A phone case has a very practical purpose. It’s meant to protect your mobile investment from bumps, drops, dirt, and weather. But the history of phone cases is littered with products that detour far from the norm.
There are cases for people who like to pop bubble wrap, cases you need to brush, and even cases that contain another entire phone. Let’s explore this strange frontier:
1. Bubble-wrap case
Few things are as satisfying as pressing on bubble wrap and listening to the popping sounds. Now take that same sensation and apply it to a phone case. There are many versions of a bubble-wrap-style case on the market now, but the original traces back to Japan, where it has the name “puchi puchi case.” “Puchi puchi” is meant to imitate the sound of pressing on the plastic bubbles.
Japanese retailer Strapya World first offered the case for the iPhone 5. Unlike with real bubble wrap, you can press the bubbles over and over again and still get the feel and noise of popping a packaging bubble. It’s a fun option for fidgeters or people looking to de-stress without going through reams of real bubble wrap.
2. Giant Ear iPhone case
Back in 2011, the iPhone 4 was on the market and U.K. novelty maker ThumbsUp released one of the oddest phone cases of all time: the Ear Phone Case. Just as the name promised, the case took the shape of a giant ear, so it would look like you had sprouted an oversized body part on the side of your head every time you answered a call. It even came with a strategically placed cutout for the camera lens so you can still take pictures. Unfortunately, ThumbsUp is no longer in business, but its bizarre case will be remembered for years to come.
3. Ion Monster Fur
Most phone cases don’t need any maintenance. The Ion Monster Fur Cover, however, is an exception. You might want to keep a brush handy to help it look its best. The case adds a luxurious layer of fake fur onto the back of your phone. It seems like this case might actually do a good job of protecting your phone as long as you drop it fur-side-down. It’s also perfect for people who are allergic to cats but still want something fuzzy to pet.
4. Eye Smart iPhone Case
Most people fall on one mobile OS side or the other: You’re either an Android smartphone user or an iPhone smartphone user. But what if you can’t decide? Then check out the Eye case on Kickstarter. The project far surpassed its funding goal on the promise of providing an entire Android device with a 5-inch display built right into a case that fits on your iPhone.
Yes, the Eye is a strange concept. You could just buy a separate Android phone and call it a day, but over 3,000 backers are excited about the idea of sandwiching one directly onto their iPhones. Keep in mind that crowdfunding projects don’t always deliver as expected. Will it be the best of both worlds or an awkward hybrid creature? We’ll have to wait for the cases to come out before we decide.
5. Flir One (first generation)
The Flir thermal imaging camera is a small gadget you plug into your smartphone so you can see the colorful world of heat around you. The thermal images glow red where it’s hotter and blue where it’s cooler, giving you superhuman vision. So where’s the case here? We need to step back into Flir history for a moment. The very first generation of the Flir One came in the form of a case for the iPhone 5 and 5s.
The Flir One case included its own battery pack to power two cameras, one of which helped to deliver thermal images and temperature measurements to the phone. The new standalone gadget versions that plug into almost any newer iPhone or Android device are still nifty, but there was a certain elegance to having it built into a case. The first-gen Flir One is no longer in production, but it still stands as one of the most interesting accessories ever to make its way into a protective cover.