Remember When Smartphone Protectors Weren’t A Cottage Industry?

A few weeks ago I did my patriotic duty and upgraded to an iPhone 5. At a third of an inch shorter and nearly one ounce heavier, my iPhone 4 was like something out of the Middle Ages.

“Do you want to get an iPhone protector, sir?” the salesperson asked me as our dealings were drawing to a close and our teams of lawyers were shaking hands. He waved his hand over a display.

“These go for $38 apiece, but if you buy one now as part of your upgrade, I can probably give one to you for, oh…” he scratched his chin “…how does $30 sound?”

I looked over the display. “Do you have any in blue?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “Just black, pink, and leopard.”

“I was really hoping to get something in blue.”

“You should stop hoping.”

“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass,” I said, and started to sign the reams of paperwork that go with the upgrade.

“Sir, are you really going to leave the store unprotected?” the salesperson asked. “It’s dangerous out there. If something happened to your new phone…” He didn’t have to finish the sentence, but looked down at the ground and faintly shook his head from side to side, pondering the consequences.

I went with the leopard case. It was sleek and thin and was particularly effective against Vervet monkeys. The peace of mind was invaluable…until I saw the protector my sister-in-law had obtained for her iPhone 5. Hers had been custom-made by a company called OtterBox. The protector had three main components to it: an inner shield, a clear covering for the glass face, and a hard plastic outer shell that could withstand being dropped or burned at the stake for heresy.

I have never dropped or scratched a cell phone but the very sight of the OtterBox got me thinking. What if I did drop my iPhone? What if I threw it? Sartre says that we are condemned to be free. With the terrifying freedom to throw my iPhone, how could I go another moment without an OtterBox? I stayed home for a few days with a “family emergency” and safeguarded my iPhone with the cheap protector until the custom-made OtterBox arrived—blue—delivered by an otter that balanced a ball on its nose while I signed the receipt.

As I clicked the hard outer shell closed I felt my worries lift like a morning mist. At last I could safely take my iPhone out into the world, and to celebrate I let my iPhone sit on the edge of a table for half an hour.

That night I had a terrible dream. It was still the Cold War, and the Soviet Union had discovered my iPhone 5 to be part of a secret operation to take photographs of nuclear warheads and put them on Instagram. I watched helpless as my iPhone was crushed under the treads of a Red Army tank. Even the OtterBox could not stop the guts of my iPhone from running blue through the streets of Leningrad. I awoke in a sweat and, after wiping my hand to prevent smudging, held my iPhone close. When would we feel safe?

I located a man in my town who had designed the craft that the space program sent to Mars. He told me all about it while I stood in his trailer. With a home equity loan I commissioned him to build me an iPhone protector that could enter the Earth’s atmosphere at 33,000 miles per hour, slam into the ground somewhere in Russia, and still give me push notifications on Manti Te’o’s draft status. He found an old tank on Craig’s List, cut holes for the headphones and power cord, and painted it blue.

It is a little strange driving around the neighborhood in my blue iPhone protector tank. The kids point and stare and street parking is next to impossible. But at night I sleep the sleep of the innocent knowing that nothing can damage my iPhone 5. I do not care that I cannot touch the screen to make a call. I never got good reception anyway.



Filed under Technology

19 responses to “Remember When Smartphone Protectors Weren’t A Cottage Industry?

  1. Love this Mark! It’s good to see a post from you again. 🙂

  2. I, too have noticed your absence. It was all very unpleasant. Thank you for another great poke at the ridiculous lengths we are going to with our various tech gadgets. Love the line, “At a third of an inch shorter and nearly one ounce heavier, my iPhone 4 was like something out of the Middle Ages.” 🙂 Thank you!!

  3. Pingback: Friday Pick 40 | talktodiana

  4. It would seem that Diana likes her funny bones to be tickled..entertaining story..

    I understand the feeling a bit..I can look out over a height and feel nothing, but if my daughter is too close or I hold my phone over the edge….he he

  5. Remember when the actual phone casings were removable and you could get customised casings in any colour or pattern. Or you could get hand painted ones, bit like the helmets of ice hockey goalies. Now if you don’t want to have a pink, white or black phone your in serious trouble.

    • I’m told there are a lot of options online, but the difficulty with that is you need to wait for the delivery with your phone unprotected. Unless you knew ahead of time the exact day you were going to get your phone, and you could arrange for the custom-made protector from the online vendor meet you at the phone store. I’m sure that happens all the time.

  6. Diana sent me – glad she did!

  7. Hahah!! Man, I still have the 3GS… =]

    • Wasn’t that the name of one of those “serious” comic strips? Oh wait, that was Apartment 3G. It should have been Apartment 3GS. Long-time roommates come to blows over who gets to use the family plan phone upgrade.

      • Hahahaha hey, when you have a family plan you still have individual upgrades so – *sticks out tongue*. I just decided that my phone is still working, therefore I don’t NEED to spend money on getting a new one. =]

  8. Thanks to our mutual friend, Diana….I am here today to enjoy your post. I read it just after a visit to the phone store… extra understanding and giggle from me today! 😉 paula

  9. OnEveryStreet

    Hahahahaha! You totally killed me! 😀 Love the line “…and to celebrate I let my iPhone sit on the edge of a table for half an hour.” Awesome! Thank you! 😀

  10. Hi Mark. I am yet another voyeur courtesy of Diana! One question … why is it called an otter box?

    • That’s a good question, Ian. The company gives an answer on its “Our Story” link on its website at otterbox(dot)com. “Similar to an otter’s fur, our original line of cases is waterproof. So to incorporate that element with the fun and playful disposition of the animal our founder and his wife came up with the name OtterBox while brainstorming company names during a drive to Denver, Colo. Like the animal that is our namesake, we’re a fun, creative bunch that likes to work hard and play hard too.”

      Come to think of it, Ian, we’re kind of like that here. I should have called the site SchlabaBox – a fun, creative bunch that like to work hard and then go swimming on our backs in the Rocky Mountains.

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