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Beginner's handbook

How to Design a Custom Phone Case

By Reading Time: 5 minutes

Did you know that Printful offers custom phone cases? It means you can add cases for the most recent iPhone and Samsung models to your store (or print a one-off case for yourself!).

This blog post goes over why you should consider adding phone cases to your store, and it explains how to design a custom phone case. It also covers details about the cases themselves and how they’re printed.

Popular smartphone accessory

As smartphone sales grow and new innovations come to market, phone case sales will also grow. And according to a survey conducted by Statista in 2017, 79% of smartphone owners have a case for their phone.

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

  • Durable protection – these people are looking for a solid, quality case that will protect their phone
  • Fashion and style – this group of people places the utmost importance on the aesthetics of the case
  • Practical fashion – this group also cares about the case’s aesthetics, but they’re more sensitive to cost
  • Basic protection – this group is the least selective; they want a functional case to protect their phone, but they’re not particularly picky
  • Tech enthusiasts – these people are savvy and generally enthusiastic about all things tech

Phone cases are a popular must-have for many smartphone owners. The motivations for buying cases are vastly different – some people emphasize the practicality and protection, while others are more interested in a case that represents their personal style.

More high-fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton are delving into phone case designs, positioning phone cases as not only a practical tech accessory, but also a fashion statement. With a case, your phone can be easily customized and used to express your personality.

Through Printful, you can enter the phone case market and create phone cases with your own designs. The next section of this post covers details about Printful’s phone cases and printing process, and includes tips to create graphics.

Printful’s phone case specs

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

  • iPhone 6/6s
  • iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus
  • iPhone 7/8
  • iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus
  • iPhone X/XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  • Samsung Galaxy S8/9
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+/9+

Whether more models are added will depend on the phone’s popularity and customer demand.

Printful offers cases that are thin, light, and made of a hybrid Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) and Polycarbonate (PC) plastic.

They don’t cover the screen, but they’ll protect the back of the phone from scratches. They’re one-piece, solid plastic construction, and the holes and buttons are aligned with the phone’s features.

It’s important to note that these 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 damages. They are meant mostly for aesthetic purposes.

How are cases printed?

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 makes sure the printer doesn’t have any lint or dust. A white underbase and colored top coat are then printed simultaneously using UV printing technology. Once the cases are complete, they’re packaged in poly bubble padded mailers and shipped out.

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

Make use of transparent colors

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

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

This is because the contrast of solid colors (which are printed with a white underbase) and transparent colors (without a white underbase) is stark. In some cases the end result may look like there are gaps in your design and that colors didn’t print properly. This is 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.

3. If you’re not sure – order samples

As always, we recommend ordering samples to make sure the cases come out the way you envisioned. You always want to see a sample of your product before putting it on the market.

Transparent background and sides

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 case are clear, then 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.

Notice that graphics don’t wrap around the entire case, so the sides will also 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 design of the phone, either.

Follow print file guidelines

Be sure to follow the guidelines when creating your print files. A print file that doesn’t match our guidelines might not turn out the way you want. These are our must-follow phone case guidelines:

1. Submit PNG or PSD files

We recommend submitting your files in PNG or PSD format. Remember, that your artwork should measure 2.93”x6.1” with 300 DPI.

2. Set files to RGB color space

Make sure your print file is set to the RGB color space.

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

Keep the placement of the case’s camera hole in mind with your design. And if you’re designing a case that’s transparent or doesn’t have a background color, then consider where the phone’s logo or text will appear.

You can download our iPhone and Samsung case guidelines here. You can also check out our Design Services if you’d like more hands-on help getting your graphics and print files just right.

If you want to give your customers a better idea of what they’re buying, we advise you to create product mockups using Printful’s product designer tool (mockup generator). All you need to do is drop your design on the selected product, download generated images and upload them to your store.

Time to design your own phone case

Phone cases are a popular accessory and most smartphone owners will want one, either for protection, fashion or a bit of both. With Printful, you can offer phone cases with your custom designs, or create a one-off case for yourself. And don’t forget to use our guidelines and tips when creating your designs, and order samples to test that your cases come out the way you want.

This article was originally published in April 2016; it has since been updated.

Nora covers all things ecommerce for the Printful blog. She appreciates good dad jokes, new books, freshly baked cookies, and evening jogs.

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  1. Norton Support

    Really this is great information to know how to design a custom mobile case properly, keep updating this kind of information with us it’s really very helpful to know this topic for most of the people

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