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The Problem with the DIY Balloon Case

I have been looking at alternative methods of protection to see what people are up to trying to protect their much-loved devices from the harsh scrapes and cracks that the world can subject them to. Devices are getting more advanced every model, which is great, but it weighs heavier on our pockets every time a new one is released. People are getting so fed up with the cost of smartphones, smartphone accessories, insurance, and phone repair. So much so, that they are starting to take risks, like going nude (their phones of course), and opting for methods that don’t offer much protection or access at all.

Take for instance, this video for a DIY balloon case for smartphones. While the idea is original, and quite clever, it offers little in the way of protection, aside from minor scuffs and bangs to the corner. Let’s check it out, and then we will go over some of the ways to enhance this homemade balloon case without bursting the balloon (pun intended) of the savvy DIYer.

Here are the steps.

  1. Pick a balloon of your favorite color. If you don’t want to buy a whole pack, party stores offer a variety of unique colors and often sell higher quality (thicker skinned) balloons individually.
  2. Inflate the balloon. Make sure it is wider and taller than the size of your smart device.
    Safely set the device in the center of the balloon.
  3. Try to keep a steady hand on it, as you don’t want the phone to slide off (the last thing you need is a damaged iPhone when you were just trying to save a few dollars by making your own balloon case).
  4. Slowly deflate the balloon by letting air escape from the flap. Keep holding the phone in place as it deflates, allowing the balloon to conform to the shape and size of your device. You can take care of the obscured screen corners by adjusting the balloon and dragging it around to fit the phone more accurately once it has deflated.

What Doesn’t It Do?

So, those are my version of the steps shown, with much more explanation. I would like to point out some of the more obvious flaws with this DIY phone case, as seen in some of the comments.

If you aren’t aware, a lot of the damage sustained by smartphones has to do with the amount of shock it absorbs upon impact. Unfortunately, the balloon case offers little in the area of shock absorption, but lucky for us, phones are getting tougher and tougher to crack.

The next issue is that balloons are made from rubber. Aside from the annoying squeaking sound you will likely hear, friction against this case will cause static electricity. Did you ever rub a balloon against your head as kid? If not, you probably didn’t like science, but static electricity creates cling. Speckles of dust, lint, hair, and other uninvited debris will now be attracted to the case. If you don’t have something to actually protect your ports, this can be a problem. THAT being said, I would like to add this step:

  1. BEFORE placing your phone atop the balloon, protect your ports with an anti-dust plug or port cover. This will also make it easier to locate your ports once the balloon has covered them. This will allow easier access by folding the balloon down, or carefully cutting around them once the balloon has deflated.

Unfortunately, aside from this measure, solutions to remove static cling include hairspray, fabric softener, and body lotion. Probably the safest one, is dryer sheets. If your DIY balloon case gets too clingy, you can test this out every so often to get the particles cleared from its surface.

But, Wait A Minute… ?

The remaining question is most likely something like… “How do I use my camera? Won’t this muffle my speakers? What about that annoying flapping bit at the end?”, and so on. While the DIY balloon case for smartphones was a thrifty and clever idea when it hit the web, it wasn’t very well thought-out. These three issues can mostly be solved by carefully cutting or puncturing around the ports, gadgets, and holes that need to be exposed or plugged. The excess balloon skin can also be cut, tucked, or removed by other means.

All of these tasks must be done tediously, so that they do not tear or weaken the balloon, or damage your device. Your other option is to just fold the balloon over when you need access to certain ports, holes, or your speakers.

So, DIYers and critics alike can take the balloon case as it is, or expand the idea into a money-saving trick. From here, you can decide if this case is for you. You might be a phone nudist at heart, or you might just shell out that extra money for the perfect case, only to use it until the next model upgrade hits the market. Whatever the case (pun intended), make sure you are protecting the delicate inner-workings of your phone with an anti-dust plug or port cover. I can’t help but think that we are onto something that can be optimized or developed to make a DIY idea like this work one day.

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