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

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108 Reactions to this post

"Do you protect your smartphone?"

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Jesus Salvador Delgado Martinez well i used to have the iphone 3gs well i sold it to my best friend i bought it when it first came out and i protected that iphone with screenprotectors... cases... outter box works... he thought i bought a new one and sold it to him lol
Crystal Swanson my old iPhone 3g - nothing but a screen protector. However, my androids I keep a zagg invisible shield AND a case...my 3g took quite a few sidewalk slides but i'd be surprised if my others stood up to that.
RockinRose Wolf Donnell Clarivue screen protector and Seidio cases
Gabriel Flores Hi! I dont know if i should get an Hp Veer or not. Would you consider it? Or is there a better phone? And how would you download music and apps onto it? Please answer. D:
John J Volk I always use a case that protects the phone even when it is in my pocket.
Alaa Haidar http://www.syriatelcompetition.com/viewPhoto.php?id=93cbca4b576acdd387f341f91e714da6
Alaa Haidar please vote for my Mobile on her
Jane Johns Samsung S 4G with gel case, screen protector and in a belt clip on case too sometimes
Sara George i protect mine with a case
Ross Walker Motorola photon in a otterbox defender case....best choice I ever made.
Christina Elena Amaya my blackberry bold 9930 and playbook have leather cases and screen protectors
Peter Koch Griffin Survivor
Mads G. Thomassen Both! Got a bookbook from twelve south :p
Nyle Ahmed Samsung focus looks better without case and screen protected got alot of scratches on it so I took off
Henning Betschka No, i Care ;-)
Jeremy Abad No. I get a new phone every year. Got my eye on that NEXUS PRIME.
Michael Mathis Both..... Outterbox makes great cases.
Frank Valle Screen protectors n body glove wit a kickstand
Asher Enciso Nothing. No insurance or case/screen protector
Darin Del Pizzo I roll naked!
Venancio Hernandez No, I like to show off my iPhone.
Charles D. Comier Otterboxed!
Mandy Graham Otter Box
George Isenhart I finally got one after a year, My Epic 4G cost me $250 a year ago but I sure couldn't replace that inexpensively.
Nuwan Pradeep I had a case, but now i have removed it. Only screen protector.
Tammy Ray HTC Inspire - I have a 1 yr old... I use both a case and screen protector
Jim Mccoy Give me hellz give me a yeah
Evan Pilkington Zagg FTW. Full body for my Thunderbolt just came in today :)
Curtis Owens I have always used screens even back when i had a PDA. its better to protect your investment than to have to have it repaired. But soon that might not be needed if the displays use Organic Light emitting diodes, they can use flexible plastics so there is no glass to break.
Stephen Wong Screen protector (zagg) and case (ringke)
Andréa Henry I love my Otter box!!!
Marie Koehler Chico Ballistic HC rockin my Evo 4G
Wilma Jeanne Brickner-Sanchez Just a case, I have the tmobile g2x and it is said to have gorilla glass, but it does have small scratches
Adrian Salazar Yep have a cover on my sensation and insurance in case that it still manages to get damage
Sylbert Joseph Screen protector, and a holster.
Tim Coll I have tried to use cases on my EVO 4G but I just can't stand them
LeeLee Moné A case& screen protector is much needed for my phones.
Broderick Whitten I also use ballistic cases
Chris Ransom Otter box FTW
Broderick Whitten Yes Otterbox is my brand
Jonathan Morley I like the screen protectors I found on ebay from a store called Protectors Gone Wild, they're inexpensive but work great. I also use a Seidio Convert Case which allows for up to 3 layers of protection and also includes a belt holster.
Agim Alion Evo 3D here, I keep it naked, but Ive gone to sprint an just asked for a back cover before.
Brian Fruge I phone 4 s otter box
Ben Damus Used to be just invisibleshield, now a ballistic case! HTC Evo 4G
Thomas Boehnlein Screen protector, case and insurance. $1500 worth of broken/lost phones between 7 people in one year.
Omar Torres Zagg invisishield
Yasan Sui In-case for now...
Braylon Johnson I dropped my iPhone a lot. Yet it didn't break until I put a case on it. #strange
Chris J none. nexus S doesnt need one
Shawn Meadows On my EVO 3D I use a otterbox defender/ commuter, just waiting for the ballistic HC to come out!!!!!!!!
Max Stephenson I have an otter and almost never have it on :)
Jim Hollingsworth My HD2 has Gorilla Glass, so no need for a screen protector. I do store it a slip case when not in use.
Boris Crosby Otterbox RULES! I have bought them for all my smart phones and the work great.
Ben Krupke I have an Inspire 4g ($600) phone..heck yea Otter box and invisibleSHIELD, you wouldn't play a football game without jock strap,, got to protect the goods
Tim Nix I have both, I use the zagg invisishield and I have a xtreme Mac battery case for my iPhone
Cassandra Fraser Of course screen protector and silicone skin for now. Wanting something stronger than silicone.
Randy Mullis Black otter box commuter on my new 16 white 4s
Derek Lombardi I use the factory neoprene case that came with my Nexus One.. since Jan 7 2010 not a scratch on it
Bill Ciocco Otterbox for MyTouch 4G
Josh Avondoglio Hell yes! Screen protector AND case!
Ethan Young InspireTech.. I HATE otterbox.
Alcide Robidoux Don't really need a case when you have a plastic shelled phone with gorilla glass for the touchscreen...
Davis Hanna i use a bumper or a candyshell
Mark Fisher Jr. I dont have either one.
Alexandro Lai WTF. i just took off my case few days ago! and yst i broke it bloody crack on the screen! My advice always use a case!
Sean Reece I use case and screen protector just started had an android for 2 yrs never chipped screen never cracked even.when dropped face down on the concrete if it was iphone it would bust easier
Ricardo Perez Otterbox ROCKS!!!!
Kristian Dominguez Both... take care of my shit alot!
Sean Reece Just got one the other day
Callum Lefler screen protector
Mark Gonzales I use both a screen protector and a case (Otterbox) for the best protection.
Jordan Crawford Otterbox babyyy
Adrian Jordan I dislike covers on my iPhone 4, they make it look fat.
Teron Facey @ Jeremiah check out Fommy.com I bought a lot stuff from them.
Lee Grip Gresham Both...I got kids
Teron Facey I have a casemate tough case. Majority of all case companies tailor to iPhones
Ryno Bones My phone is completely unprotected in my pocket with change and often keys. I'm happy with my provider, so if my phone gets screwed up, I really don't mind renewing my contract. Been using AT&T Wireless for 12 years now.
Michael Alvarado Castellano I use both best way to go always in my book
Elias Smith screen protector and case
Paulette Garcia Nope I drop mine less then 24 hr
David DiPilla I have a hard case for my droid 2 its shiny blue its nice but I rather have no case cases make the phone thicker I aslo have screen protector on it its pretty good not like others screens are the first to get messed up
Derrico Brown I used to always have a full body screen protector, but hated the orange peel effect and rubbery feel they had. Now it's only cases. They only come off when I'm changing batteries. I can only see 3 dot sized scratches on my EVO3D and never had a screen cover (had it since launch)
Nicholas Saulino My Droid Bionic remains nude.
Ryan DeClue Full body Zagg Shield, wrapped in an otterbox defender :-)
Miles Lark Otterbox
Tim Fuhrmann Currently no screen protector, but normally yes to both. When I get my 9810 its getting a zag shield screen protector and an otterbox hard case.
Andrew Sowards Ghost armor and outter box defender on my 3D
Nick Huculak Need a case for the belt clip. Haven't used a screen protector since gorilla glass
Johnny Ezell Jr. Case, but no screen protector for my Droid 3...Gorilla glass!
Joseph Crossman I protect my Verizon Wireless Samsung Droid Charge 4g LTE phone with both! Phantom Skinz with black carbon fiber on the back and clear screen on the front and then it is placed in a combo holster case. Kinda hard to damage it still looks brand new after several months! For those of you who don't like screen protectors, I would check out Phantom Skinz. It is super thin and self healing just to name of few of it's benefits! And no, I do not work for them... I am just very impressed with their product!
Dillion Meise I got a hard case for mine, my micro sd isnt hot-swappable. so the other day i needed my card...... my phone was filthy under the case........ no more case lol
Brandon Johnson The one phone I actually used my case with, wound up breaking in ways I didn't even know were possible, that phone was an Lg Chocolate by the way so you can guess how many times it was replaced.
Marko Teullet No screen protector n still looks brand new
Kirk Shannon Popcase only. Hate the way screen protector's mess with display, esp with my Infuse super amoled plus. And... I take care of my shit!
Jason Winchester I have a Seido case for my Droid and it rocks.
Kyle Ring Otterbox!
Sue Riot Otterbox case for my Blackberry. :) does a great job

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