Repair cracked Incipio silicrylic iPhone 4 case with decal vinyl

When I first got my Incipio silicrylic case for my iPhone I could tell it wasn’t the strongest case around. I liked the soft cushion of the inside case, but the hard outside shell was pretty thin. After a while it started to crack at the corners, no matter how careful I tried to be.

I got it about 14 or 15 months ago and it has been looking pretty tattered. Not anxious to buy a new case I started looking for ways to repair it. Glue wouldn’t work because the material is so thin – it would just crack again. I thought of tape, but there were disadvantages to each kind I thought of:

  1. Duct tape: It’s too thick and would tend to grab if I were to put the phone in my pocket. If it started to peel up the adhesive would be sticky.
  2. Scotch tape: This would be thin enough but not strong enough. I knew it wouldn’t be long before it would split where the cracks are.
  3. Packing tape: Splits too easily, similar to scotch tape.
  4. Electrical tape: This seemed like it would be a good option because my case is black. The tape is thin enough with low friction. But, I have seen the adhesive of electrical tape soften up after a while. I wanted something similar but more likely to last.

Then I realized I had the answer: adhesive vinyl used for window decals and signs. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before since I had a roll of black vinyl (Oracal 651) sitting downstairs. Using a fairly small piece, I cut several strips with rounded corners (rounded to make them less likely to catch on something. These I applied over the cracks in the hard case. On the case corners I used smaller pieces so the vinyl wouldn’t bunch up as it followed the contour.  Here is the result:

I’ve been using it like this for several weeks and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. The black on black doesn’t show right away that it has been repaired. The adhesive on decal vinyl is strong and stays stable over time, even with temperature changes. No doubt I will eventually end up replacing this case, but I think I’ve given its useful life a long extension. Instead of feeling like it is coming apart, the case feels like it did when it was new.

UPDATE: It’s been about 4 months, and the case repairs are still holding up. The vinyl has not peeled up at all. The repairs I did were done with just a few square inches of material – maybe 3″x2″ that I cut my strips from. A sign shop might be willing to give scraps from their trash…if you ask nice and are respectful of their time.