SLIDESHOW

12 Useful (or Silly) Smartphone Cases

We look at smartphone cases that can open a beer, recharge your phone, or stabilize the phone's camera for you--oh and there's one that attaches to Legos.

Carry Your Weight

Not all phone cases are for protection or looks. Many of them have a secondary--and often quite useful--function. From adding a keyboard to your phone to charging it with solar power, these phone cases definitely have a use. It's up to you to determine whether the extra capability justifies the added weight and bulk.

iBottleopener

If bottle caps all too often successfully resist your brawny muscles, and you can't find a 3D app that removes recalcitrant caps, you probably need the iBottleopener. Fear not--the makers have tested this case to ensure that, even if your cap-removing technique causes your beer to foam up like a sudsy Mount Vesuvius, the mishap won't harm your precious iPhone. Use the iBottleopener like any other bottle opener, and please drink responsibly.

iPhone SLR Case

When your iPhone's tiny camera lens just doesn't cut it and your DSLR is a little too important to use, why not bring the iPhone SLR mount into play? By mounting your own Nikon SLR or Canon EOS lens to the case, you get a "powerful depth of field and manual focus." Like magic, your puny iPhone becomes a beastly DSLR--or at least a mediocre point-and-shoot with a fancy lens attached to it.

Metal Case With Lens Attachment for iPhone 3G/3GS

If for some reason the iPhone SLR mount isn't quite right for you, consider this Japanese-made case instead. It looks like a very sturdy way to attach lenses to your iPhone, but it doesn't appear to support the iPhone 4. The maker also cautions that, since the case is made of metal, picking up Wi-Fi or other wireless signals might be a bit problematic.

Lego iPhone Case

If you'd like your iPhone to bristle with little plastic nubs that you can attach other things with plastic nubs to, pick up one of SmallWorks' Brick Cases. Any of these cases will protect your phone and--as a bonus--let you stick Legos to it. Has anybody who owns this case tried mounting Lego pieces elsewhere--like on the car dashboard or above an outlet--and then attaching their phone to it? Could be fun!

Solar-Powered iPhone Case

This bulky case claims to act as a solar charger for your iPhone when you place it in direct or indirect sunlight. The company says that 2 hours of sunlight eposure will yield 30 minutes of 3G talk time. Solar-powered cases seem like a good idea; but in practice, they rarely perform as expected. Be sure to check the user reviews before purchasing one. As for me, I'm going to wait until phones with photovoltaic screens appear.

Watch on Back of iPhone Case

I fail to see the utility of this clock-embedded alligator-skin case, as your iPhone already has a clock on it that is probably more accurate than most traditional timepieces. But of course this item, made by De Bethune, is less for telling time than for distinguishing its bearer as a member of the conspicuous-consumption class. I'm guessing that the case costs a fortune; one online source pegs it at $34,000--presumably without the iPhone. Rock on, rich folk!

Light/Flash for 3G/3GS iPhone

If you use your iPhone to take lots of pictures, you know that a flash would be a huge help in low-light situations. But if you have a 3G/3GS phone like I do, you're stuck taking pictures in the dark. Enter the Beamer, an iPhone case that crudely adds a light/flash to your iPhone. I say "crudely" because it runs on those little button cell batteries that cost a fortune--and because you have to press a button to turn it on before you take a picture.

Rugged Case With Removable Clip/Stand for iPhone or Droid X

Some Android phones come with little stands that flip out of the back, built right onto the phone. The stand lets you set up the phone vertically to watch movies or perhaps to serve as an alarm clock. the Trident Kraken Series will give you the same feature, but with a much bigger profile. This rugged case promises to protect your phone, too.

Keyboard Case for iPhone 4

A physical keyboard has some distinct advantages--most notably accuracy, speed, and freedom from having to deal with autocorrect. The Keyboard Buddy case features a slide out keyboard, much like the Motorola Droid's keyboard, but (I hope) with better keys. This keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPhone, and it claims to provide 45 days of use before needing recharging. It's a great way to get a physical keyboard onto an iPhone, though at the cost is of additional weight and bulk.

iPhone Case With Card Holder

I don't like sitting on a giant lump every time I take a seat or ride my bike, so I like to keep my wallet thin. This Case-Mate iPhone case lets you carry an ID, a credit card, and maybe a $20 bill, all right alongside your phone. Here at PCWorld, we need to wave entry cards at a scanner to get in the building. Having that card in this case might work well.

Waterproof iPhone Bag

Ideal for users who have pools or like to take water-oriented vacations, this case is pretty much a hardcore zip-lock bag. You put your iPhone 3Gs or iPod Touch inside, zip it up, and then take photos with the hardware while in or near water.

Help for the Visually Impaired (Concept Case) for iPhone

This detailed iPhone skin is a conceptual design meant to help visually impaired users interact with an iPhone. The designer claims to have developed an app that works in tandem with the case, as well "moon type tactile feedback."

We agree with commenter Dabamash who wrote: "I don't understand how it works, but I reckon that if it does, it's a fantastic idea." Even if it doesn't work, there's a certain beauty to the hieroglyphic design.

Where Are the Crazy or Useful Android Phone Cases?

Seen any useful cases for your Android phone that you want to share?
Let us know in the comments below!