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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Design a Custom Phone Case

Beginner's handbook

How to Design a Custom Phone Case

How to Design a Custom Phone Case
Nora Inveiss

By Nora Inveiss

10 min read

Did you know that Printful offers custom phone cases? You can add phone cases for the most recent iPhone and Samsung models to your online store (or order a custom phone case for yourself).

This blog post explains why you should consider adding phone cases to your store and how to design your custom phone case. It also covers different types of phone cases and how we print them at Printful. Let’s dive in!

The phone case market in 2024

Phone cases are a must-have for most smartphone owners today. The main drivers for buying one are constantly changing trends and the need to protect mobile phones from damage.

Ecommerce stores selling phone cases online have greatly contributed to (and benefitted from) the booming phone case market. Google Trends shows that the demand for phone cases has remained consistently high over the past 5 years. And with every new phone model released, there’s new demand for phone cases—great news for those selling custom phone cases online.

a graph on a white background

Source: Google Trends

A survey by NPD found that there are 5 main groups of people who buy phone cases:

  • Durability seekers—these people are looking for a solid, quality case that will protect their phone

  • Self-expressers—this group of people cares most about the aesthetics of the phone case

  • Budget fashion lovers —this group also cares about the case’s aesthetics, but they’re more sensitive to cost

  • Functionality-first users—this group is the least selective; they want a basic case to protect their phone, but they’re not particularly picky

  • Tech enthusiasts—these people are savvy and generally enthusiastic about all things tech

The motivations for buying phone cases are vastly different. Some people emphasize practicality or basic protection, while others are more interested in an eye-catching design representing their style, personality, and interests.

More high-fashion brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci are also delving into phone case designs, positioning phone cases as not only a practical tech accessory but also a fashion statement.

Read also: How to Start a Phone Case Business: From Idea to Profit

Through Printful, you can enter the phone case industry and sell custom phone cases with your original designs. Now let’s discuss the different phone cases and printing processes we offer, as well as some design ideas.

Tap into the phone case market with print-on-demand

Whether you’re planning to start a phone case brand or sell custom phone cases to expand your product collection, print-on-demand can ease the process. Your print-on-demand provider, such as Printful, will take care of your customer orders and shipping while you focus on making designs and running your custom phone case business.

This business model doesn’t require much upfront investment from you as a business owner. Unlike traditional retail models, you don’t need to hold inventory. This means you can experiment with different designs and products without financial risk.

Before diving in, it’s crucial to research your target market to understand how to position your phone case brand. Phone case businesses thrive not just by offering high-quality phone cases but by resonating with the needs and preferences of potential customers. You can focus on trendsetters looking for the latest designs or tech enthusiasts who prioritize durability. Understanding your target audience will shape every aspect of your business—from designs to marketing strategies.

When setting the retail price, look at competitor pricing to ensure you’re not underpricing or overpricing your phone cases. Don’t be afraid of setting a higher price point for premium designs catering to a specific niche.

Building a successful phone case brand also means leveraging online tools and platforms to sell phone cases online. Your online presence should be polished and professional, from your website to marketplaces and social media channels. High-quality visuals, engaging product descriptions, and seamless shopping experiences are crucial in attracting and retaining customers.

Lastly, always be prepared to adapt. The market for customized phone cases is dynamic, with trends and buyer preferences constantly evolving. Keep an eye on trending products, listen to customer feedback, and continuously refine your product range and marketing efforts.

a phone case and dice on a green notebook

Source: Printful

Printful’s phone case specs

As of now, Printful has phone cases designed for the following iPhone and Samsung models that are available to sell online in the US and Europe:

  • iPhone 7/8 

  • iPhone SE

  • iPhone X/XS

  • iPhone XR

  • iPhone 11

  • iPhone 11 Pro

  • iPhone 11 Pro Max

  • iPhone 12

  • iPhone 12 Mini

  • iPhone 12 Pro

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

  • iPhone 13

  • iPhone 13 Mini

  • iPhone 13 Pro

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max

  • iPhone 14

  • iPhone 14 Plus

  • iPhone 14 Pro

  • iPhone 14 Pro Max

  • iPhone 15

  • iPhone 15 Plus

  • iPhone 15 Pro

  • iPhone 15 Pro Max

  • Samsung Galaxy S10

  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S10+

  • Samsung Galaxy S10e

  • Samsung Galaxy S20

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

  • Samsung Galaxy S21

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

  • Samsung Galaxy S22

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

  • Samsung Galaxy S23

  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

  • Samsung Galaxy S24

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

We offer clear, tough, and snap cases for Samsung and iPhone. Whether more models are added will depend on the phone’s popularity and customer demand.

a group of phone cases

Source: Printful

Printful phone cases are made of hybrid thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and polycarbonate (PC) plastic.

They’re one-piece, have solid plastic construction, and the holes and buttons are aligned with the phone’s features. 

The transparent phone cases aren’t shock-proof. So, while they may protect your phone from some minor wear and tear, don’t count on them to be indestructible or to prevent serious damage. They’re meant mostly for aesthetic purposes.

What design do you think would look good on one?

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5 essential phone case design tips

Now that you know the phone case types Printful offers, let’s look at how they’re printed and how you can get the best design results.

Understand the printing process

The first step for every phone case order is approving the graphics—if the graphics match our guidelines, the order is sent to print.

Before printing, a trained operator ensures the printer has no lint or dust. Then, a white underbase and colored top coat are printed simultaneously using UV printing technology.

UV printing essentially dries ink through a photochemical reaction. High-intensity ultraviolet lights cure inks, turning them from liquid to solid. UV printing is commonly used to print on materials such as plastic, wood, and metal.

Once the phone cases are complete, they’re packaged in poly bubble-padded mailers and shipped out.

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Follow the print file guidelines

Follow the guidelines when creating your print files. If your print file doesn’t match our guidelines, there’s a good chance your phone case won’t turn out the way you want. These are our must-follow phone case guidelines:

1. Submit PNG or JPEG files with at least 300 DPI (dots per inch)

We recommend submitting your files in PNG or JPEG format. To ensure the design has a transparent background, submit your design in PNG. Remember, your artwork should be 2.93″ × 6.1″ with 300 DPI.

2. Set files to sRGB color profile

Make sure your print file is set to the sRGB color profile, sRGB IEC61966-2.1 to be exact. Most editing software has an sRGB color profile set as default.

3. Mind the safe print area

Keep all important graphic elements or text within the safe print area. This means that the most important elements of your graphic should be within the dotted line of a given template; anything outside the safety zone may be cut off.

4. Remember the camera and logo placement

Mind the case’s camera hole placement when creating your design. And if you’re designing a phone case that’s transparent or doesn’t have a background color, consider where the phone’s logo or text will appear.

5. Remove template guidelines

When using our templates, be sure to delete the guideline layers before exporting your files. If you don’t delete them, they will show up on the print.

Remove template guidelines

You can download our iPhone and Samsung case guidelines from the phone case product description pages under the File guidelines tab. Or, click here to download the zip file right now

To give your customers a better idea of what they’re buying, we advise you to create product mockups using Printful’s product templates. All you need to do is drop your design on the selected product, download generated images, and upload them to your online store.

Make use of transparent colors

Contrary to other Printful products, we can print semi-transparent colors on phone cases. However, there are some extra considerations if you opt for transparent colors.

1. Avoid printing elements that have both opaque and transparent elements

a close-up of a phone case

There’s a stark contrast between solid colors (which are printed with a white underbase) and transparent colors (without a white underbase). In some cases, the result may look like there are gaps in your design and that the colors didn’t print properly. It’s especially noticeable with white and lighter tones, so use extra caution with those colors. The best thing to do is to order samples to test how your graphics turn out.

2. Remember that transparent colors are not opaque

When editing transparent colors in Photoshop, it will refer to “opacity.” Transparency and opacity are the inverse of each other—100% transparent is 0% opaque, and vice versa. If you have a graphic and you want 25% transparency, on Photoshop, it’ll show up as 75% opacity.

Include clear spaces in your design

You don’t have to fill up the entire space with your design. Blank space in your print file will be clear, and you’ll be able to see the phone through the case.

If you’d like to create a graphic where parts of the custom phone case are clear, keep the phone logo, color, and text placement in mind. You’ll be able to see it, so it may affect the way your design looks.

Graphics don’t wrap around the entire phone case, so the sides will be see-through. This is great because it gives you a little bit of both worlds—you get to feature your awesome designs, but you don’t completely cover up the phone's design, either.

If you’re not sure—order samples

As always, we recommend ordering samples to ensure your custom phone cases come out the way you envisioned. You always want to see a product sample before adding it to your ecommerce website.

How to design a phone case with Printful’s Design Maker

If you’re unsure how to design a phone case, check out our Design Maker.

With this tool, you can design your own custom phone case in minutes. Create beautiful patterns, upload and adjust any of your photos, and get creative with clipart and Quick Designs. 

Here’s a step-by-step example of a phone case design we made.

1. Select a background color

Click Fill and find a color that matches the vibe you’re going for.

2. Explore different designs

We selected this editable Quick Design and chose a background that’d go well with the design. 

a screenshot of a phone

 Source: Printful

You can scale, delete, and change the colors and text of all Quick Designs. We deleted all graphic design elements except the artsy background for this personalized phone case. Cute pet clipart would look great here.

a screen shot of a phone case

Source: Printful

We found the perfect clipart and adjusted the background color to fit the design. It’s looking good already, but something’s missing . . .

a screen shot of a phone case

Source: Printful

3. Play around with the Text Tool

This kitty’s got to have a name! You can choose a text font and play around with the arc, outline, and shadow tools to add some playfulness. The paw clipart is the final touch, and this phone case is ready. 

a screenshot of a phone case

Source: Printful

4. Preview your design mockup

Another handy feature? Check what your phone case design will look like in real life under the Mockup tab.

a phone case with a design on it

Source: Printful

If you want to learn more about what the Design Maker can do, read our article on 10 Things You Didn’t Know Printful’s Design Maker Could Do.

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Time to design your own phone case

Phone cases are a popular accessory, and most smartphone owners will want one for protection, fashion, or a bit of both. With Printful, you can make your own phone cases with custom designs, sell them on your online store, or order a custom phone case for yourself. To test that your cases come out the way you want, use our guidelines and tips when creating your designs and order samples.

Read next: 30+ Unique and Creative Phone Case Design Ideas For Your Store


By Nora Inveiss on Mar 12, 2024

Nora Inveiss

Nora has been part of the Printful team since 2015. She has spent the last several years writing content, coordinating communications projects, and helping customers learn about ecommerce. Now as Printful's Brand Manager, she gets to use her experience and knowledge in new and challenging ways.

Nora has been part of the Printful team since 2015. She has spent the last several years writing content, coordinating communications projects, and helping customers learn about ecommerce. Now as Printful's Brand Manager, she gets to use her experience and knowledge in new and challenging ways.