Travel Tech Series

iPhone Cases That Will Improve Your Trip

Posted by Scott Tharler on February 13, 2012 at 2:41:41 PM EST | Post a Comment
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Caption: (top left) The Callet blue and pink wallet-cum-phone cases; (top center) LifeProof’s purple case; (top right) Popsocket’s prop-it-up phone case; (bottom left) Eco Pod’s waterproof protection; (bottom center left) WrapSol Ultra’s clear film cover; (bottom center right) Joby’s GorillaMobile bumper case with tripod; (right middle) EXOvault’s brass belt buckle; (bottom right) Michael Kors iPhone Wristlet

Sure, any case will make your smart phone look snazzy. But why settle for simple aesthetics when you can also get improved functionality? The iPhone outerwear we recommend offer more than flimsy skins, fruity colors, and jazzy patterns. They actually perform useful functions that help you travel easier. With these cases, you can protect your phone as you rock out, work out, power up, or wind down—no matter which time zone you're traveling in.

The Fashion Maven

What It Is: Michael Kors iPhone Wristlet ($79.95, pictured), The Callet ($24.99, pictured), and EXOvaults EXO7 ($300, pictured)

Why You Need It: Style and staying connected don't have to clash. The red patent leather Michael Kors iPhone Wristlet is a smart choice for your smart phone. This sassy clutch keeps your money and mobile easily accessible when you need them, and tucked away and safe when you don't. For a simpler all-in-one wallet and phone case, the Callet is a more casual choice. The rubber case is available in several colors for iPhone and Blackberry. Finally, form and function meet with EXOvault's EXO7 phone holster-cum-belt buckle, which is available in a variety of shades including Western-inspired brass and sleek brushed aluminum. It’s an upmarket alternative to the geeky phone holsters. Best of all, the detachable swivel clip gives the case life beyond the buckle.

Where to Buy: Visit Michael Kors, TheCallet.com, and EXOvault

The Global Adventurer

What It Is: LifeProof ($79.99, pictured) and WrapSol Ultra ($29.95, pictured)

Why You Need It: LifeProof is the ultimate mix thin, tough case. It is fully waterproof, so you can even take your iPhone swimming. The new Gen 2 version will also safeguard your device from dust, dirt, snow, and impact damage. The only way to get less bulky but still defend against dings is with the WrapSol Ultra. The product is a deceptively protective clear film that’s laser-cut to fit your iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. Beyond shielding your device from scratches, smudges, and fingerprints, this barely visible sheild can actually prevent against shock damage from drops up to six feet.

Where to Buy: Visit LifeProof and WrapSol

The Fit Traveler

What It Is: Adidas miCoach Armband ($29.99)

Why You Need It: If you’re the type who picks out your hotel based on its gym facilities or its proximity to jogging trails, the Adidas miCoach Armband is your perfect-fit phone case. It has an easy-access port for your headset or headphones, and gives you sweat-proof access to your touch screen. An added bonus? The armband has a special pocket for your room key.

Where to Buy: Visit Griffin Technology

The Power User

What It Is: Eton Mobius ($80), MiLi Power Pack 4/S ($99.99), and Third Rail ($89.99)

Why You Need It: Nothing slows down a vacation quicker than running out of juice. The durable solar Eton Mobius is great for adding hours of audio, video, talk, or Internet to your camping and outdoor adventures. Or, for enjoying extended indoor time away from home, the sleek MiLi Power Pack 4/S is the world's longest lasting iPhone battery case, tripling the life of your 4 or 4S. And real power users who know exactly when they do and don't need an extra boost should check out Third Rail, which offers a removable battery pack. When your phone is powered up, the slim case stays on, but you can strip the external battery and use it to charge other devices.

Where to Buy: Visit Eton, Mili Power, and Third Rail

The Outdoorsy Music Aficionado

What It Is: iMainGo X ($69.95) and Eco Pod ($49.99)

Why You Need It: Hiking, fishing and camping are great ways to tune out the noise of daily life—but that doesn't mean you can't tune in your favorite tracks. Tuck your favorite music player/phone into the belly of the sturdy, water-resistant iMainGo X and sit back as it kicks out amazingly rich, loud sound. (It also offers dual headphone jacks, in case a buddy wants to rock out, too.) Should your itinerary include dusty hikes, snowy trails, sandy beaches, or white-capped waters, the Eco Pod speaker case is as rugged and resourceful a haven for your device (and credit cards, identification cards, and cash) as you'll find. It offers a super-strong rubberized shell with a clear view of your device, waterproof audio jack and earbuds, and a detachable carabiner for attaching it to a backpack or tent pole.

Where to Buy: Visit Portable Sound Labs (iMainGo X) and Grace Digital Audio (Eco Pod)

The All-Terrain Traveler

What It Is: Popsockets ($25, pictured) and GorillaMobile iPhone 4/4S ($39.95)

Why You Need It: Mountains or tropics? Plane or train? Active or relaxing? What else is travel, other than a seemingly endless series of choices? Popsockets features a pair of independently expandable sockets that act as stands for propping, watching, and talking—plus a great system for managing your ear-bud cord! It's a great case for folks who like options (we’re so ahead of the curve, that it’s not even available for purchase yet. Check here for updates). A very different but similarly versatile case, the GorillaMobile iPhone 4/4S pops on Joby's characteristic bendy-knobby legs. So you can perch, wrap, and position it wherever your travels take you and whatever your needs are at the time. As a bonus, it also includes a camera adapter clip.

Where to Buy: Visit Kickstarter for more information on Popsockets, and Joby (GorillaMobile)

Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.

Photo Credits: courtesy (top left) The Callet; (top center) LifeProof; (top right) David Barnett; (bottom left) Max Borges Agency; (bottom center left) Dave Bradley/Wrapsol; (bottom center right) Max Borges Agency; (right middle) EXOvault; (bottom right) Michael Kors

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