I was amused by a recently discovered Apple patent titled Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device. The technology, if it ever comes to fruition, involves a “protective mechanism” that is “is in communication with the processor and is configured to selectively alter a center of mass of the electronic device,” according to the patent. Apple Insider has more drawings and a more complete description of the patent.
Amazon filed a patent last year for a mechanism that would use airbags to protect phones and other devices. Both the Apple and Amazon designs would take advantage of the device’s accelerometer, camera, gyroscope and possibly even GPS sensor to know when the phone is falling and trigger some type of protective measure to soften the blow.
In the mean time buy a case and consider insurance
These are both great ideas but I have no idea when and if either will ever come to market and — if they do — what they will add to the cost and complexity of the phone. But while you’re waiting, there are things you can do already to protect your phone, tablet and other devices.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a protective case, nor does that case need to add significantly to the bulk or weight of the device. There are tons of them on the market ranging in price from under $10 to more than they’re probably worth.
I just got a $14.95 Snugg Skinny Fit protective case for my iPhone 5. It’s a rubberized case that covers just enough of the screen itself to help protect it if it happens to fall screen down. There are no airbags, thrusters, fins or computer controlled mechanisms — just molded silicone to cushion any fall. No guarantee it will save your phone, but it’s sure better than nothing and pretty cheap insurance.
Speaking of insurance, if you have an Apple product consider getting Apple Care. It will protect you against some damages. I broke the screen on my iPhone 5 and they replaced it with a new phone for $50.
Some people swear by insurance and others swear at it, arguing that it’s a waste of money. That’s true, of course, if you never use it but after replacing a $749 phone for $50 (that’s what a 32 GB iPhone costs without a contract), I’m swearing by it.
Another possibility is to have your broken phone repaired. Not all damages are fatal. There are a lot of businesses that will now replace broken screens, for example, and some that will do other phone repairs. If you have a damaged phone, see if you can find a shop in your area that might be able to fix it.
There are a number of companies that will sell you an insurance policy in case your phone is lost, stolen or damaged. SquareTrade, for example, sells a 2-year protection plan for $99 that covers drops, spills and other damages. Prices can vary depending on what type of phone you have and how it’s equipped.
Before buying any protection plan, check with your carrier to see what they offer. Also, if you purchased your phone with a credit card, you may get some limited protection from your card company.