NEW YORK — Think of the reasons you dress up your smartphone in a case: Fashion. Protection. Utility of another sort — extra battery, perhaps, or wallet-like features.
Two accessory makers have just introduced cases with a fresh purpose: iLuv Creative Technology claims its $49.99 Selfy case for Samsung Galaxy devices and iPhone 5 and 5s is the first with a wireless remote shutter button for controlling the camera to capture better selfies.
Meanwhile, Speck's $44.95 CandyShell AMPED for iPhone 5 and 5s amplifies the sound coming out of the phone without cables, extra speakers or the need to draw power.
I've been checking both out on my iPhone. A closer look:
• The Selfy. There's spontaneity to the self-portraits we know of as selfies because of how easy it is to snap these (sometimes obnoxious) pictures. ILuv is banking on the fact that you'll want to get more creative with your mug shots by placing the phone down somewhere at a distance and using the remote-control shutter to shoot. Doing so probably also increases the prospect of getting a decent group selfie.
The 3½-inch tall remote is snugly stored in a slot on the back of the case, so you're unlikely to lose it. It pairs to your iPhone or Galaxy via Bluetooth. When you're ready to use the remote you just slide it out. ILuv's pitch is that you always have this thing with you.
No separate app is required, but you do have to manually launch the camera app on the phone, choose either the front or rear camera and whether you want to take a photo or grab video. At that point you press the single button on the remote to take the pic or start capturing video.
The bottom of the case — the portion that remains on the phone after you slide out the remote — is wide enough that you can stand the phone vertically on a flat service. You cannot stand the phone horizontally.
In my tests there was no lag between the time I pressed the remote button and the time the shutter fired. The case does add a bit of heft to the iPhone, but then again so does the Mophie case I use to bolster the phone's battery.
ILuv is planning a whole ecosystem around the Selfy. Coming in the next couple of weeks are variety of potentially useful $19.99 to $24.99 accessories that fit into the vacant slot on the case after you've slid out the remote. These include a mini-tripod, bike mount, suction cup car mount and helmet mount. I didn't get to try any.
Selfy relies on a standard watch battery, which iLuv says should last three months to two years, depending on how many selfies you take. You must unscrew a single screw to replace the battery.
The plain-looking case comes in black or pink. I didn't drop the phone, but the case feels durable.
Incidentally, if you press the remote without having opened the camera app, the volume button ticks up on the phone, at least until maximum loudness is reached. You can't decrease the volume remotely.
• CandyShell AMPED: This case is all about getting loud, more than doubling the volume on the iPhone speaker. Speck says this is accomplished through technology developed by a company called Fish Innovation that channels and amplifies the sound waves from the phone's speaker through a horn-shaped cavity that's 12 inches deep. It manages to do this without distortion.
While I suppose such a case might appeal to anyone who suffers from hearing loss, this is as much about sharing audio with others. Keep in mind that what it is being amplified is anything coming out of the main iPhone speaker. That means on a phone call you'd have to be listening in speaker mode, as opposed to having the handset held up to your ear. Sound is also amplified when you're watching a video or listening to, say, a radio app.
I tried it while driving and was able to make out the voice giving turn-by-turn directions inside the Maps app, even with the car radio blaring. I had equally good results using the speakerphone while I was out walking the dog.
Speck says the hard 1.24-ounce case meets military-grade protection standards. I was able to scuff it up a tad. It comes in black, blue or pink.
Both cases deliver on their missions. But I want a case that does it all. Looks great. Adds power. Protects the device from the elements and more, without lopping on too much weight. For now that is too much to ask.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow @edbaig on Twitter
THE BOTTOM LINE
Pro. Wireless slide-out remote lets you take pictures or capture videos. Compatible with accessories.
Con. Adds bit of heft to phone and isn't the most attractive case in the world. You must manually fire up camera app.
Speck CandyShell AMPED
Pro. Light, protective case amplifies volume on iPhone, without cables, extra speakers or wires. No distortion.
Con. Only works on two iPhone models. Doesn't amplify sound on calls held up to your ear.