LAS VEGAS -- As usual, the accessory makers are out in force at CES and there are literally thousands of cases for iPhones and other phones on the show floor.
Here's a look at some of the more intriguing and eye-catching cases for the iPhone 5 and 5S that are making their debuts at CES or have started shipping in the last few weeks. As we spot more new cases, we'll add them to the roundup.
Most solar charging cases are pretty bulky, but the new EnerPlex Surfr ($100) is more trimmed down than most. It has a built-in 2,000mAh battery that should come close to doubling the battery life of your iPhone and it can also trickle-charge via the solar panel on the back (it's a slow process -- an hour in direct sunlight gives you about 10 minutes of talk time).
For those of you who've always wanted to turn your iPhone into a thermal imaging camera, the Flir One should pique your interest.
It allows you to see heat signatures from either people, animals or from environmental sources from up to 100 meters away in total darkness and smoke. It will also detect moisture and heat loss in your home.
A built-in battery gives you 2 hours of continual use and that battery can also charge your phone if you're running low on juice (it will charge the iPhone 5/5S about 50 percent).
When it ships this spring (for around $350), you'll be able to download a free app Flir One MX app, which lets you collect and share images you capture. A version for select Android phones (we assume that includes the Samsung Galaxy S4) is also due to arrive later this year.
Here's a case that many mobile business owners may be interested in adding to their iPhone 5/5S: Griffin's Merchant case, the "first protective case optimized for a Square Reader."
The $19.99 Merchant Case + Square Reader is due to ship in the next two weeks and works with Square Register, the free point-of-sale app that lets you accept credit card payments via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
One key feature of the new case is that it has a compartment on the back for storing the detachable Square Reader when you're not using it. Griffin also notes that the case is custom-molded to secure the Square Reader when connected and a groove in the bottom is supposed to make it easier to swipe credit cards consistently.
The Merchant case debut coincides with Square's launch of Works with Square, a program that allows developers to build accessories for Square businesses.
Italian company Puro was showing of its spring collection of Just Cavalli cases (it has a licensing deal). This one will be available in Just Cavalli's boutiques in the US and online for around $30 to $35, company reps said.
In the next couple of months MarBlue, the company formerly known as Marware, will ship its waterproof case, the DrySuit Convertible. What's interesting about it is that you can convert it into a standard case by popping off the front cover when you don't need waterproofing and don't want a screen protector between your fingers and the screen. Reps said this case will cost $69.99.
Oakley wasn't at the show (that I saw), but I did spot this case on a phone. It's one of the better tough cases I've seen (supposedly it came out recently but I couldn't find it on Oakley's site or anywhere else). What's cool about it is that it's easy to slide your phone in and out of the case thanks to the latch mechanism.
Skech had a few new cases in its booth, including the Groove, which looks similar to the Speck CandyShell Inked (next slide), and the Glow, which has a soft-to-the-touch finish that makes the case feel nice in hand. Both will be available in multiple color options when they ship in the next few weeks.
Lunatik makes some very tough -- but very bulky -- iPhone cases. Now the company's come out with the Flak, a slick looking, relatively compact slider case (the top comes off). Available in a few different glossy colored finishes. Cost: $34.95.