Do you protect your smartphone in a case or with screen protectors?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: October 14, 2011

Over the years, smartphones have grown substantially in terms of capability, size and function. They've undergone several changes in design and materials. And with the inclusion of large, glass displays, they have ultimately become quite a bit more fragile, too. One slip of the hand, a missed pocket or a slight fumble could leave your phone looking a lot like the one pictured above (poor Greg). If you're lucky, your phone will at least still be working when all is said and done – just watch out for those shards of glass you're sliding your finger over.

The obvious way around being stuck with a busted phone is by purchasing some sort of protection plan through your wireless provider (or through the manufacturer, in the case of an iPhone). These plans are fairly inexpensive, in comparison to replacing a phone at full retail, that is. Although you may never use it, it at least offers peace of mind if you were to drop and damage your phone.

Simply having mobile insurance doesn't always keep you out of trouble, though. Sometimes a plan will only allow for a certain amount of claims in a two-year period. Or maybe the deductible is simply too much to afford between pay checks. Often, people are less worried about dropping and breaking their phone than keeping it in pristine condition to maintain resale value. Whatever the case, insurance is not always foolproof.

One alternative is to carry your phone in a protective case. Using a multitude of hard plastics and rubber padding, cases absorb the blunt of the impact in the event you drop your phone. Some case manufacturers offer different levels of protection, like OtterBox with the Impact, Commuter, Reflex and Defender series. Cases also prevent your phone from getting too scratched from normal wear and tear. (I tend to toss my phones more nonchalantly the longer I have them.)

Dropping your phone and busting the display, however, isn't the only way to damage it. Carelessly tossing a phone in your pocket with keys, change and knives (yes, I carry a knife) can scratch it more than you would believe. This is where screen protectors or even full body wraps like ZAGG Invisible Shields come into play. Nothing gets under my skin like a hairline scratch on the display.

I switch phones a lot, and I'm also an accessory junkie. So it can get to be a bit expensive at times. Regardless, I love looking for new cases, but I hate using them. I love the feeling of added protection and knowing I won't have to worry about scratches if I use them, but I prefer to feel and hold the phone as it was intended. A lot of work goes into the design of a phone – especially to get it so thin. Popping a thick, chunky case on a phone completely defeats that purpose. So it's a love/hate thing for me. I usually go through month-long spurts where I won't use my phone without a case, which gets a bit risky with something like the iPhone. I eventually cave and slip it back into its protective case.

Screen protectors? I don't use them. I can't use them. You know those really humid days where you step outside and feel like you rubbed Elmer's Glue on your neck instead of sunscreen (there were a lot of these in NC this summer)? It's days like those that you step outside, try to unlock your phone and it feels like your thumb is made of rubber. Screen protectors, unless you get one with a matte finish, only make matters worse. On the rare occasion I do use a screen protector of any kind, it's always an Invisible Shield.

Personally, I don't deal with insurance either. I switch phones too often for it to really be worth the monthly charge for me and I always have a backup phone or two, just in case.

I'm interested in how you guys and gals do it. Do you carry your phone in a case? If so, what phone and case? Do you use a screen protector or have insurance, too?

Image via @Grg