The Best iPhone Cases for Protection in 2021

iPhones are pretty durable, but dropping yours from a high point or onto its screen could lead to a costly repair or replacement — and with the latest iPhones coming in at around $1,000, it’s safe to say replacing your device could hurt your bank balance.

Rather than risk damage to your phone, why not take some preemptive action and select a case that will keep your iPhone safe? While some cases are purely aesthetically pleasing, others are designed to be durable, protecting your phone from dents, scratches, and cracks. We’ve selected some of the best cases around if you’re looking for superior protection for your iPhone — and they’re available in a large range of designs and types.

Best protective iPhone cases at a glance

Best rugged cases

It’s what you’re here for. While all of the cases in this round-up are strong, these are the strongest, most rugged cases around and the best choice if you expect your phone to take a tumble.

Otterbox Commuter Series Case

Otterbox Commuter Series Case for iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

Many people consider Otterbox to be the gold standard when it comes to rugged protection for your iPhone, and the Commuter Series is one of the best it offers. This case boasts a layered design with a durable synthetic rubber slipcover surrounded by a polycarbonate shell with clean lines that enhance grip. This enables it to provide three times as much drop protection as the MIL-STD-810G 516.6 military standard, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a more durable case. There’s also a silver-based antimicrobial coating that will reduce bacteria growth, helping to keep your phone and your hands clean (although it won’t reduce bacteria growth on the iPhone’s screen). The Commuter Series comes in blue, black, pink, and bluish green (“Ocean Way”).

Scooch Wingman Tuxedo Case

What’s a better rugged case than the one you’re less likely to drop? Scooch’s Wingman isn’t just a protective case that meets military protection standards, it also comes with Scooch’s unique kickstand. When folded, it sits flush with the case’s back, but when it’s unfurled, it can be used as a kickstand, a finger grip, and even as a car vent mount. This level of utility isn’t common in rugged cases, and it’s great to see a company try something so different. It’s an attractive enough case, too, and we’ve picked the Tuxedo variant — so named for the black and white style — but there are several other options available.

Urban Armor Gear Monarch Case

Rugged protection doesn’t always have to look tough, but no one dares to tell Urban Armor Gear that. UAG’s cases look like something a space marine would use, and there’s no doubt from looking at the Monarch case that it’s tough. It’s made with five layers of protection, including rubber feet that stop your iPhone from slipping from surfaces and airbags in each corner to dull the shocks from impacts and drops. While the outer frame may look like metal, it’s actually a lightweight plastic made to look like metal. But that little deception doesn’t reduce the protection, and UAG claims the Monarch case can withstand drops of 8 feet up to 26 times with no damage — and it comes with a 10-year limited warranty if it doesn’t perform to standard.

Speck Presidio2 Grip Case

One of our favorite iPhone cases by any measure, the Speck Presidio2 Grip also is pretty rugged. Speck claims it can withstand drops up to 13 feet and it’s capable of handling falls and bumps thanks to Armor Cloud technology that works like an airbag to absorb shock and protect your phone. A soft-touch finish enables the case to resist scratches, while the raised rubber ridges on top of the case provide additional grip (hence the name). A raised bezel will keep the screen in perfect condition when face down, cutouts are precise, and the button covers work well. There’s also Microban antimicrobial treatment on this case to prevent any bacteria from building up. This isn’t strictly the most protective case Speck offers — that would probably be the Presidio Sport, which offers 15-foot drop protection — but we think the enhanced grip this case provides makes it a better pick. After all, the best drop protection is not to drop your iPhone in the first place.

Griffin Survivor Extreme Case

Sporting a really tough two-piece design, this case from Griffin is ideal for outdoor adventures and designed to keep your iPhone safe at all times. It has been drop-tested to military standards at up to 16 feet onto concrete, and it keeps your phone safely cushioned inside. The FortiCore material employed here is adept at dispersing impact shock. You’ll also find button and port covers, so there’s no chance for dust, rain, mud, or snow to get in and cause any damage — and there’s an antimicrobial coating to repel germs and bacteria. Despite the chunky, rugged protection offered here, you’ll find that wireless charging still works with the case on. If drop damage is your main concern, they don’t come much tougher than this.

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro Series Case

Fancy a case that looks like it’s straight out of Black Mirror, and offers drop protection of up to 20 feet? This case from Supcase ticks both boxes, and with its dual-layer construction, rubberized grip, and shockproof TPU bumper, it offers serious protection for your iPhone. The built-in screen protector ensures 360-degree protection, so no more smashed screens should you drop your phone. It’s compatible with Apple MagSafe and most other wireless chargers and features a handy built-in kickstand — there’s even a rotatable holster clip, so you don’t need to sling your phone in your bag or pocket. We’d opt for the eye-catching violet version (pictured), but this case also comes in black, cerulean, or orange.

Best waterproof cases

The newest iPhones all come with water resistance to some degree, but if you’re going to be taking a $1,000 device for a dip, doubling up is worthwhile. Here are some of the best waterproof iPhone cases out there.

LifeProof FRĒ Case

LifeProof FRĒ Case for iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

Waterproof to a depth of 2 meters (about 6.6 feet) for up to an hour, this LifeProof case is also snow-proof, dirt-proof, and drop-proof. Made using 60% recycled plastic, it boasts a maximum drop height of 2 meters, meaning you can probably drop it out of a small tree and it will keep your iPhone in one piece. As a waterproof case, it’s completely sealed from front to back to keep out water, yet it has a maximum thickness of only 13.72mm (half an inch), so it won’t be too bulky. It also works with Apple’s MagSafe charger and with Qi wireless charging, so you can keep it on pretty much all the time.

Spidercase Waterproof Case

SPIDERCASE Waterproof Case for iPhone 12/12 Pro

This is a waterproof case that comes with a built-in screen protector and also a scratch-resistant back panel, providing your phone will all-over coverage. It’s a cheaper alternative to the Ghostek Nautical case but not quite as impenetrable by water at greater depths. That said, it will resist exposure to shallow water, so it’s great for casual swimmers (as opposed to divers). It also includes accurate cutouts for the iPhone’s buttons, sensors, and cameras, and it’s compatible with wireless chargers. As a bonus, it incorporates shock-absorbing edges and corners, giving you plenty of insurance against shocks and drops.

Ghostek Nautical Waterproof Case

Ghostek Nautical Waterproof Case for iPhone 12

Do you want to make sure your iPhone never comes into direct contact with water? Then the Ghostek Nautical case is the item for you. It consists of a full-body, watertight sealed shell, making it submersible in up to 20 feet of water (about 6 meters). It’s therefore perfect for divers as well as for taking underwater photos. As a bonus, it also has a high-performance rugged design, with shock-absorbing edges and corners, ensuring that your iPhone won’t be breaking or cracking anytime soon. It has been drop-tested to military standards, withstanding drops of up to 12 feet. It’s also compatible with wireless charging and MagSafe accessories, so it’s a great all-around case in its own right.

Best transparent cases

The iPhone is a phenomenally gorgeous device, and you shouldn’t have to hide it away in the name of protection. These tough cases are also clear (to some extent), so you can still show off your smartphone.

Catalyst Influence Series Case

This case offers drop protection from falls of up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) thanks to air-cushioned engineering — and it has a transparent design that shows off your iPhone, plus a fingerprint-resistant finish. The micro-textured back ensures excellent grip, helping to prevent any drops from happening in the first place. Raised bezels keep your screen safe, and there’s a handy mute button that lets you instantly mute your phone.

Gear4 Piccadilly Case

Protective cases can be sleek, too, as this transparent case from Gear4 shows. The Piccadilly case offers up to 10 feet (3 meters) of drop protection in a slim, clear polycarbonate and TPU shell, with D30 material — the same stuff used by pro athletes and the military — to ensure top-notch protection. It has an antimicrobial coating that repels bacteria, a scratch-resistant finish, and a UV coating. Choose from clear with a black, blue, or rose gold bumper.

Best leather and leather wallet cases

Nothing has quite the same impact as leather. If you want your iPhone to look good as well as being protected, then these are the cases you want.

Torro Leather Wallet Case

Torro Leather Wallet Case for iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

Made in the U.K. with genuine cowhide leather, this slimline wallet case is stylish and strong. It combines a durable silicone frame with a soft microfiber lining (to protect the iPhone’s screen), while the addition of a leather upper layer makes it highly durable, capable of withstanding even the most serious of falls. The genuine, luxury leather also feels great to the touch, and the case is appreciably lightweight and slim, so even with a front and back cover, it doesn’t feel bulky. As it’s a leather wallet case, it has slots for cards and cash, and it comes with a magnetic clasp that will keep it securely closed.

Caislean Leather Flip Case

Caislean Leather Flip Case for iPhone 12

Here’s a very sleek leather flip case that doubles as protection for your iPhone and as a holder for cards and bills. It’s made of handcrafted PU leather, making it soft and light but also durable. Three slots for cards and one for bills are included, while the outer layer of the case includes RFID shielding material, just in case anyone tries to scan your back pocket. The case includes raised lips for extra screen and camera protection, and its shockproof inner layer also provides added scratch protection. It can be folded to serve as a kickstand, while it closes cleanly using a magnetic closure. It’s also pretty affordable, although one downside is that it isn’t compatible with wireless chargers.

Nomad Rugged Case

Leather is a hardy material, but it’s not often classified as “rugged” — until now. Nomad’s rugged case is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a leather case with some serious brawn. The base layer of the case is made from hard polycarbonate and combined with a raised TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) bumper around the outside. These two materials provide a good range of protection by themselves, but the addition of the black Horween leather really takes it to another level, imbuing the case with leather’s natural durability and luxurious style. The Nomad is drop-tested up to 10 feet, and it has two lanyard attachment points for drop-proofing. It’s expensive, but it’s certainly worth the money.

Best slim and lightweight cases

Not every case is a big, hefty chunk of plastic that adds inches onto your svelte iPhone. These cases are lightweight and slim, while also affording decent protection.

Ghostek Atomic Slim Case

You might not have heard of Ghostek, but it could soon become a household name if it keeps producing cases this good. We’re huge fans of the Atomic Slim case — as the name suggests, it’s slim, but it packs a punch when it comes to protection. It’s constructed from a shock-absorbent TPU inner core and a strong polycarbonate back panel and features a lightweight yet tough aluminum frame. There’s some serious drop protection going on here, with this case protecting your phone against drops of up to 12 feet (3.6 meters), as well as a raised bezel that keeps your display and camera lenses safe from dirt and grit. Yes, it’s a little bulkier than a standard silicone case, but it’s one of the slimmest rugged cases around right now and is well worth the price.

Incipio Grip Case

Incipio’s cases are very protective — something that’s reflected in the Incipio case-making process — and the Grip is one of its finest. The Grip case features multidirectional grips to reduce the risk of you dropping your iPhone. If it does happen to slip through your fingers, you’ve covered with up to 14 feet of drop protection thanks to Impact Strut technology. Extended raised bezels around the screen offer even more protection — and this case has antimicrobial technology to prevent up to 99.9% of germs and surface bacteria. It works perfectly with wireless charging and Apple Pay, but we’d recommend a screen protector if you want full protection.

Tech21 Evo Check Case

Some of the best rugged iPhone cases can be expensive, but sometimes they’re worth it. We’ve seen firsthand how Tech21 tests rugged cases and its full range offers solid drop protection for your iPhone. Just like the other Tech21 iPhone 12 Pro cases in the range, the Evo Check has been drop tested from 12 feet, which is a lot higher than the typical height of a smartphone fall. The protection extends around the entirety of the case, with three layers of protection in the bumper to take the sting out of any impact. This case is also relatively light, thin, comfortable to hold, and there’s even built-in antimicrobial protection to keep things nice and hygienic. It has built-in button covers, and generous cutouts for the camera, port, and switch. This case comes in Black/Smokey, Midnight Green, and Mystical Fuchsia.

Mous Limitless 3.0 Case

A lot of case manufacturers struggle to make rugged cases that look attractive, but not Mous. The new Limitless 3.0 line, with a textured leather back, is truly stylish, the cut is distinctive and original, and Mous has achieved this without compromising in any way on the protection it affords. A combination of polycarbonate and TPU provides seriously strong drop protection, a soft microfiber lining cushions your iPhone inside, and a beveled lip extends to safeguard the screen. There are minimal button covers, and you’ll find accurate, angled openings for the port, speakers, camera, and switch. The leather back is treated to make it durable and stain-resistant, and it comes in various colors, though we love the speckled black and white finish best of all.

Best cheap cases

Not every case has to put a hole in your wallet, and protection on a budget is possible.

Temdan Clear Case

Temdan Clear Case for iPhone 12:12 Pro

This is an inexpensive — yet highly practical and effective — case from Temdan. It’s slim and light, making it convenient to use, yet it also includes shockproof corners and raised bezels around the screen. This makes it highly protective for a case in its price range. It’s also mostly transparent, which is great for those of us who like to marvel at the beauty of our iPhones while using them (although it also offers a range of different colors). Other nice features include the precise cutouts around the phone’s buttons, ports, cameras, and speakers, while it also comes with its own screen protector, which can be slotted easily into the case.

Mkeke Clear Case

Mkeke Clear Case for iPhone 12/12 Pro

Here’s a no-nonsense case from Mkeke that offers a slimline profile, flattering transparency, and a sturdy combination of TPU and PC. The mix of a hard PC rear and a flexible yet rugged TPU frame means that it should guard your iPhone or 12 Pro against everyday accidents and impacts. Its curved shape is also easy to grip, while it includes precise cutouts for all of the phone’s buttons and ports. The transparency is another bonus, providing an inexpensive way of showing off the phone’s good looks.

Spigen Tough Armor Case

Spigen knows tough, and the Tough Armor is one of the toughest in its arsenal. It’s a classic dual-layer shell case, with a flexible TPU inner case paired with a hard polycarbonate outer shell, complete with a horizontal kickstand. The hard outer shell will work wonders at stopping scratches and other such damage, while the inner TPU core will protect your buttons from harm, while also absorbing the impact from drops and shocks. This shock protection has been further enhanced with a layer of impact foam inside the case, along with some strategically placed airbags that help to dissipate energy from impacts. It’s tough, but it’s not the thinnest, and you should be prepared to add a layer of thickness to your phone.

Best cute cases

“Protective” doesn’t have to mean “ugly”, and these cases are, quite simply, adorable. They’re also extremely brawny, so don’t say it to their faces.

Gviewin Clear Floral Case

Gviewin Clear Floral Case for iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

Here’s a chic decorated case that happens to be slim, lightweight, and pretty protective. It is made of impact-resistant and flexible TPU, giving it decent protection against pretty much every accident that’s likely to come your way. It also offers a wide selection of different floral designs, which come in a range of tasteful and color schemes that are pretty without being too strong. Owners with wireless chargers will also be pleased to note that these remain compatible with your phone even when the case on, while the case’s cutouts fit the iPhone very snugly.

Ted Baker Folio Glitsie Flip Mirror Case

Ted Baker Folio Glitsie Flip Mirror Case for iPhone 12/12 Pro

Ted Baker also offers a very comely floral case for the iPhone 12, but we’ve gone for this number since it stands out a little more from the crowd. It’s a mirror flip case that covers the front and rear of the iPhone 12 or 12 Pro, offering better all-over coverage than most other cases. Its glittery pink design is also very distinctive, and will probably go very well with any Ted Baker handbags you happen to have lying around. However, the cherry on the cake is the built-in mirror, helping you to check whether your lipstick is neat and tidy or you don’t have pieces of lunch stuck in your teeth.

Case-Mate Tough Groove Case

Cases don’t have to be utilitarian, and this eye-catching, translucent case proves it. The iridescent finish changes depending on the light and the color of the device inside. The hard, grooved back and flexible sides offer great grip, but if your iPhone should slip from your grasp, there’s no need to worry because this case offers drop protection up to 10 feet. There’s an anti-scratch coating on the back to keep it looking good, and wireless charging works just fine with the case on. Case-Mate also offers a lifetime warranty. Accurate cutouts and good button covers complete this tempting package.

Editors’ Recommendations






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