Hands-on Review: Life in Plastiq iPhone Cases

by Andy on July 4, 2012

life in plastiq iphone case review

Time for something a little bit different from the usual cotton-based items that we see on HYA, iPhone cases. You may be cocking an eyebrow and wondering if I chose to take this review just because I wanted a new case for my beloved iPhone, but there’s actually a lot more crossover here than you would think. Much like t-shirts, a few companies dominate the iPhone case marketplace, and many of those cases tend to be utilitarian and not particularly inspiring when it comes to design, which is why it’s good that there are people out there like Life in Plastiq who are making really interesting cases with attractive and arty designs on them. And yeah, I thought it would be cool to have something to jazz up my phone!

Life in Plastiq are hunting out designers that they like (often designers from the t-shirt world, they have a couple of Threadless alumni in their catalogue), but they do also operate a design competition to find new talent and designs to go on their cases. Winning designers are paid $200 upfront and then 15% off sales up to a cap of $1,500. With the success of design competitions in the clothing world it’s hardly surprising that someone has seen a gap in the market with a design contest for iPhone cases since they are perfectly sized for artwork and as something that people carry around with them just about 24/7 they are something that people want to customise to express themselves.

The cases themselves add little bulk to the phone, made of a hard plastic that I think it would take a decent amount of effort to break when off your phone (I did bend one with my hands but it just felt wrong to try and break it, and it did spring right back into shape), if it’s on your phone I don’t see any way in which it could break. Fitment is nice and tight, there’s no small gaps at any point around the edges, which means it does a good job of not letting dust in, after a couple of weeks in my pocket when I switched from one case to the other there wasn’t much dust back there, much less than with my Griffin case. The dock connector isn’t obstructed, and nor is the headphone jack in the top, which is a problem I had with the case for the GoPano, which was a bit annoying that every time I wanted to use my headphones (and the only time I do that is the gym or in my car, and the gym is a fairly high risk area for phone droppage), so it’s good that this case doesn’t require removal for any normal usage of the phone.

If you want something that will make for a shockproof you have to go up to a much larger case but that is of course going to be something to consider with any case of this style which doesn’t add too much to the form factor of the phone. Personally, I feel that it provides enough protection, I’m a bit clumsy and have dropped it on the wooden floor in my house a couple of times and whilst my heart was in my mouth there was not visible damage to the phone and it’s still working fine, which is all you can hope for from a case as far as I can tell. With the cases being high gloss they can get small scratches on them. After a couple of weeks with mine in my pocket (the same pocket as my keys) it has developed some small scratches. You have to look for them, and they aren’t deep at all, but it’s worth mentioning that over time that they could become noticeable on the sparser designs, the patterned designs will show up any scratches much less. This isn’t an issue that’s specific to LiP cases, very few cases are scratch resistant, and of course the case is there so that it gets scratched and not your expensive iPhone.

The designs are completely subjective, different strokes for different folks and all that, but I think that if you’re the kind of person to visit and read Hide Your Arms then you would find something to like amongst the designs which are available at the moment. Hopefully that speaks a lot of the quality of artists they’ve been attracting in these early days and is something that they can maintain as the move along.

Price wise you are looking at $19 for a case, and that includes free worldwide shipping, which I think is about right considering that with every sale there is money going to the artist, and I do like that connection that when you buy something you support an independent artist even though you’re buying from a larger company (not that Life in Plastiq are huge, but you know what I mean). However, at the moment they’re actually running a massive sale which they just extended to July 8th, in which everything in store is half price, so you can have an artist designed case for your iPhone 4/4S for $9.50 all in, which seems like a pretty great deal to me.

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