Apparently, there is a trend among the wealthy to show off their fortune without the braggadocio and extravagance. And the latest way to pull off “quiet luxury,” “stealth wealth,” or whatever you call this trend is to take your smartphone off its protective case. Because nothing says “I’m rich” like risking a shattered screen.

If you didn’t know or couldn’t be bothered to care about this concept before, stealth wealth refers to keeping one’s wealth a secret as opposed to flaunting it. This idea has been lingering in the public consciousness for decades. An article from The New Statesman in 2000 observed how conspicuous consumption and extravagant displays of affluence were being replaced by subtlety, exclusivity, and the pursuit of personal gratification.

Fast forward to 2023, quiet luxury is experiencing renewed interest. TikTok videos dedicated on the concept have accumulated hundreds of millions of views so far. Characters in recent popular TV shows such as Succession, The White Lotus and The Row can be seen donning low-key, albeit ridiculously expensive, clothing items.


Time Magazine’s Cady Lang points out the evidence can be found in real life too. She mentions the fashion choices of actress Gwyneth Paltrow when the latter appeared in the courtroom over a 2016 ski collision case. Lang also cites tech moguls like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos being spotted or photographed with their naked iPhones and enjoying the aesthetic pleasure of going caseless.

While us common people cling to our protective cases to safeguard our phones, add functionality, and protect their resale value, among other reasons, the ultra-rich apparently couldn’t care less. To them, iPhones and the high-end handsets that go for more than $1,000 but small change and are easily replaceable. The cost of repairing or replacing a shattered screen is just a drop in the bucket.

So, go ahead, folks, toss away your protective cases if you want to jump on the stealth wealth bandwagon. But if societal pressures and external validation don’t matter much to you, then do whatever feels right when it comes to your phone, whether it’s with a case or without.

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