ReadyCase hands-on: A crowd-funded project comes to life

This multifunction iPhone case arrived six months late. Was it worth the wait?

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read
The ReadyCase comes with a removable flash drive that doubles as a kickstand.
The ReadyCase comes with a removable flash drive that doubles as a kickstand. ReadyCase

Way back in October 2012, I told you about the ReadyCase, an Indiegogo project for an iPhone case with seven handy built-in tools.

Because I was in the market for a new case for my 4S, I decided to fund it, even though it meant waiting until production began in February.

I ended up waiting quite a bit longer; various delays pushed the shipping date back and back, resulting in no small number of extremely angry backers (as evidenced by the comments on the project page). But a few days ago, my ReadyCase finally arrived. Was it worth the wait?

It's kind of a hot mess. The promise of the ReadyCase remains as tantalizing as ever: a built-in flash drive that doubles as a kickstand, a removable multitool, a metal ring for attaching various magnetic camera lenses, and a clip for holding your headphone cord. All this in a black plastic case that adds just 3mm of thickness to your iPhone 4/4S or iPhone 5.

I'll admit it took me a while to figure out the various components, like how the two removable pieces clip in and out, which way the flash-drive/kickstand gets inserted into its slots, and how the two included lenses somehow become the promised three. (Hint: the macro lens unscrews from the wide-angle lens.)

The iPhone 5 version of the ReadyCase. Too bad that clip does such a poor job holding the earbud cord.
The iPhone 5 version of the ReadyCase. Too bad that clip does such a poor job holding the earbud cord. ReadyCase

I tested the iPhone 4/4S version of the case, though my early-backer purchase entitled me to the iPhone 5 version as well -- nice to have in case I decide to upgrade (not likely). The latter has one extra slot for inserting the kickstand, which affords more viewing angles, but otherwise they're about the same.

The case itself feels no different than your average hard-plastic cover. It has the all-important raised edge on the front to help prevent broken glass after a fall, but I must admit the whole thing feels pretty flimsy -- like one hard encounter with cement would shatter it into pieces. On the other hand, the last thing I want is extra bulk, and there's barely any here.

The flash drive is cool. It's so thin it looks like a molded part of the backside of the case. But after you slide it out, you really have to snug its tapered edge into the kickstand slot to get it to stay put.

Speaking of which, the smooth, polished multitool comes loose way too easily -- probably because it's so smooth and polished. I've already popped it out by accident just because of the way I reached into my pocket for my phone. The "good" news is that except as a bottle opener, the tool is just about useless. The standard and serrated "blades" couldn't be much duller, and the flat-head screwdriver is too thick, rounded, and awkward for most screws. Maybe I'll find it helpful at some point -- assuming I don't lose it first.

I like the included lenses, if only because they snap on and off so easily, but as with other add-on lenses, they're not exactly convenient to carry around. As for the headphone clip, it's an outright fail: some cords are too thick to fit, others (like the stock Apple earbuds) simply don't stay in.

Ultimately, I think the ReadyCase idea is better than the ReadyCase execution. If you order one today, it'll cost you $45 with a 4GB flash drive (the 8GB sticks are sold out for the time being), with lenses adding an extra $25. Much as I value a case with a kickstand, I rarely need a flash drive these days, and most bottles have twist-off tops. So my search for the ultimate case continues.