They say never judge a book by a cover, but every day, on commuter trains and in bars around the world, millions of people make snap decisions
Indeed, a phone case is so much more than simply a means of protecting your pride and joy from the wind, rain and accidental spills. Above all, it's a fashion statement, advertising to the outside world what kind of person you are, what job you have, how much interest you have in technology and, like it or not, how much money you are likely to have in your bank account.
Choosing the right phone case is, therefore, just as important as choosing the right handset. After all, you wouldn't carry an iPad round in a Tesco bag, so why pay good money for the latest phone without properly accessorising it.
First of all, however, you should ask yourself: what look do I want to give across to other people? Do I want to be seen as a tech expert, a designer label aficionado or an everyday Joe Bloggs?
So, what does your phone case say about you?
The Designer Case
Despite what you might think, a designer smartphone case is not simply a status symbol or a means for the fashion conscious to appear on-trend. Encasing your iPhone or fancy Android in a smart Ted Baker number is also a good means of showing that you like to take care of your possessions and don't cut corners when it comes to keeping your handset in top shape.
Of course, designer cases are also a good way of standing out from the crowd and winning approving looks, whether it's on the Tube or in the office. From an Italian distressed leather case through to a smart chrome offering, paying that little bit extra can help ensure your pride and joy is well-protected while at the same time giving you some extra street cred.
The Sporty Case
However much love and attention you lavish on your phone, it's bound to get knocked around at least a little bit. If you're a sporty, adventurous type, then, chances are, your handset will be in for quite a battering, meaning you'll need protection.
Thankfully, there's just the case for you, whether you're a surfer, a climber or just a regular park-goer. Not only do specialist sports cases protect your handset from both the elements and a little rough and tumble, they also help portray you as an active soul, injecting a sense of danger into your persona.
But just as with skater shoes and surfer hoodies, you don't actually have to do any exercise to enjoy the kudos that comes from having a sporty phone case. Wrap your iPhone 5 in a special Quiksilver Canvas Folio case and your colleagues will automatically assume you spend your weekends chasing waves or hurling yourself down mountains, even if nothing could be further from the truth.
The Hi-Tech Case
Gone are the days when tech-obsessed men and women were mocked in playgrounds and workplaces. These days, it's all about 'geek chic', with a love of Star Trek, comics and the latest gadgets only to be admired.
Just as with the sporty look, it's easy to enjoy the kudos that comes with being on-trend, even if you don't know the first thing about technology. Kit your handset out in a frosted SlimSkin case, for example, and you could well be mistaken for a computing genius. As if that's not enough, the latest cases are also extra lightweight, offer all the protection you need and are designed to allow the handset to be used as efficiently as possible.
For extra geek-chic points, try kitting your phone out with a case that includes an extra battery. While you may well need the additional power to fuel your Candy Crush addiction, to the casual observer, you'll be the IT wizard or start-up billionaire who simply can't afford to stay disconnected for a minute.
The Quirky Look
Want to show off your love of animals? Fancy adding a couple of Playboy bunny ears to your handset? Or how about openly declaring your allegiance to a certain football team?
With novelty smartphone cases there really is no limit to the ways you can present yourself. And if you really want to stand out from the crowd, a quality personalised case with your own favourite photo or design can ensure you turn heads and show off your own unique passions to the world.