One-Quarter of Smartphone Owners Spurn Cases

If you own a case to protect your fancy-pants smartphone, you're in the majority, but if you don't, you're not as alone as you might think. According to a recent study from the NPD Group, 25 percent of smartphone owners see no need for cases — especially those who own Android phones.

The NPD Group, which gathers analytics on retail behavior, surveyed more than 3,200 smartphone owners over age 13. It found that of the quarter of smartphone owners who go caseless, 70 percent owned an Android phone while only 20 percent owned an iPhone.

Reasons for letting their phones go bare differ dramatically between Android and iPhone users. In general, Android users believed that they would not drop or damage their phones, while iPhone owners believed a case would make their devices too bulky.

MORE: Top 10 Cases for Apple iPhone 5s and 5c

Neither Android nor iPhone aficionados believed, in general, that case prices were prohibitive. iPhone users liked the look of their phones without cases to protect them, while Android users were a little more ambivalent about caseless aesthetics.

Of the remaining 75 percent of smartphone owners who did invest in cases, iPhone users were far ahead of their Android counterparts. While 87 percent of iPhone users owned a case, only 66 percent of Android users did. As for other devices, like Windows Phone and BlackBerry models, only 58 percent bothered with a case.

There are a number of reasons why iPhone users are so much more attached to their cases, but one of the simplest explanations is that iPhones are standardized, whereas Android phones are not.

It's easy to find a case that you like when every manufacturer can target the same device. When there are hundreds of phones available in slightly different styles and conformations, owners are often lucky to find cases that fit at all, much less ones personalized to their tastes.

Android users may also simply be less attached to their phones. While 27 percent of iPhone users want cases that provide maximum protection at all costs, only 13 percent of Android owners feel the same way. iPhone users are also more likely to buy multiple cases, and use cases as fashion statements.

Although the NPD survey did not touch on screens, this could also be a factor in why Android users are so much less protective of their devices. iPhones use glass screens, which are prone to fractures, whereas Android phones tend to use more durable materials, such as Gorilla Glass. A good drop may damage the screen, but won't usually total the phone's display.

Whichever phone you use, investing in a case is not a bad idea. It takes only one good drop to wreck both the look and functionality of your expensive device, and if you're willing to trawl big sites like Amazon and eBay, you can find a case for just about any model.

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Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • jasonpwns
    I'll admit I don't have a case. A decision I regret as my phone slipped out of my pocket at one point and the plastic chipped slightly. I'm not the shortest person so it had a little extra height to fall from too. I have a Samsung Galaxy S Relay so finding a case I like is tricky.
  • burkhartmj
    I have a naked Nexus 4 and wouldn't have it any other way.
  • blueer03
    I don't have a case. I like the way my phone looks, why would I want to cover it up? Plus, unlike some peoples I-phones, it can actually survive a drop. HTC One-X
  • antilycus
    Well with more phones using "Gorillia Glass" it's only a matter of when, not if, the screen will shatter. HTC One, HTC DNA, and just about every new phone out, shatter in seconds when dropped once from a normal height. if it has Gorilla glass you are pretty much saying "it looks pretty until you drop it(without insurance) and are screwed". 2 months into my 24 month contract, I dropped by HTC DNA, it shattered (good job Gorilla glass, sarcasm). Verizon said I am SOL. Replacement cost of phone 700 bucks. STUPID. Get a case
  • jasonpwns
    I've dropped my phone a few times Antilycus on multiple surfaces and the only thing that got scuffed or damaged was the plastic case samsung put the components into. Though I've only dropped it twice on an actual hard surface. I'm generally really careful with my stuff.
  • Rotorhard
    IPhone also uses gorilla glass. As if the generic assumptions as to why iPhone and Android owners choose to not buy cases wasn't enough to discredit these findings as "scientific"
  • jojesa
    I have using smartphones (since the Treo 180) and never used a protective case. Don't see the point of getting a sleek phone to double its size with a bulky case. Did not use cases with G1, G2, Nexus (<- these fell a couple of times and they survived pretty well), and now with Moto X.
  • thundervore
    I have a thin TPU case for my One VX. It is not to protect it from dropping, but for the simple fact that the back of the phone is white and i do not want it to get dirty.
  • p05esto
    I got a huge rubber case on my phone. I've dropped it multiple times with no problems. I also work with it in my pocket, often gets bumped and smacked around. Each to his own. Not really sure the point of the article, but I guess it's just interesting to know what others do and why.
  • rgd1101
    Have screen protector and case. Drop my old phone and cracked the screen, I think the screen protector keep it from shattering, was still usable but hard to see with all the cracks.