When I saw I Make My Case at CES I was more than impressed, I was flabbergasted. I know, who cares about an iPhone case that much? Well, that’s exactly it. Usually I hate all aftermarket cases since it defeats my purist attitude to the iPhone, plus most cases are an attempt to make you an individual but since they’re prefabricated it negates that. So you see, the chance to adhere my own design to a case, and one that is super slim and svelte feeling, well, I had to jump at the opportunity. Disclaimer: So I reached out to Case-mate and they hooked me up with a coupon code for one free case, which usually costs $40. Yeah, it’s not cheap, but that’s the price you pay for individualism.
Due to copyright issues, and God knows what else Case-mate could get sued for, they’ve chosen to go the route of artist palettes only. Basically that means they’ve commissioned artists to make some prefabricated cases – some cool designs I might add – as well as a set of palettes (think Photoshop custom shape tool) that let’s you make an almost 100% custom case.
The site is built entirely on Flash, so be patient and as with Flash expect it to be a big processor suck. My last gen 15-inch Macbook Pro non-unibody Mac would turn on its fan anytime I visited the site to build or modify my custom cases. From a UI standpoint it’s all rather intuitive. Just pick the artist that most represents your style, choose customize (Design your case with ‘artist name’) and you’re in.
There are three options: Backgrounds (the color of the case), Elements (shapes, paint splatters, etc) and Tools (mirror effect, Colorist effect, Kaleidoscope). Designing your case is as simple as picking one or all of these options. The real customization is in what you do with the Elements since these have the most variability in how they behave on the case and the largest palette of any of the three options. Some, not all of the Elements allow you to increase/decrease size as well as rotate them 360 degrees. Others, however behave like a spray paint can (numerous instances with one click) or appear just once. I didn’t care for the spray paint can like Elements since they were difficult to control and tended to remove the custom feeling.
When it comes to designs, I prefer two colors max – just a personal preference. But more often than not the Elements I wanted to use were available in more than two colors and left my case looking like a leprechaun had puked all over it. To get around this I used the Colorizer tool to change my entire design to red. The only downside to using this tool is that the more you use it the darker the colors become; kind of like layering coats of paint onto a white wall. So I suggest you use this effect at the end of your design if you’re trying to achieve a uniform color. Of note the Mirror and Kaleidoscope effects were useful, especially if you would like to have some sense of uniformity to your design. In the end I didn’t use these tool, but still appreciated their abilities.
Once you’ve completed your design, which you can share on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to get feedback, you just need to purchase the case. I ordered my 7 days ago and today it showed up on my doorstep. The boxing mimics the Apple iPhone, except it’s white and included is a screen protector, a cleaning cloth and an additional rubber case that has now alluded my presence (Jeff stole it from me). I’m rather surprised they’d send an additional case with the package, but even if they hadn’t I’m very impressed with the quality and packaging. If I had to complain about anything it’s the excessive amount of business sized cards contained inside the box, but a moot issue nonetheless.
As far as my custom case goes, I love it. As you can see from the pics, though, the colors that are depicted online are much brighter than the actual case. Also, you can see some printing defects on the top left and bottom right corners. The volume opening looks a bit chewed up, almost melted, but nothing you could see from afar, which is really what this case is all about, right? I did notice that there is some space between the back of the iPhone 3GS and the case, which allows the case to shift around ever so slightly if some force is applied. I’d prefer a flusher fit, but nothing I’d return the case for.
So the final result: the I Make My Case is worth every penny. Even though I didn’t pay for it this time around, I’m tempted to order some of my other designs and have a case for every other day of the week. The processing time is efficient, the printing, though a bit off in color is fantastic and the individualism is more than omnipresent. It would be nice if I could upload my own logo, and lowering the price would no doubt attract a larger audience.
Update: In the light of day we noticed that the case doesn’t fit 100% flush on the iPhone’s body. As a result I’ve lowered my score to 3.5 from 4.5 stars.
Update 2: Case-mate read the review and sent me a new one with the same design. This iteration lacks the faded corners but still isn’t a complete snug fit. With that said I’ve now given the case 4 stars.
- Custom case that looks prefab quality
- Easy to use website and UI
- Wide selection of artist palettes and growing
- Website colors don’t accurately represent print colors
- Flash based website is a processor hog
- Custom print fades at the corners
- Case doesn’t completely fit flush
Start your Case-mate custom case today at I Make My Case for $40!