Specialized smartphone cases


A friend gave Christine Mango her iOpener phone case after too many previous phone failures.

"It was a gift after about 15 broken phones," she said.

Mango loves that it does more than protect.  It's also a bottle opener and a conversation piece.

"It's funny to grab a bottle and say, 'Hey, I'll get that.'  People get a big kick out of it," she added.

The iOpener is just one of many.  Another example is the Atomyzer.

"The iPhone case which sprays liquid. Which is hand sanitizer, cologne, perfume or in the near future, pepper spray, asthma meds and anything which sprays," explained Rahul Dharod, who created the Atomyzer.

It's in the production phase now. And in this $1.3 billion industry in the United Sates, CNET's David Carnoy says specialty cases are standing out.

"You get these little interesting little cases that do things like have tools in them, or have little extras that people may or may not use during the day but kind of can have fun with," he said.

One of the hottest trends he's seeing: modular cases that perform multiple functions, like the myTask.

"It has an actual insert in it.  It has a bunch of tools inside, there's also one for bike tools so you can swap those in and out," explained Carnoy.

Others offer a place for headphones, memory sticks, sound amplification or even tools to enhance your photos.

"You can attach these little lens attachments to it so you can have a wide angle lens for your iPhone or even a telephoto lens," Carnoy added.

And for all those smartphone gamers, the Logitech case doubles as a gaming controller.

"And it also charges your iPhone at the same time so while you're playing games you can keep a good battery charge," explained Carnoy.

Dharod says we're seeing an explosion of multipurpose protection because your smartphone is valuable real estate.

"We can forget everything in our house but we can't forget to carry our cellphone," he said.

But Carnoy has this heads up for anyone considering investing in a pricey case.

"As you switch your phone you won't necessarily be able to bring that case along with you," he said.

That's because phone shapes and sizes often change, but he points out you can always sell the specialty case along with the phone.  And, he says you can bet on more unique options making it to market.

"As long as we have millions of phones out there, we'll see all kinds of cases," said Carnoy.

Mango finds her phone case functional and fabulous.

"It does the trick, what I need, protects my phone, and it has an added bonus," she said.

With some cases incorporating knives or even cigarette lighters, you've got to keep your case in mind if you're traveling by plane.  The Transportation Security Administration tells us quote: "Regardless of the item, if a knife is embedded in the item, it will be prohibited. We do allow small scissors and bottle openers, along with lighters-just not torch lighters."