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The Kardashian-Approved Phone Case for Ultimate Selfie Lighting

Lumee wants to light you for the gods.

If you’ve been watching Keeping up with the Kardashians this season, you may have noticed that Kim, Kris, and Khloe all have new phone cases. Specifically, ones that get held logo-out every time they Facetime, while a frame of LED panels bathes their faces in flattering light. Or maybe you’ve been to Kim’s Instagram and noticed she’s plugging the phone case there (so casually that Hillary Clinton — after taking a selfie with Kim and Kanye back in August — completely missed that it’s an endorsement deal and mentioned how amazing the case is on Ellen).

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It’s called a Lumee, and for about $55, any of us mortals can strap it onto our Apple or Samsung devices and start looking better in selfies. As a scientist and aspiring Kardashian family member, I got my hands on a rose gold one and lived a Lumee lifestyle for two weeks to see what the deal was. Here are my findings:

Lumee pros:

  • You’re lit for the gods. Your coworkers may not notice how good your brows look today, but the Lumee sure as hell will. The Lumee loves makeup, glam, and stark contrast, so if you’re trying to document every square inch of your face, there’s finally a tool in your arsenal that’s easy to carry around.

  • Image: Christine Friar

  • There are different light intensities for different occasions. When you first turn the Lumee on, its brightest setting might freak you out. It’s… quite bright. But in low light, that setting is exactly what you need to make facial features visible. In the meantime, if you need gentler light, you can use the button on the back of the case to dim the LED strips until they’re where you need them.

  • It’s so, so easy to use. This thing could not be more straightforward. You do not need to read the instructions. It comes with a USB charger that you can plug into all of your usual USB hotspots. It has a single button on the back of the device that serves as both a power button and a dimmer remote. The button is ergonomically-placed right where your hand lands anyway while you're taking a selfie. I know gross products are bragging to you all day long about how intuitive they are to use, but the Lumee is seriously very intuitive to use.

  • Selfies about to be LIT! Today on my app I talk about the perfect selfie lighting! The secret to my selfies

    A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

  • It’s a really good flashlight. The iPhone has a flashlight feature, but it’s hidden behind a couple swipes and taps that can be difficult to execute when you’re in the dark and in a hurry. The Lumee’s single button makes using it as a flashlight like second nature. I dropped my ring on the ground during the previews at a Star Wars screening and found it three seconds later. Thanks, Lumee!

  • You’re a hit at parties. People. love. to. interact. with. the. Lumee. It’s a little bulkier than your average phone case, so the first question is usually, "What’s the deal with that case?" But once you tell them it’s a custom lighting system designed to take flattering selfies, all bets are off. People want to try it for themselves and leave hot photos on your camera roll.

    Image: Christine Friar

Lumee cons:

  • You’re lit for the gods. Remember that pro from a minute ago? It can be a con too. Sometimes, dull, indoor light can be a forgiving thing. The shitty, yellow lightbulb in your elevator doesn’t care about the bags under your eyes, but the Lumee certainly does. So if you’re in full glam and excited to show the world your new haircut, Lumee light can be flattering, but if you’re running errands and just trying to crank out a serviceable selfie, the pics can end up looking like a Terry Richardson rendering of your greatest facial insecurities.

    Image: Lumee

  • AUX cords can be trouble. This is entirely dependent on the design of your AUX cord, but if you’re using a cheap one, it might not plug into your phone because your Lumee is in the way. My nice, noise-canceling headphones have an AUX jack that’s designed to work with bulkier phone cases, so plugging them into my phone with the Lumee was never a problem. But the crappy AUX cord I got off Amazon to play music on my stereo at home was not designed with cell phone cases in mind, so when I go to plug it in, it gets caught on the lip of the case and doesn’t insert fully. Basically, depending on what your AUX situation is, you might need to remove the case or pop a corner off in order to play your music, and while I’m not a regular car-driver, I imagine this would be a very big hassle for that kind of Lumee lifestyle.

  • It’s bulky and hard to get on/off. I’m sure in Lumee’s dreams this is never an issue because you just put the case on once and then never take it off, but realistically you probably only want to use this thing some of the time. Because the lights flank the entire perimeter of your phone, the case itself is pretty stiff and tough to bend, which means that getting it onto or off of your phone can be a struggle.

  • It definitely draws attention to you when you use it in public. I am at peace with the fact that I’m a garbagecan millennial, so activating a rectangle of very bright LED light in front of my face in public wasn’t much of a bummer for me, but I imagine it might be slightly mortifying for someone more bashful. If you’re the kind of person who worries about how many times they tweet a day, or feels guilt at having watched three episodes of Making a Murderer in a row, using this thing might be a little embarrassing.

    Image: Christine Friar

Overall I think the Lumee is great. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s $55-serious about the quality of their selfie or Facetime aesthetic. Is it as pertinent to my lifestyle as it is to, say, Kim’s? No. But it’s super fun to use and produces cool photos. And honestly, what more could we ask of it?

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