When I was a callow youth, if you wanted a case for your cell phone, you had only one option, and it usually wasn’t particularly attractive. As mobile phones became more prevalent with that crucial 18-35 demographic, however, so did options for their customization. Phones like the Nokia 5100 and the Motorola Razr introduced us to a cornucopia of new colors and designs and finally gave 18 year old girls the ability to color-coordinate their phones with their outfits. With advent of the BlackBerry and the iPhone, those options multiplied exponentially. Nowadays, you can score yourself a rad iPhone case in any design and material imaginable – from Mossy Oak Camo to Swarovski Crystal to hand-tooled Bamboo.
In this brave new world, it’s become harder and harder for accessory manufacturers to differentiate themselves in an increasingly flooded market. This is especially problematic for late-comers to the game. How are you supposed to break into the case market when you have literally dozens and dozens of competitors offering almost the exact product? You’d practically have to give them away. Well, if you’re folks at ZooGue, you decide to do just that!
ZooGue’s business model is rather unique – rather than follow the traditional notion of, y’know, actually selling a product – ZooGue has hitched their hopes of market penetration on giving away literally thousands and thousands of iPhone cases. When they first introduced their iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5 cases, they made them available for free – all the customer had to pay for was the cost of shipping. While this process has definitely generated some buzz, I’m not sure how they plan to actually turn a profit.
But enough about the company – this is a review of their product, not their business plan. When ZooGue first announced their free case promotion for the iPhone 4/4s, I took the bait and ordered a dark blue case as a back-up for my other two iPhone 4 cases, which were both starting to show their age. Within a week or two, my free case arrived as promised – a slim, simple case in soft, flexible plastic with a textured grip on the sides. The case was fairly unremarkable, but it fit well, and it I used it quite a bit before the iPhone 5 arrived on the scene.
Within a few minutes of placing my midnight pre-order for the iPhone 5 on September 14 (yes, I was THAT guy – and I was surprisingly unapologetic about it, too), I started looking for a case for my new toy. ZooGue was quick to jump on the iPhone 5 bandwagon, promising me that, for the same terms as before, I could have my own free iPhone 5 case once they went into production in October. For about five dollars in shipping and handling a few minutes of my time, both a White and a Light Blue case would allegedly be making their way to my door, shortly.
Unfortunately, due to some sort of supply issue, these cases only arrived last week. Ever the dutiful blogger, I’ve spent the past week testing them “in the field” with a view towards sharing my insights with you, gentle reader.
As I mentioned, the ZooGue cases feature a slim, lightweight design that hugs the contours of your phone and provides a decent grip and some minimal protection and against scrapes, scratches or the occasional fall. Like most white cases, the ZooGue case eventually started to show signs of discoloration about three or four days in – although by soft plastic standards, that’s actually a pretty robust lifespan. (I once returned a case less than 24 hours after purchasing it because it had gone from white to dirty brown in just a few short hours.) The light blue case fared somewhat better – after several days, it looks as good as new, and at least two or three ladies have complimented me on the color (which, at the end of the day, is one of most important field tests out there – if “Chicks Dig It”, what more can you ask for?).
Unfortunately, the iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5 cases are no longer available for free, although ZooGue is currently offering screen protectors for free and promises to offer other free samples in the future. If you want an iPhone case of your own, they’re currently retailing for $9.99, which is still less than many of their domestic competitors. ZooGue also offers a line of cases for the iPad, Kindle Fire and various Android devices.
While the design of ZooGue’s offerings is not particularly remarkable, while on sale, their product was definitely a good deal for the money. For those of you who have to pay full price, you may be a little underwhelmed, but they definitely offer a solid product at a reasonable price. This probably won’t be the only case you purchase, but if you’re looking expand your palette for color-coordination or you need a good back-up case, this isn’t a bad deal. Check them out at www.zoogue.com.
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