- Cases add personalized flair to smartphones, which mostly look alike
- Wacky cases can incorporate rubber animals, body armor, famous paintings
- Some include pepper spray, stun guns
Not so long ago, a cellphone used to look like a cellphone. But these days, it's not unheard of to see someone talking on a rabbit pressed to his or her ear.
Because smartphones are expensive, and all look more or less alike, people like to protect and customize them. Which is why phone cases adorned with rubber animals, body armor, extravagant prints, fluorescent colors -- even pepper spray and stun guns -- are everywhere.
It's gotten to the point where it's uncommon to see a naked phone.
Makers of accessories have also adapted to the reality that most people have their phone with them at all times. So they've developed cases that eliminate the need for someone to keep extra items, such as mirrors or cigarette lighters, in their purses and pockets. Cases, like the phones themselves, can help streamline our lives.
The decorating options are endless. For fashion aficionados, there are cases designed by the likes of Prada and Gucci, and even gold cases studded with diamonds. An art-lover? Your phone could be embossed with reproductions of famous paintings or enclosed in a customizable metal case with interlocking pieces.
For the child who's just been given her first phone -- and is sitting, engrossed in "Candy Crush" -- there are cases with cartoon characters and ones with extra cushioning to protect the device from falls.
Today's cases have come a long way since the early days of cellphones, when wearers tucked the devices into unattractive leather hip holsters. As mobile devices have evolved from brick phones to flip phones to smartphones, protective cases have changed to keep up.
The iPhone's release in 2007 changed cellphone history, not only because of its technology but for the wave of retooled protective cases it inspired. With colorful designs and prints, the cases were like nothing that had been available before. Apple-manufactured cases flooded stores, followed soon after by other iPhone-specific brands.
Rival phone makers were soon forced to follow suit and develop competitive covers for their customers.
In recent years, as phones have become smarter, sleeker and indispensable, the need to accessorize them has also grown. While many people opt for protection, just as many choose to dress them up, flipping the scales and sacrificing practicality for fashion.
Although only about 25% of smartphone users own iPhones, their cases are often the most creative. But owners of other types of phones still have plenty of options.
Here are a dozen of the coolest, and flat-out strangest, cases we could find, ranging in price from $25 to more than $10 million. Some are useful, while others seem frankly inconvenient. And one even reinterprets the phrase, "give me a hand."
Do you have an unusual case for your phone? Let us know in the comments.