Money

Just in case

By Natalia Manzocco, Special to Postmedia Network

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The only thing more inescapable in the tech world than the iPhone might have to be the glut of Apple-friendly cases, holders and chargers it's spawned. Odds are, if you can think of an iPhone accessory, some designer somewhere already has it prototyped or patented. Cases may be the most common -- the minimalist, bar-like shape of the iPhone lends itself easily to shells that hug its frame, and the glass construction means that -- unless you want your house keys to do a number on the finish -- you basically need to put something on the outside.

There are countless shades, styles and builds available, from thin and sticker-like to insulated and rugged. The toughest challenge? Finding a case that offers more than just cursory scratch protection -- without looking like your iPod is wearing a life jacket. Keep your phone stylish and safe with these finds that walk the line. (Android and BlackBerry users -- your accessory guides are coming. We promise.)

Reliable protection meets customizable whimsy in Incipio's Dotties case. The sturdy silicone sleeve comes with a selection of colourful spots that plug into the back, letting you switch them around to suit your outfit or your mood. (Yes, it's kind of like those charms that plug into the holes of Crocs shoes -- except this case will make you look cool.) It's available in six colours at amazon.com for $19.99.

I've got techie friends who refuse to put a case on their iPhone, saying they don't want to cover up that sleek, graceful design. To those people, I humbly submit the Box Case from inCase, which comes in a translucent rubber that gives your iPhone the effect of being suspended -- like Han Solo in carbonite. The other options, including a stark white and an on-trend coral-pink hue, accent the sharp edges -- a design style not usually seen in iPhone cases, which tend to mimic the gentle curves of the phone itself. The sharp corners also mean extra padding in those areas, which will come in handy in case of a drop. The Box Case is available for $29.95 at goincase.com.

Ballistic's Hard Core cases have earned accolades for their resistance to damage, but they look pretty much like the company name suggests. There may be a tradeoff between sleeker design and the phone protection factor, but the company's new Life Style Smooth Series cases may provide a happy medium. The sleeve offers a lower-bulk design in a number of fun shades. For those who want that customization factor, the Smooth Series comes with four sets of interchangeable corner bumpers in different colours. (Bonus: Ballistic makes beating-proof cases for a slew of cell phones, including BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung and Motorola models.) They're available for $29.99 at goballisticcase.com.

For more than just a slip-on sleeve's worth of protection, there's the aluminum-and-polycarbonate Wrangler case from IvySkin. The lining has a built-in airbag effect meant to absorb shocks, and the case assembles around your phone and locks securely shut, so it won't split open and expose your phone on impact. The anti-glare, touch-sensitive glass screen cover is also a nice bonus. Neat feature: Each case comes with "home" buttons in two different shades, so you can keep it uniform or add a pop of colour. Grab a Wrangler for $49.99 at ivyskin.com.


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