Ever wonder how much you should pay for iPhone protection? There's formula for that. If you don't want to read this whole post, here's the shortcut: just multiply the cost to replace your phone by 30%. I'll explain later.
Risky or Phonophobe?
For years, I used the slimmest, most minimal case I could find for my iPhone 4. The only time that bit me was when my phone fell out of my pocket as I was getting into my car at a mall. It was raining. I didn't realize the phone was gone until I got home.
I drove back in a panic. The lot was dark, rain drizzled. I was mad. I drove carefully down the lane I'd parked in. Only a few cars were on the lot. At least this part of the lot. I took that as a good sign. Maybe nobody's run over it.
I'd parked right next to a cart bin. I pulled in the spot on the opposite side of same bin to avoid running over my own phone.
I got out of the car, walked around the cart bin, and there was my phone, face down, glistening with rain.
I bent over and picked it up. The home button had died long before, so I pressed the top power button.
No broken screen. No cracks. And it worked.
Clearly, the water had done some damage. So I turned it off.
I went through all the standard dewatering hacks--rice, dry space, leaving it off for 4 days, etc. When I pulled it out, it worked.
Over time, the 30-pin connector got a little salt build-up. I'd clean it with 95% alcohol, and it would work. I had to do that about every two months.
But the phone worked. I was lucky.
My wife, on the other hand, is a phonaphobic. She insists on encasing her phones in huge, water-tight, bomb-proof, radiation-resistant cases that quadruple the size of the device. And she lectures me to do the same.
"If anything happens, you're s.o.l., buddy."
The Phone Protection Formula
Here's the thing: you can figure out exactly how much to spend on iPhone protection using simple statistics. I'll show you how with this formula:
P = rc(p), where P = amount of protect, rc = replacement cost, and p = probability of total damage.
To figure out how much you should spend on protection, you'll need to know how much you'd pay for a new phone based on your plan's terms, the phone you'd buy, etc. And the amount of protect should include insurance, Apple Care, and protective cases.
Say a new phone would cost me $650, since I recently upgraded my device. According to SquareTrade®, a leading technology protection plan provider, about 30 percent of Americans destroy their iPhones every year. (I don't have statistics for other phones, but assume it's about the same.) That means the probability of damaging your phone is 30 percent a year.
So my P value is $650*.3, or $195 in the first year of a contract. I didn't buy Apple Care, but I did buy AT&T's full replacement insurance for $5 a month that I can cancel anytime. So I've already spent $60 on insurance. That means I could spent up to $135 on cases and other protection and come out ahead.
Yielding to my wife, I bought a Lifeproof Fré for $92, tax included. But it sucked. People couldn't hear me talk. Yeah, the case was waterproof. It was also soundproof.
So I downgraded to slim case that offered drop protection That case was only $16. That was great until I came within an eyelash of dropping the phone into a urinal. (Don't ask.) So I started eyeballing waterproof cases again.
I'd heard that the Lifeproof Nuud is thinner and works better than the Fré. The problem was the Nuud retails for $90, which would put me over my insurance budget. I'd already spent $60 on insurance and $108 on cases. If I spend more than $28 on a new case, I'd have paid more for protection than the probable cost of damage.
Then, I was walking through a Marshall's and saw Nuuds for $29. I bought one, and I love it. With taxes, I was a couple of dollars over my limit, but the peace of mind is worth it.
So if you're thinking of upgrading to the awesome new iPhone 6, you should apply my simple formula when deciding how much protection to get. And don't forget to include insurance and cases in your total protection budget.
Here's SquareTrade's infogrpahic on iPhone damage