Case-Mate DIY Case for iPhone 3G/3Gs Review: Create Your Own Mastercase

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Custom cases are all the rage. Several companies have emerged over the last year allowing users to create their very own custom case by uploading their personal photos and images to a web-based program which the company then turns into a case; this allows the end-user to make a case that’s truly their own.

Case-Mate‘s revolutionary “I Make My Case” program which launched at CES 2010 really set the standard for case image manipulation allowing users to take art work from the Case-Mate site and alter it to their liking, mixing and matching pieces to make each case one of a kind.

Now Case-Mate has added another feature to their custom case lineup. The DIY case allows users to upload their own image and have Case-Mate turn the image into a case for the iPhone 3G and 3Gs. The DIY case is built upon Case-Mate’s popular Barely There case for the iPhone 3G/3Gs.

The first step in the process is selecting an image you’ll use. Case-Mate needs the image to be at least 2000 x 2000 pixels to properly fit it onto the case. Finding an image that large is harder than you think it’ll be. If you have a high mega-pixel camera chances are you’ll have plenty of photos that are usable.

Since I no longer carry the iPhone 3Gs (I’m now using the iPhone 4), I chose an image my wife would enjoy as the 3Gs is her phone now. This image was taken with a Sony digital camera this past father’s day.


Once you’ve got your image head to the Case-Mate web site. Once there go to the iPhone 3Gs case area and choose the DIY case. You’ll then be brought to the web-based tool which helps you design your case. At that point you can choose to use one of Case-Mate’s pre-chosen art works or upload your own image.

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To upload your own image simply click the upload button and follow the prompts. You’ll need to browse to your image and select it for uploading.

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If your image is to small you’ll see a message telling you so and asking you to select a different image. You can choose to ignore this message and continue with the selected image, but realize the quality of your case may suffer.

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Once you’ve got your image uploaded to the tool you be able to adjust the size and orientation. You can make it smaller or larger, rotate it in any direction and zoom in or out. A cutout like diagram of the case assists you in sizing and positioning the image. I’ve tried a few other web-based custom case tools and the Case-Mate one is top-notch. It was smooth and easy to use. I experienced no crashing and each button worked when I wanted it to.

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Once you’ve got your image just how you’d like it simply proceed through the check out process. The case will cost you $39.99, and you can expect it to ship within 3-5 days, which seems pretty fast for a 100% custom design.

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In a few short days your case will arrive. As I mentioned, the case Case-Mate uses is their Barely There case. I reviewed the Chrome version of this case back in September of 2009. It’s probably my most favorite of the “snap-on-back-cover” style cases for the iPhone 3G/3Gs.


Case-Mate includes a little goody bag with your case, which contains a crystal clear screen shield, cleaning cloth and install tool.


The Barely There offers a superb fit. Simply snap it onto the back of your iPhone by inserting the phone, button side first, into the case. The image, which has been applied to the back of the case, has sort of a matte finish to it. I prefer this over the glossy look other custom cases utilize. The semi-matte image just seems easier to see.


The Barely There is slim. It doesn’t offer much in the way of shock and impact protection, but what it does do is retain the iPhone’s slim and sleek profile by adding virtually zero bulk. The case has all the necessary cutouts you’d expect.


My wife used the DIY case for several days, and we noticed no scratching or fading of the image on the back of the case; it stills looks as new as the moment we pulled it from the box. Everything about the DIY program simply works, and I expected nothing less of Case-Mate. The company continues to impress me as one that strives to do the right thing. Their customer service philosophy is one that’s built on making every purchase quick, painless and satisfying. Using the DIY online tool is simple, and the fast turn around you experience with the DIY case makes the entire process a pleasure.

Don’t just take my word for it though, head to the DIY tool on the Case-Mate web site and get to creating a one of a kind, custom case of your very own.

M.S.R.P.: $39.99

What I like: Easy to use online tool, great fitting case, image is durable.

What Needs Improvement: Finding an image large enough can be challenging; it’s expensive for a snap on back cover (but it’s custom).

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Gear Diary Staff
Gear Diary was founded on September 30, 2006, with the goal to create a website that would not easily be labeled. Everyone who is part of Gear Diary is a professional who uses technology in their work and daily lives. On this site, we share our enthusiasm while exploring the gear we use — the equipment that makes our lives easier, more entertaining, more productive, and more manageable. Our hope is that Gear Diary visitors find this site to be a welcoming, friendly, and accessible place to learn about and discuss interesting topics — and not only those that are tech-related! Gear Diary is a place to discover and explore all kinds of new gear, including smartphones, computers, kitchen gadgets, Toys, EDC, camping gear, or even your next new car! You can follow us on Twitter @GearDiarySite.

4 Comments on "Case-Mate DIY Case for iPhone 3G/3Gs Review: Create Your Own Mastercase"

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