Minimalist iPhone protectors don’t cut corners — they cover them

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So small, you almost can't see them. Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Bumpies are so small, you almost can't see them. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Bumpies border upon the nonexistent, and that’s why they are better than most other iPhone cases. Not that you could really count Bumpies as a case: They’re little stick-on corners that protect your iPhone’s extremities, and do it almost invisibly.

The metal ring for my Lensbaby still works, too.
The metal ring for my Lensbaby works with Bumpies installed.

Previously on Cult of Mac, we tested the Bezl, a set of four corners that do much the same as these new Bumpies, only they are — in comparison anyway — huge. Next to the Bumpies, Bezl looks like the iPhone 3G next to the iPhone 5 –- fat, rounded and old-fashioned.

Not that the Bezl case is bad. It’s just that the Bumpies are so much better.

Bumpies stick onto the corners of the iPhone 5/s and protect the phone from impact on those four delicate spots. The also extend around the front and back of the iPhone, wrapping the bezel just enough to stop the screen or rear panel from touching any surface you might lay the phone on.

The clever packaging
Plus: clever packaging!

I love this last part. I go caseless, but I hate laying my iPhone down on rough or dirty surfaces. Now, with the Bumpies, I can drop my iPhone 5 facedown on the kitchen table and not worry about getting honey or Marmite on the screen.

Fitting the Bumpies is also a better experience than the Bezl. As a reviewer, I am contractually bound never to read instructions until after something goes seriously wrong. With the Bumpies, you can’t go wrong. The packaging doubles as a template to guide the corners into their perfect spot. After opening the box, you clean your corners with the included alcohol swab, then slide the iPhone into the outer cardboard sleeve. The sleeve has cutouts at the corners, and you just line the Bumpies up with the gaps and press. After four goes, you’re done.

The box is also 100 percent recyclable, which is good as there’s a lot of cardboard in there. Even the ink is friendly, made from soy, and Bumpies’ Victor Chung tells me that the packaging alone took five months to get right.

Finally, the Bumpies win in one other area — accessories. You can’t use anything that requires a case, or that hugs the whole iPhone close, but the Bumpies are small enough that they don’t get in the way of dock accessories. I have a Bluelounge MiniDock that wouldn’t work with the Bezl, but is just fine with the Bumpies. Ditto the Samson Lighting mic I should use for Cult of Mac podcasts so I don’t sound like I’m calling in from a toilet cubicle.

The biggest recommendation I can make for the Bumpies is that i don’t want to take them off. I have to, eventually, because I need to review other iPhone cases and accessories that need to hug the entire iPhone. But I’ve put off a few case reviews this week already because I like the Bumpies so much. They’re so tiny that I almost never notice them, and yet so useful I’m always happy they’re there.

Also available for iPhone 4/s, and for the iPhone 6 when available. Recommended.

bumpies-4Bumpies by Bumpies ($24 list)
The good: So minimal they disappear, yet so smart they perform most of the function of a regular case.
The bad: Once they’re on, they’re on.
The verdict: My favorite minimalist iPhone “case,” from packaging to product.
Buy from Bumpies