How Apple keeps crappy cases off its shelves

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Apple won't just let any iPhone or iPad case in its retail stores.
Photo: Apple

Apple put up a new page on its website detailing the qualifications that third-party iPhone and iPad accessory makers must meet before the company will start selling those products in retail stores or online in the Apple Store. It’s not exactly the easiest process to meet Apple’s high quality standards. In fact, Apple now touts that these cases are “tested to the limit” before they make it on store shelves.

“Each case design for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch has to go through a series of tests before it reaches the Apple Store. So you can be sure the case you buy is a perfect match for your iOS device,” Apple boasts on the web page.

The series of tests conveniently fall into five categories that Apple outlines: design, camera, acoustics, sensors and cellular and wireless. The design of the case must fit the corresponding device well enough without inappropriately covering up buttons or ports, plus drop tests ensure its durability.

The hole surrounding the camera of the device can’t degrade camera quality or hinder the LED flash’s ability to work normally. Additionally, the case can’t cover the speakers or diminish sound quality. Sensors like ambient light and Touch ID must work properly as well, case on or off.

Lastly, of course, Apple requires that cases don’t obstruct cellular or wireless signals coming to and from your device. That includes Apple Pay. Good thing that in certain cases (literally and figuratively) these accessories improve the signal. Remember antennagate?

After the case boot camp, Apple can approve it and sell the case within its stores. Considering Apple has started paying closer attention to even third-party packaging, it’s clear the folks in Cupertino don’t play around with this stuff.

Then again, it’s also pretty likely that manufacturers put the cases through much of the same tests for quality control since a case that blocks sound probably wouldn’t sell well.