In recent years, the once insignificant phone case has become more than a hideous leatherette pouch with a clear plastic window and a belt clip. Now, cases are expected to do things; at the very least, hold a credit card or charge your phone. Jorge Fernandes, one of the minds that launched Apple Pay (along with a group of experienced pros), has created the i-Blades Smartcase, which could expand what we all expect from a smartphone case. It’s up now on Indiegogo.
A modular phone expansion system in the incognito form of a thin leather (“Italian”) or polycarbonate (“Elite”) case, the i-Blades team promises that the Smartcase admits all headphone attachments; a nice assurance for audiophiles. The case itself is welcome protection, but it’s the snap-on attachment system for the “Smartblades” that set the case apart.
Blades are essentially individual feature expansions. Each blade offers its own separate function. The current memory blades offer 64GB or a full terabyte of instant memory (nothing in between at the moment). The battery blade comes in a 2600mAh model now, with more to come after launch.
The blades attach to the back of the case using magnets and a circular copper contact array. The copper array forms a hard wire high-speed data connection using the case’s built-in MCU. The case interfaces with the phone via the charging port. The i-Blades app that comes with the smartcase lets you manage the attachments.
Just taking this in at a glance one might assume it’s a one-module-at-a-time setup. Luckily that’s not the case (pun intended). The modules are stackable, so you won’t have to choose between battery power and, well, anything else.
The attractiveness of the i-Blades system is its slim design and modular attachments; it’s easy to take what you need or leave what you don’t. The battery i-Blade alone makes bulkier, heavier battery cases seem silly by comparison. The memory blade is a relatively unique option to have when most of us are used to shrunken portable drives or comic-character memory sticks. The Smartblades vary in thickness from 2mm to 9mm, and are composed of chrome and brushed aluminum, so they don’t look like cheap plastic blocks on the back of your expensive phone.
At the launch, i-Blades will only be available for Samsung Galaxy 6 and 4. Oddly enough — considering the name — iPhone cases are still on the “coming soon” list.
The Indiegogo goal is $30,000. If you just want to grab a case and wait for the blades to come out next year, you can snatch an Elite for $50 via the campaign. If, like us, you think the point of the Smartcase is the removable Blades, then $100 gets an Elite case and a Battery Blade, $110 gets an Elite case and a Memory Blade, and$125 gets you the Elite case and both blades. The first orders should ship in May 2016.