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Appletell reviews the Case-Mate DIY Custom Case for iPhone and iPod touch

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Reviews

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Provides: Protection for iPhone or iPod touch
Developer: Case-Mate
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or iPod touch 2G
Price: $34.99 (iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 2G), $39.99 (iPhone 4)
Availability: Now

For the most part, iPhone and iPod touch cases have some really nice designs available. Colors, textures and artwork are used to set cases apart, so the smarter companies bring in some high level artists and designers to give the case some flair. What they don’t usually use, however, are photos of your kids. Or a vacation photo. Or that glistening spiderweb photo that won you a blue ribbon at the county fair. Case-Mate will help you out with their DIY Custom Case, and they’ll do it in a unique way.

Custom cases are nothing new, but few give you the option to upload your own photo to put on a hard case. Case-Mate does. If you need one for the iPhone 4, they’ll put your photo on their Tough case. The 3GS and iPod touch 2G both go on their Barely There model. Either way, you’re getting a pretty tough and well-fitted (but no frills) case that’s much more personal than, say, a sports logo or Ed Hardy illustration.

The process is so easy that I may actually complicate it by trying to describe it. You start by going to custom.case-mate.com/diy/. You have the choice of uploading your own image or selecting artwork from their gallery. For this review, I’m focusing on the image upload. Once you select that option, a window opens for you to upload your image. If it’s too small, you’ll get a warning with the recommended minimum size, and you can elect to proceed or pick a new image.

You’re then asked for your device type:

Case-Mate DIY Custom Case

Everything you need to get a proper fit is on the next screen. You can drag the image around a blank shell to get the proper positioning, then scale it for a good fit. The camera cut-out is included on the shell so you can make sure you’re not cutting out someone’s face or what not. You can even rotate your image if your source photo isn’t straight.

Case-Mate DIY Custom Case

Then, you submit it. That’s all there is to it…I mean, other than whole agreeing to the terms and conditions and paying for it things. Then, depending upon your shipping choice, you’ll get something like this in about a week:

Case-Mate DIY Custom Case

You’ll note the alignment is off between what I gave them and what they gave me; the photo ended up being placed a bit too high on the case. That’s not a deal killer, though, and I don’t see a way around that other than to have them send a photo proof, which would just slow down the process and likely raise the cost. To compensate, I recommend you pick a photo or design that’s not pushing elements of interest too close to the edges or camera hole.

The print color is surprisingly good; a bit too saturated in the reds, but that could be the photo we used, which was taken with an iPhone instead of our higher quality Nikon. The color does fade a bit at the edges as they wrap around the phone, but you can’t see this when showing off the photo itself.

I can’t comment on the Tough case, as we only tested the Barely There case on the iPhone 3GS. That one is a decent enough hard case that’s quite thin and fits the iPhone very well. The top and back are completely open, with a wide opening on the side for the volume buttons and silence switch. The camera hole is also more than wide enough, but slightly off center, too. The rest will provide good protection from scratches and scuffs.

If you were to just purchase a Barely There case, you’d get it for $20. So, you’re paying an additional $15 for the custom photo. That’s worth it. There are many things you can do with this option: your own artwork, your company’s logo, and photos of whoever for whoever. Especially during the holiday season, here’s a great opportunity to create a unique, personalized gift that’ll mean quite a bit more than a gift card. The recipient will also benefit from some solid edge and corner protection for his/her iDevice, along with the back, which is something you don’t get from customized skins.

And next year, you can just enter your iPhone case in the county fair hobby barn. I don’t recommend leaving your iPhone in it, though.

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Case-Mate DIY custom case review

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