Apple pours millions into producing the sleekest, thinnest, most beautiful phones allowed by the laws of physics. We get them home, and what do we do?
We entomb them in blobs of mass-produced silicone rubber.
You know: cases. For protection, for grippiness, maybe to express our individuality.
But I say if you’re going to saddle yourself with the bulk and ugliness of an iPhone case, you may as well get some extra mileage out of it. Fortunately, the world teems with bizarre and wonderful double-duty cases. There are, for example, cases that turn your iPhone into a stun gun, a bottle opener, or a Swiss Army knife.
Those secondary features have nothing to do with the phone’s intended purpose, though. Fortunately, there are some that do. For your entertainment pleasure, I present micro-reviews of three iPhone cases whose secondary functions address the iPhone’s own drawbacks: no keys, nonremovable battery, and nonexpandable memory.
How weird is this? Ryan Seacrest, star of screen and screen, is the driving force behind this idea: a case that adds a BlackBerry-style thumb keyboard to an iPhone 5 or 5s.
Now, before you read much further, you should know that BlackBerry, the company, thinks that the Typo keyboard is more than BlackBerry-style; it thinks it’s a BlackBerry ripoff. And it got a judge to agree. For now, the court has barred Typo from selling any more of this case. (You can, however, still find it for sale online.)
The good news is that the case really works. You pair it with your phone via Bluetooth, and then presto: Anywhere you can type, you just whack away at the tiny plastic keys with your thumb, like millions of BlackBerry-ites before you.
For a lot of people, a real keyboard truly does make typing faster and more accurate than typing on glass. (For one thing, you can touch-type on a BlackBerry-style keyboard. Nobody touch-types on an onscreen keyboard.)
One special key turns on key backlighting, which is extremely helpful in low light.
There’s a steaming-hot serving of bad news, though. The case adds height to the phone (three-quarters of an inch). The result feels weirdly elongated and top-heavy. And jumping back and forth between the keyboard and the screen (to tap things) is clumsy.
The Typo case also covers up your home button. A home key in the lower-right corner duplicates all the home button’s functions (double-press for the app switcher; hold down for Siri). But if you have an iPhone 5s, you can no longer use the fingerprint scanner.
Note, too, that you lose the benefits of the iPhone’s built-in autocorrection, auto-capitals, and auto-apostrophe features when the Typo case is on. Yes, I know autocorrect sometimes gets it hilariously wrong — but autocorrect truly does help with accuracy and speed, at least when you’re using an onscreen keyboard.