We all use our smartphones outside but one of the most annoying problems when doing this can be the sun’s bright light overpowering the measly LEDs of our devices. The Shady Smart was created to solve this issue by creating a physical barrier around the phone, protecting it from the sun’s glare, bright light, and even prying eyes. The company has created two cases, Series A and Series B which, together, service a large variety of phones including all iPhones (regular and plus size), Galaxy phones, and other similar sized phones. The company does note that slim cases will work with the Shady Smart but thick cases can block the phone from fitting and our testing revealed the same. Most cases we had were able to fit into the pocket and we found no real compatibility issues.

In terms of looks, we felt that the Shady Smart looked a bit dorky. It has a large wall that opens up on the top of the phone that becomes vertical and flaps that stretch from the top wall to the bottom edges of the phone. It sounds a bit complex but if you see a picture of the case in action, you’ll see what we mean. Another way to imagine it is like a classic arcade machine with a really long backing and slanted edges running down towards you.

While the look might be unusual, it definitely makes the case functional. When we tested the case using a smartphone on a cloudless, 90˚F day, the Shady Smart was effectively able to block the sun as long as the light was coming from either side or in front of us. It offers no protection if the sun is behind you, since the bottom edge of the phone needs to be unblocked so that you can see the screen. The material is thick which means no sun is able to penetrate and black interior color means that there is no reflection from the phone’s screen on the inside of the fabric. Shady smart has also designed the case to be foldable which allows it to fold into a small profile when portability is desired like when storing your device in your pocket.

The Shady Smart does its job almost too well as it ends up blocking things a bit too much. The side volume and power buttons become almost unusable since the soft material cushions them. Unless you press extremely hard the phone won’t register your input. You can always take the phone out of the case but with repetitive use, like with a side power button, the Shady Smart just adds to your problems rather than solving them. This solution won’t work with headphones, however. We found that the case covers up all of your phone and makes using headphones impossible meaning that you can’t listen to your favorite Spotify playlist while sunbathing. This can be a big problem for you audiophiles out there who love to listen to music wherever you are. Additionally, the case just felt really awkward to hold since you had to devote a whole hand to hold the case from the underside which just left one to type, text, and use the phone causing a very limiting experience.

Conclusion (tl;dr): The Shady Smart definitely solves a unique problem that we all face but not very well. Its awkward look can make it a huge turn-off to some and its restrictive design severely limits the functionality of your phone by blocking the use of exterior buttons, headphone jacks, and other ports on your phone. The design of the case also makes it extremely limiting when holding the device since using two hands is nearly impossible and dedicating a hand to holding the phone makes it hard to type and touch effectively. Whether the Shady Smart is worth using or not is for you to decide, but in our opinion, it ends up causing more problems than it solves.

Get the Shady Smart Here ($19.99)