case is form-fitting, and the iPhone 5's home, lock, and volume buttons are under the case. It provides protection against shock and drops, though not as much as the more robust multi-layer solutions of other manufacturers. However, it is an excellent choice for those who need a case for their iPhone 5.

Twelve South BookBook for iPhone 5

While other cases are virtually bulletproof vests for your phone, Twelve South's BookBook Case makes the phone more functional while wrapping it in a layer of leather. Designed to look like a small book (hence the name of the case), the BookBook allows easy access to the iPhone 5's buttons and screen once it's "opened". It also provides a cutout for the iPhone's camera. The real draw of this case, however, are the card cutouts on the side that make it an elegant iPhone case/wallet solution for those who want to cut down on what's in their pockets.

Mophie Juice Pack Pro

It used to be that if you wanted a case with extended battery life and ruggedized protection, you were out of luck. The two were separate cases, and, never the twain shall meet - until now. Mophie, known mostly for their extended battery pack cases, designed their latest high capacity battery in a shell that also carries Department of Defense environmental certifications. The case features multiple layers of protection and seals the iPhone's ports against water (though it's not waterproof), sand, dust, shock, and vibration. The battery is rated at 2,500 mAh, which provides 150 percent more power than a stock iPhone 4 or 4S. However, if you're looking for something svelte, this case is not for you. It adds at least another pound to the phone in addition to bulk. However, if you're on the go to areas that may not be the most friendly to iPhones for extended periods of time, the Juice Pack Pro should be considered.

Otterbox Defender Series Hybrid Case & Holster for iPhone 4 & 4S

If you have a serious case of the butterfingers or are engaged in a high risk career like Alaskan crab fisherman or Navy SEAL, you should first ask yourself if you really need that iPhone. But if you must, the Otterbox Defender Series should be at the top of your list for surviving your fumbles/the harsh Alaskan winter/firefights with the Taliban, and combinations thereof. The Otterbox Defender provides three layers of protection: a high-impact polycarbonate shell, durable silicone, and a built-in screen protector. Ports, plugs, and buttons are sealed by the silicone layer of the case. The polycarbonate shell doubles as a belt holster and can be converted into a kickstand for viewing videos. While it's not waterproof, the Otterbox Defender may be one of the toughest cases available.

Mophie Juice Pack Air

The two biggest complaints about Apple's gift to communication and mobile Internet browsing is that there never seems to be enough battery life, and it's all too easy to break. Mophie addresses both problems in one elegant package with the Juice Pack Air. The case/battery adds up to six hours of talk time or web browsing and up to 270 hours of standby time. It also keeps the phone powered for up to nine hours of video and 36 hours of audio. Its hard shell protects the back and sides of the iPhone, though there's no protection for the screen. Heavier users may want to also look at Mophie's Juice Pack Plus, which offers the same protection with more battery power, albeit in a thicker package.

Twelve South BookBook for iPhone 4/4S

Looking like a well-worn book, Twelve South's BookBook Case for iPhone 4S takes a cue from their cases for iPads and scales it down to the size of an iPhone. Most people will assume you've taken out a small Moleskin notebook or a small antique tome; the case not only houses the iPhone, but it also stores ID and credit cards. It adds an additional level of functionality, though having to open the "book" to answer calls may be awkward to some. However, if you're looking for an elegant case that's sure to start conversations, add the BookBook case to your shortlist.

Gelaskins

Choosing a case is entirely a matter of individual taste. The problem is, though, that for the most part cases are generally alike. Gelaskins brings a wide range of licensed designs, such as anime artist Yoshitaka Amano ("Vampire Hunter D"), Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman and cartoon creator Frank Miller ("Sin City", "300") to name a few. The artwork comes on adhesive sheets that attach to the front and back of the iPhone, but not the screen, protecting the device against scratches and scrapes. Unlike other films, air channels in the skin make it easy to remove air bubbles. The films are easy to remove. For those who need complete protection for the front of their phones, Gelaskins sells an optional screen protector. (Conventional hard cases are also available, though with less selection in art and artists.)

Wayne Akiyama
I'm a technology enthusiast and all-around gadget freak. I've paid particular attention to the explosion of mobile technology. My interest is in smartphones and feature phones as well as wired and handsfree accessories.
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