How Much Is ‘Solace’ Of Mind Worth When Buying A Protective Case For An iPhone?

COMMENTARY: 05.22.19- Smartphone cases give us peace of mind by providing ample protection for such a fragile gadget and the sky’s the limit as far as choices go with a plethora of brands, styles, colors, and, of course, price points but how much would you spend on one piece of plastic (or other material) to ensure the physical safety of your expensive investment in a premium device such as an iPhone?

We shell out a lot of dough to buy Apple products so with devices like an iPhone, most people, like myself, want to protect it and leave it in tip top shape just like it was when originally taking it out of its box so we buy a case to keep it safe from any harm. Considering how many hundreds of dollars an iPhone costs, the price you pay for a case to cover your device is a nominal price to pay.

Which begs the question: just how much is peace of mind worth when purchasing a case to protect your precious iPhone?

The “Solace” series smartphone case for the iPhone SE/5S/5, seen here in its box, from the Element Case line of products by STM Brands. (Photo: Regina Leo)

Case in point… and yes, pun intended, I recently discovered the “Solace” series from the Element Case line of products — a brand of premium cases for the iPhone (and Samsung Galaxy) — manufactured by STM Brands. The case weighs in at a hefty retail price of $79.95 for the model compatible with my smartphone, an iPhone SE.

I was again on the search for a new case, yet another one (I already have three: two regular cases and an extended battery case), for my iPhone SE because I was getting tired of feeling the same thing in my hands all of the time so I like to switch out my cases every few months or so. I may be visually impaired (since 2013 and completely blind, something my regular readers already know) but I am still very picky about the different factors that come with shopping for and selecting a case for my iPhone — like color, even if I can’t see it and appreciate / enjoy it — though nowadays, the major factor for me when searching for a case ever since becoming visually impaired is how it feels in my hand and its tactile elements like whether there are physical buttons on the case or if it has extraneous features like ridges or rubber grips.

As anyone searching and shopping for the perfect case for an iPhone can attest to,, finding just the right one can involve multiple test drives of different products on the market (a lucrative one at that) — I bought and returned three cases before settling on the one I did — to see various factors like how it fits on the device, whether it is stylish in appearance, how good it feels in your hand, and whether it will protect your smartphone in the event it is dropped. Then after all of that, of course, you have to consider the price.

So, with that said, after doing some shopping for a few weeks now, weighing all of the aforementioned factors in searching for a new case, I’ve found the winner with the Element Case “Solace” series.

The “Solace” series for the iPhone SE (also compatible for the iPhone 5 & 5S) is a pretty rugged and solid product which it well should be considering the premium price tag attached to it! After unboxing the case and taking it out, I immediately fell in love over how it felt in my hands. With its matte surface which the company calls a soft touch finish and a strip of rubber lining the left and right sides of the case, both offer a way to grip the device without it sliding out of your hands when in use.

The coolest aspect of the “Solace” series is the aircraft grade material that some parts (the parts not made with polycarbonate material) that the case is constructed with. First are the buttons on the case which seem to replicate exactly the actual buttons on the iPhone itself, giving them a nice and pleasant tactile feel that is very responsive, unlike some cases that cover up the buttons underneath and provide no point of reference to press or toggle. Second are what Element Case calls, crowns, that are on the top and bottom of the case which not only provide a stylish appearance but can really protect the edges of your iPhone during a drop or fall. The caveat is that these crowns must be removed — unscrewed to be exact: there are four screws in total to remove (note that a tool is provided along with two extra screws in case you accidentally lose some) — in order to install the case on, or of course take it off, the iPhone.

For some people, that last characteristic of the case can be a downside (or even a deal breaker?) especially for those who like to switch out their cases often. For me, it’s a trivial issue because I go for a few months on end before getting tired and changing my cases (though being blind does mean that I need assistance from a sighted person to install or remove the case).

However, once the “Solace” series is installed onto your iPhone, you have definite and complete peace of mind in knowing the case is secure and your device will be protected from minor mishaps like scratches and bumps, or heaven forbid, a more major one such as in the event of a drop.

But is a premium price tag justified for providing that level of protection, not to mention sporting stylish features, for an expensive device like an iPhone?

Luckily for me, since the “Solace” series is old (I believe it was first released for the iPhone 5S or perhaps even the iPhone 5) — a search for the product on the company’s website turned up no results and appears to be discontinued (except for the sole product available for the iPhone SE called “Sector 5” which are corner inserts) — the price has come down on places like eBay which is where I bought mine. I even was able to knock down the asking price of $14.95 from a local seller to $13.95 plus tax and shipping. (I tried going lower but it seems that’s as low as they would go despite the best offer in the listing). Notwithstanding the discounted price, in terms of its face value and it’s original cost of $79.95, the “Solace” series is technically the most expensive case ever purchased by me for any iPhone that I have owned.

In my shopping for cases over the years, I have found prices to be an average of anywhere from $19.99 to $34.99 for name brands at retail or as low as $0.99 on eBay for a generic unbranded case from a foreign seller overseas. The most I’ve ever actually spent was $39.99 for a clip on holster and case combo for my iPhone 5 (I forgot the brand) which I got at Best Buy. The cheapest I’ve ever paid for a case was $2.99 on eBay from a seller in China for a generic unbranded silicone case for my iPhone SE (I didn’t really like it so I didn’t keep it).

Be forewarned, though, that price isn’t always a measure of quality! I don’t remember how many months I had the clip on holster and case combo but it broke soon after. In comparison, I honestly believe that cheap (price wise), but durable piece of silicone would have lasted longer if not forever!

What you have to mull over in searching for and selecting a case is whether you are willing to pay full retail for a brand name or buy something cheaper like an unbranded generic item. The worst and not so fun thing about purchasing a case is sometimes we feel the pinch in our pockets be it your wallet, credit card, checkbook, etc. —— and we wince , if not cry, over the prices some of these case manufacturers charge for their products which often can cost an arm or a leg.

For instance, the Element Case line of premium smartphone cases manufactured and sold by STM Brands which fetch a price tag that is itself a premium. And, if you think $79.95 is outrageous — believe it or not, the “Solace” series is the more affordable offering in the Element Case lineup and actually happens to be the cheapest case (not including the “Sector 5” series of corner inserts) — in stark contrast, another series in the lineup sells for close to a whopping $400! (You can get a new iPhone, albeit a few generations back, with that amount of money!).

It is sort of ironic, if you think about it, that we buy cases for our smartphones in the first place. Especially with such an elegant and stunning device as an iPHone. It is a beauty to behold but once you cover it up with a case, however, you lose all of the characteristics that make it unique from materials and color to its shape and the iconic Apple logo.

But, I digress.

With the high cost associated over getting an iPhone, $79.95 really isn’t that bad! A small price to pay for giving you peace of mind as long as it does its job well and provides ample protection for your device. Granted, thankfully I only paid less than a fifth of the actual cost for my premium Element Case “Solace” series so I’m a happy camper. Would I have paid full price for it? Probably not.

My iPHone SE cost me $499 (for the 64GB version) but what about those people who spent twice as much, or more, for an expensive high end iPhone model (e.g. last year’s iPhone XS Max)? Just how much is peace of mind worth to those people when paying for a case to protect their investment in an Apple smartphone? The price you pay and the type of case you get will determine the level of protection it provides for your device but whether that cost is worth it rests on each buyer: one that, when all is said and done, will weigh heavily on one’s conscience and in the end, pocket!

What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a case for your iPhone? What’s the cheapest? And would you pay $79.95 for a premium case, much less, $400? Let me know your thoughts by either leaving a comment below (you must be logged in to your Facebook account) or by sending an email to: j.leo@macprices.net

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