Cellphone Cases: Style Over Function

The other day I searched a simple question on Google: “What are the benefits of cellphone cases?” I just wanted to see what would come up. The website Answer’s Billy Martin said: “The cell phone case protects your phone from being scratched and damaged. I recommend getting one only if you tend to have slippery fingers,” (Answer’s, 2014, p.1) It seems that this answer is missing a key feature that many people look for in a cellphone case… They want a case that is esthetically pleasing or that represents something specific for them. People want cases that will fulfill some visual need that they have.

For example, my friend Nicole Jarzabek did not buy her case for the sole purpose of protecting her phone. She wanted a case that had her favorite color, purple. “I get picky with prints. I like simplicity. I looked for a case that was purple because that’s my favorite color,” said Nicole when I asked her about her case. When I asked her why it mattered what the phone looked like she replied “I care because it represents who I am,” (Jarzabek, 2014).

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.53.35 PM
Pictured is Nicole holding her phone with its case.

“When I had the iPhone 4S, I was so picky when it came to cases. All the really protective ones looked ugly, but when it came to less protective hard-shell cases, I had a hard time. It was difficult deciding between the two, because the hard-shell cases were pretty and the protective ones were just bulky and plain. Also, when it came to prints, it was tough because the way a company defines ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ is either extremely girly or extremely masculine. Like the prints, if you go to an Apple store you’ll look at the selection for cases for girls it will be pink, polka dot stripes, Kate Spade, little clutch purses to put your phone in, and for guys it was just like wood panel or black or simple colors. I didn’t like that. It took me forever to find a case that defined me” (Jarzabek, 2014).

I hope that those marketing these products see how important it is to some people to pick out that perfect case… That case that will accurately reflect who they are, that will show other people a little peek into who they are as a person. Some people, like Nicole, spend a great deal of thought, emotion, and time meticulously searching for that right case. Even if you see Nicole’s case and only see a simple purple case, Nicole specifically picked that case out to represent herself. She, like so many of us, care about what our phone cases look like.

There are so many cases to choose from. Which one will you choose or have you chosen?


Jarzabek, N. (2014, September 10). [Personal interview by the author].

Martin, B. (n.d.). What are the benefits of cell phone cases? Retrieved September 16, 2014, fromAnswers website: http://www.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_benefits_of_cell_phone_cases

Otterbox VS Lifeproof: A Comparison. (2013, August 15). Retrieved from R-Tools Technology website:http://otterbox-vs-lifeproof.reviews.r-tt.com

12 thoughts on “Cellphone Cases: Style Over Function

  1. Cellphones have become a part of our identity these days. It’s always sitting on the table next to us, in our hand or in our ear. It makes sense that we want to “dress it up” to fit our identity. Definitely interesting to think about a cellphone representing us as a person.


    • I thought so too. I remember when my dad got me a black Otterbox that was really good with protection, but I still didn’t like it at all because of the color. I ended up exchanging it for a different color.


  2. I agree that cellphone cases are a way to express ourselves. Especially because the majority of our fellow classmates have the same white iPhone. I know that I even made a friend because of my case. It was a symbol associated with the band Arctic Monkeys, and a coworker and I bonded over our love of the band. So I’d say they are great representations of the person we are.


  3. I really like Bill Martin’s comment. Essentially, a cell phone case is meant to protect your phone. Eliminate you dropping it, or buy a case in reaction. Whether it “expresses you” or not, it does fulfill a need.

    One thing that I think never gets mentioned is the fact that cases make increasingly large phones and devices larger. With phablets, new large iphones, and phones growing in size, soon cases might have to come with a DIY kit for making pockets bigger as well.


    • That is totally true. People used to tell me how big they thought my phone was but now there are bigger phones with even bigger cases… my once big phone and case is now just average. Some people even have those cases with big things ion them like Mickey Mouse ears or something like that.


  4. I really enjoyed reading this, and as an iPhone user who has recently been dealing with a severely damaged screen I have felt a shift in my own need vs want for cases. Functionality and how much a case will protect my phone is much more important to me now than it ever was. I used to love having cute, stylish cases but at the end of the day if they don’t do the job then it is not worth it.


    • Thank you, glad you liked it. I used to have a really cute phone car as well. I also felt obligated to use it because my brother got it for me for Christmas. I drop my phone a lot and the top screen started to pop off in the corner. I freaked out and started looking for a stronger cover, choosing function over style. I was lucky and found a phone cover that I loved both in style and function. It’s not the most exciting case, but I really like it and it protects my phone.


  5. I do believe that phone cases do represent who we are but for me, I personally value function over beauty. Do I want a cute case sure, but do I want to pay to have my screen replaced every time I drop it, hell no. So I go for protective cases in a cute color sure its not perfect but it gets the job done and after having my case for over a year I still have a scratch free screen. Maybe my case really does say something about me after all that I would rather have no scratches than a polka dot case.


    • I totally understand. Personally, I am also more likely to search really hard for the case I like out of the protective ones. For example the case I have now. I am just fortunate that I really like it. Appearance is important to me though so I wouldn’t pick one that I truly didn’t like (like I discussed int he blog), but I also want my phone protected because of the money, pics, etc that I could lose if I damaged it.


  6. I completely agree that cell phone cases define our personality in a sense. My cell phone case is a rare commodity in my opinion, and it defines me pretty accurately. Functionality-wise, It is made of a slightly thick layer of silicon rubber, which absorbs shock very well without being too bulky. Equally important, my case is made to give my phone the appearance of a classic Gameboy. Although I am by no means a gamer in today’s definition of the word, I love old-fashioned video games. This simple case has started plenty of conversations over the years, and has prevented many screen cracks. These two factors, in my opinion, do make a great cell phone case.

    Good topic. This belongs on BuzzFeed, with other topics we never think about.


    • Thank you! I am really glad you enjoyed the topic. Your case sounds awesome. Based on what you have said that you like, it seems to be the perfect case for you. The ability that you had to find a case that falls so well in both the function category and style category, is something that I wish more people had (including myself). If there were more stylish AND protective cases to choose from, I, and I am sure many people, would be very appreciative and would probably take advantage of that.


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