9 do-them-yourself cases and accessories for unique-looking smartphones
With the plethora of nicely designed cases and useful accessories out there, it seems there's something on the market for every taste. But some want to go beyond stumbling upon some unique item and brag to their friends they got it from the most obscure, you-never-heard-of-it web-store ever. Some of you want to literally take the case in their own hands with an original idea on their minds, and produce it themselves. As it is with every craft, the only thing better than walking around with something you won't find anywhere is the sense of accomplishment after successfully coming up with a creation of your own.
We searched for some fresh case and accessory ideas to help you find inspiration. Check them out in the slideshow, and if you have an idea of your own, feel free to share it in the comments.
There's something about this white, paper-folded iPhone dock that makes it seem like a legitimate Apple accessory, and not like something your 8-year old folded in class. The iPhone and its expensive, meticulously crafted body somehow seems completely at home propped up on this $5 origami-like accessory that's made of the cheapest cardboard its creator found in the drawer. The best part is that it's not hard to fashion your own out of some spare cardboard, too. Just download and print the foldable PDF template, then get to work. Unfortunately, the download costs $5, but this is one of the better iPhone docks you'll be getting at that price point. Just don't get frustrated if you don't succeed at your very first try. The Japanese origami masters didn't, either.
Sitting in a cubicle somewhere, some place, with no work on the desk? Lucky you! Enjoy the serenity, or if you can, grab a pair of binder clips and an old business card, and make yourself a quirky smartphone dock like the one in the photo. Some of your colleges will find it awesome. Some of them that think you're weird will now think you're even weirder. Let's hope that fine-looking co-worker of yours you want to take out for dinner will be of the former, and not the latter!
If you don't want to make your DIY accessories completely by yourself, there's the Case-Mate Stacks Case for the iPhone 4/4S. It features six interchangeable sections which you stack on top of each other to form a case - like Project Ara for cases, but let's not get too liberal with that metaphor already. It's a bit of an old product by now, but you can surely find some stock on eBay.
Famous tutorial website Instructables offers this set of steps to create your own DIY solar charger for phones and tablets. It works with both Apple and Android devices Anyway, for a bill of materials amounting to $5 minus tools and work, you can build yourself a rather neat charging pod. If you are comfortable with a soldering iron, wire cutters, some disassembly and elbow grease, follow the link to check out how the procedure goes.
Another great idea for iPhone owners is to download and print some of See That There's templates and stick them under a clear protective case. There are some cool designs to be found there.
The previous idea can be extended into a tutorial to make your own case template with a favorite photo and any clear case for any phone you are using at the moment. Again, it has to be a clear case for this to work out. Basically, you have to trace an outline of your case on a piece of paper, cut around it, print a favorite photo or picture, and cut the print into the required shape. Then, fit it under the clear case, and the results can be as good as you are willing to make them! Check out the tutorial in the link above.
Timbe-e-e-r! For those of you who like the natural beauty of tree bark patterns, the folks at tmbr. are offering a wide choice of wood cases for many popular smartphones. Each case produced is different because the piece of wood that was used to make had an unique pattern, too. As for the DIY aspect of tmbr, there's the option to engrave your own pattern, logo, design, portrait or anything else you want on the back of a case made of bamboo, walnut, cherry, or rosewood. Good stuff, and it only costs $36 with free shipping in the USA.
Blogger Jessica Okui suggests to pick up a clean, white case and fabricate your own pattern by applying washi tape. What is washi tape? It's a type of Japanese paper tape with all kinds of visual patterns that's made for decorating gifts and anything else you can creatively stick it onto, really. Look at this the collection of washi tapes, which goes for between $4 and $10 a roll, and get your imagination rolling. Then again, we're not sure if the tape layers will survive for long under the strains of daily usage, such as pulling your phone in and out of pocket, but we think it's worth a try. Besides, you can always make another.
Love it or hate it, Instagram is one of the biggest things to happen in the smartphone world. Casetagram knows it, and it chalked up a brilliant idea - a service that lets you design your own case template from your Instagram feed. It looks much better in practice than it sounds on paper, and the service is sleek. It begins from the Casetagram Builder page, which lets you choose your device (Apple iPhone 4+, iPad Mini, iPod Touch 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 +, Note 2+, HTC One M8) and design template. It goes on with importing photos from your Instagram account, and ends with choosing a case design. There are Android and iOS apps to carry you through the ordeal, and what's even cooler, you can sign up for a 10$ per month subscription - which means getting custom or designer cases each month.