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Making a Case for the iPhone

I’m now on my third iPhone in one-and-a-half years. Sounds like a lot. It’s not really. iPhone #1 lasted until it got wet (more on this later), Apple replaced it with iPhone #2, and then I upgraded this past June to the iPhone 3g, iPhone #3. A big question all along has been what to put the iPhone in and how to carry it. It’s nice and sleek without a case, but sleek and slippery are pretty close in feel, and a dropped iPhone with no protection is not going to last long. Running around on assignment, well, accidents happen.

Which brings me back to iPhone #1. I’ve seen many iPhone cases and the one that I’ve liked the most and used the most has been the Case-mate Signature Series Leather case. It’s soft leather so it feels great, it looks great and while it adds some bulk it has protected my iPhones from many a fall. The leather is wrapped around a plastic form fitting shell. Very nice and it looks professional. You’re not going to feel like the guy in that American Express ad who tries to pay for a client lunch with his personalized cartoon-hero credit card thereby killing the deal.

Case-mate Signature Case, Photo: Case-mate
Case-mate Signature Case, Photo: Case-mate

So, how to carry the iPhone around? Short of a man purse or happening to be wearing a jacket, I’m not crazy about putting it in my pants pocket.  Is that an iPhone down there or you just happy to see me?.. It needs a holster. Case-mate makes a holster but similar to the iPhone I’ve been through a few of these. It’s a nice concept and allows the iPhone to rest on a belt. It should work. The problem is Case-mate uses a large plastic clip which doesn’t last long. The clip breaks off or the spring in it (a doubled over piece of thin metal) looses its resistance so the clip no longer holds. Their holster also does not keep a firm grip on the phone.

Which brings me back to iPhone #1. I’m on assignment photographing architectural interiors, working in a renovated bathroom space. It’s tight, not too much room, working with 14mm and 20mm lenses. I’ve got to be by the toilet to get the right angle and shoot through the doorway. Getting to the tripod requires a move out of Cirque de Soleil. If you don’t know where this is going I’ll give you a hint, I should have put the lid down on the toilet… I’m doing the move, twisting to get behind the camera, the clip on the iPhone holster doesn’t hold and down it goes, right into the commode. I fish it out, wipe it off, turn it off, wash my hands, later wipe off the phone with some cleaner, turn it back on after a long time and for a week or so it still works. But then the top line of the keyboard stops working. No qwerty for me. Luckily, Apple replaces the phone under warranty, no questions asked.

So, long story short, finding the right holster that will fit my iPhone with the Case-mate sleeve on it and which has a secure clip has been a googling hobby of mine. I just found it. I had to go to the ends of the earth, okay, I didn’t but my browser and my credit card info did. It just arrived and it’s great. The holster case is made by Nutshell of New Zealand. They make leather cases for all sort of phones, pda’s, cameras, gps’, and more.  For the iPhone alone they offer fifteen case sizes each of which can be customized further. The icing on the cake, they offer a case made to take an iPhone with the Case-mate Signature case on it. Too cool for school. I ordered two in black, one with a clip for me, one without a clip for my wife whose iPhone lives in her purse. You can add a full-flap or a security strap, either with velcro or a magnetic clasp. Nutshell has even measured to make sure the magnet they use is shielded.  The belt clip is a clip with a capital “C.” It is steel and it is not going to break. Your belt will break before it does.

The inside of the Nutshell case is very soft, it won’t scratch your phone, it has a great new leather leathery smell, and the Nutshell holster is very comfortable to wear. Much less bulky against your hip than the Case-mate holster.  Two thumbs up. I think this combo, the Case-mate Signature case with the Nutshell holder, is about as perfect as it can get.

Nutshell Holster Case, Photo: Nutshell
Nutshell Holster Case, Photo: Nutshell

Updated 1/13/09: New Nutshell photo and additional information.


  1. Jon:
    You’ve done a great service to iPhone/case-mate users everywhere. Nice post.
    But let’s face it. Nothing says, “I am comfortable in my own skin” more than a man purse.
    The time is now.

  2. Well, I leave the man purses to you Web 2.0 guys… Seems to work for you if you are spending your day sending out Tweets.

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