this thing's incredible

Am I Gorgeous, or Is It Just My (Ultrafragola-esque) Pink, Mirrored Phone Case?

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

It started so innocently, so practically. I’d dropped my unprotected cell phone one too many times, and finally decided to buy a case for it before the screen shattered. As someone who tends to favor style over function (or common sense), I quickly vetoed OtterBoxes with their bulk and reliability, instead scouring the internet for something clear and sleek — the closest thing to having no case at all. I found what I was looking for at CaseMate, aptly named the Naked Tough case. But just as I was about to click add to cart, I caught a glimpse of another Naked Tough style that was similarly sleek and translucent but with a hint of iridescent pink. It seemed ever-so-subtly cooler and (if you can even say this about a piece of plastic) sexier. Basic, but better. Simply put, it was pretty and I was sold.

When the case arrived, I was happy to find the color just as alluring and understated as it appeared online. But I quickly realized CaseMate had buried the lede. In advertising the case, the brand mentions its iridescence, but says nothing about how it also functions as a little pocket mirror — a detail that I’ve found to really be its true appeal. There’s something about the reflective and shimmery-pink qualities of its material that, together, make the case seem like a tiny Ultrafragola mirror you can have on hand at all times — though I’ve learned from experience that it’s a lot harder to take a selfie looking in the phone case (which, to be clear, is an otherwise unremarkable piece of plastic, while the mirror doubles as a legitimate piece of art).

Yes, there are lots of mirrored phone cases out there. And yes, the good ones will more or less function the same, in that they all will show your reflection when you flip your phone over to make sure your mascara hasn’t smudged or there’s nothing in your teeth. But my CaseMate one is different. Somehow, it makes my reflection look … better. Perhaps the iridescence of the plastic simulates a glow that looks like it’s actually coming from within me. Or maybe those extra-contoured cheekbones I see are just an illusion created by the case’s reflective surface, which has a slightly fun-house-mirror quality to it. Whatever it is, with a flick of my wrist, the case always shows me a version of myself that appears better rested, moisturized, and generally more attractive. And I’m not the only one who thinks so — the case frequently gets a double take from others who see themselves in it. Just last week, three co-workers in three separate meetings caught glimpses of themselves in its reflection and needed to know exactly where I bought it. Even my not easily impressed mother, who has reliably flawless taste, recognized the case’s appeal with just one look. “Oh, that’s clever,” she said.

Case-Mate Naked Tough Case, Iridescent (iPhone XR, XS, XS Max)

If it wasn’t already clear, the case’s main appeal is aesthetic. It isn’t heavy duty, and likely won’t protect much if your phone drops with any kind of velocity. I’ve probably gone through four of them (they tend to scratch) over five years, but CaseMate stuff always seems to be on sale, and even the case’s full price of $40 is far from prohibitory. And honestly, can you ever put a price on a healthy dose of self-esteem?

[Editor’s note: the case is sold in more sizes here.]

A clear, sleek, and heavy-duty case

RhinoShield Bumper Case for iPhone Xs/X

Columnist David Pogue previously told us that this minimalist case, which is really just a bumper that hugs the edges of an iPhone, made his phone “practically indestructible.” It withstood some 53 falls to the ground, Pogue wrote, without developing a single crack on its screen.

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Am I Gorgeous, or Is It Just My Pink, Mirrored Phone Case?