The evolution of bunny rabbit ears

During my twelve years of using smartphones, I’ve never felt the need to use a case. I’ve instead kept my phone in good condition by ensuring that it gets a pocket to itself alongside nothing else such as keys to scratch it. I also ensure that I handle it carefully.

I understand the argument about the need to protect a phone with a case in order to maintain its resale value. But I neither buy expensive phones nor do I sell them on. I haven’t bought a premium device since 2010’s HTC Desire HD (if that counts as one), and that felt like it had armour plating. I just no longer see the point of shelling out loads of cash with so many good inexpensive phones to choose from.


Naturally, my phones do pick up tiny scratches and the occasional dent, but this I view as natural wear and tear sustained in the rough and tumble of the real world. Also, this minor damage to my phones gives them unique character, makes them mine.


But things changed when I got my latest phone, a Huawei P9 Lite. I noticed after just a week that the back of this phone was beginning to scuff (and minutely scratch and dink and dent and chip, you name it), just from being picked up and put down all day. The fake metal material that the back was made of seemed terribly, well, scuffable, and it was beginning to look ugly.

Consequently, I attached the supplied case that had come with the other accessories in the phone’s retail box. I already had a screen protector affixed – I hadn’t removed the one that had helpfully been applied in the factory – as I normally would have – because I’d heard that the screen on the P9 Lite wasn’t made of Gorilla glass.


Here are some interesting facts about phone cases:


  • There are 3,000,000 web pages of smart phone cases on Amazon UK, 32,000,000 on Ebay, and 2,700,000 on If all the cases advertised in these pages were heaped together to form a bonfire, the resulting conflagration would stretch to the moon and back sixteen times.


  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has a phone case made of corgi skin.


  • All new mobile technology journalists must serve an 18-month apprenticeship reviewing cases before they are allowed to review smart phones.


  • The BBC has commissioned a 13-part documentary series titled ‘The Evolution of the Smart Phone Case: From Buttons to Bunny Rabbit Ears’, to be hosted by well-known case-o-holic, Stephen Fry.


  • Wikipedia describes the phone case as ‘a phone-shaped piece of some material or other, slightly larger than its intended phone, designed to cover the said phone, protecting it from scratches, dents, solar radiation and missile attacks’.


  • Contrary to popular belief, the phone case was invented before the mobile phone, thus qualifying as a ‘solution waiting for a problem’. Some people believe it was invented by K-Tel, originally as a pillow case for Barbie.


What a lot of crock you say? Of course it is. But that’s because even though they may come in a variety of styles (pouches, sleeves, holsters, shells, skins, bumpers, flip cases, wallets, body films), cases are boring.

Steve Litchfield used to give away phones and accessories in a weekly draw for those listeners who contributed ‘a virtual pint of beer’ to the running costs of his excellent podcast, The Phones Show Chat. But then I guess he ran out of phones, and he started to give away accessories only, including cases. I must admit this struck me as a bit of a comedown. It was like whereas before you could win a car, now you could only win stuff like a spare tyre, a pair of fluffy dice, or a bag of ball bearings.


Incidentally, not long after I fitted the case to my Huawei P9 Lite, the phone slid out of my pocket as I was riding my moped at 35 kph along a busy road in Phnom Penh. I had to dismount and leap out into the road with the fearless resolve of Robocop raising his giant revolver at the oncoming traffic (in my case a halting hand). I managed to retrieve the device from the tarmac before it could be crushed under the wheels of a truck carrying half a herd of cattle, in effect getting run over and trampled at the same time.


My $219 scuffable phone was undamaged, as was the freebie case. I had been lucky. I can’t say that I’m a convert to using cases – a drop of the magnitude my phone suffered that day is a rare occurrence – but I’m not complaining.