If you had plans to give that special someone an iPhone 4S for Christmas, you may be out of luck; retailers are out of stock, and Apple’s online store is estimating shipments within one to two weeks. So, why not take advantage of this opportunity to get a custom case made in the meanwhile? They make great personalized gifts, and even if the recipient will have or already has an iPhone 4S, they’re worth the wait.
There are numerous manufacturers who offer custom cases, but for this article we’ll focus on Zazzle. They offer multiple case designs for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S and BlackBerry. For this article, I’m going to focus on the iPhone 4S.
To begin the process, go to zazzle.com and pick your case. I went with the Case-Mate Barely There iPhone 4/4S case, as it’s generally well reviewed. Regardless of your election, the next step is simply click the Create A Case button.
This is where you select your image. Zazzle support JPEG, PNG, PDF and Adobe Illustrator (AI) formats, so feel free to be as creative as you like, here. It doesn’t have to be a photo, after all. I went with a full size image out of iPhoto (taken with an iPhone 4). The image isn’t the best, but even at this relatively small file size, the update did take a while.
If you like, you can add text. I didn’t.
Once the image is in place, you can use the onscreen tools to adjust the size and reposition the image. This is important, because chances are good that your image isn’t properly laid out for the measurements of the iPhone. You can expand, shrink, slide, rotate, etc. to get a good fit, but you’ll want to use the online tools to make sure you haven’t pulled your image inside the safe zone or cut your subject with the camera opening or edge wrapping.
Once you’re happy with the look, add your item to the cart, then proceed to checkout.
Zazzle asks for buyers to allow 3 to 7 business days for Case-Mate processing, so you can’t expect it by Christmas or the end of Hanukkah. But a new case is a great way to begin the new year, or perhaps you have a family gathering that trails the holiday. And as I mentioned, “Your other gift is still being made” is kind of acceptable when it’s something this cool. You may even want to wait until the recipient receives the iPhone, then sit down together to create the case. If you want to make it nice and official, you can always go with a gift certificate.
[Update: January 24, 2012]
In late December, the case arrived. Here is the final product:
Although it’s a bit more saturated than in the image I uploaded to Zazzle, it’s also not as bad as it appears in this image, especially in the reds. The alignment is pretty good, but that opening for the camera and flash is just out of control. I can see how a hole that big could have hurt some images, but it’s not a problem here. Overall, it’s a pretty impressive product.