Picture of $2.50 iPhone Bumper Case
I just got my iPhone 4.

When I picked it up the first time - I cringed.  It's very pretty - but with a glass screen and a glass back - it seems leaving the house without a case is a recipe for disaster.

Apple is of course sending me a free case - but I won't get it for another 2-4 weeks.

So - I came up with a simple homemade "bumper-style" case design.  

It's not beautiful - but it definitely offers decent protection for cheap!

This project should also offer relief to those affected by the "Antennagate" / "Grip of Death" reception issue.

I made this case for my iPhone 4 - but there's not reason they should work for any iPhone and even other smartphones.
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Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
This project requires:

An iPhone (or any other smart phone)

3M Temflex 2155 Rubber Splicing Tape
    -Is a "fusing" tape. It doesn't actually have adhesive - but bonds with itself!
   -Available at Lowes hardware for about $2.50 in the electrical section
   -Other "splicing" or "fusing" tape may also work

Silver Sharpie (optional)


Utility Knife

Step 2: Cut the tape

Picture of Cut the tape
Cut about 2-3 feet of the splicing tape with the scissors and remove the plastic liner.

Cut a longer length of tape for a thicker case (vice versa if you want a thinner one).

Step 3: Start wrapping

Picture of Start wrapping
Hold one end of the tape tightly against the phone with one hand.

Stretch the tape around the perimeter of the phone with the other.

Pull the tape tightly - it should stretch to about 150% its original length.

When you make it all the way around the phone - overlap the tape - it should bond with itself!

Step 4: Continue wrapping

Picture of Continue wrapping
Continue wrapping the tape around the phone - you should make it around about 3 times.

Push the end of the tape firmly against the phone so it sticks.

If you're not satisfied with the thickness - you can cut / apply another piece of tape.

Step 5: Mark where to cut holes

Picture of Mark where to cut holes
Use the silver sharpie to mark where you'll need to cut holes in the case.

For an iPhone - you'll need holes for:
-Power button
-Headphone jack
-Volume controls / vibrate (single hole)
-Charge connector / bottom speakers (single hole)

If you don't have a silver sharpie - you can use the knife to mark where to cut.

(It's not advised to try actually cutting the holes while the case is on the phone.  You may cut through and damage your device.)

Step 6: Remove the case

Picture of Remove the case
Gently peel the case off the phone.

Step 7: Cut the holes

Picture of Cut the holes
Use the utility knife to cut out the needed openings.

(Be careful - that blade's sharp!)

Try to cut the holes no bigger than actually needed.  Their size will expand when you put the case back on the phone.

If you cut them too small (or large) - you'll be able to address that later.

Step 8: Add "Safety Strips" (Optional)

Picture of Add
Want to protect your iPhone even a bit better than a bumper case would?

Then add these "Safety Strips" (tm)!

- Cut an additional segment of tape about 8 inches long
- Cut that strip lengthwise into thirds
- Wrap the first segment around the base of the phone - between the "home" button and the bottom of the screen
- Wrap the second segment above the top of the screen and below the phone speaker
- Do whatever you like with the third segment.

Step 9: Put the case back on

Picture of Put the case back on
Stretch the case back onto the phone.

Try to line up the openings as close as possible to their intended positions.

Step 10: Use scissors to trim / enlarge holes

Picture of Use scissors to trim / enlarge holes
Use the scissors to enlarge holes where needed, or trim up any excess tape.

Step 11: Touch up

Picture of Touch up
If you cut any of the openings too large - or left any exposed areas - you can touch them up by adding additional splicing tape.

Cut a few inch segment of tape - then cut it again length-wise - so it's half its original width.

Stretch the tape tightly over the section you'd like to touch up.

Step 12: Admire your new iPhone case!

Picture of Admire your new iPhone case!
Does anyone not think this looks better than brushed stainless steel?
Vissy4 years ago
3M makes a type we use at work as electricians, it has a fiber inside it, but otherwise the same as what you have. That may resist splitting. Theres also a silicone tape that fuses to itself, but I think it only comes in a light gray color.

The only downside is that it attracts dirt. I wiped a tiny bit of oil on a hammer I wrapped the tape in; its enough to fill in and kill the adhesive properties on the outer exposed layer, but not enough to make it come loose, unravel, or slip out of my hand when using it.
canida4 years ago
Hm, this has me thinking about a recycled bike innertube bumper...
Good idea... Maybe a larger diameter tube like for a small tractor wheel. Cut a closed section the width you want and stretch it around the phone. It would smell like an inner tube though, even a new one.