Phone cases are the difference between a pristine new smartphone and one that looks decidedly secondhand. They can often be the difference between a pristine-looking smartphone and one that looks like it’s fallen down a flight of stairs. Not only that, but the best phone cases can really add value to the overall aesthetics of your device, making it look even more stylish and sophisticated than it was beforehand. We’ve therefore rounded up the best phone case brands active today, so you have a better chance of finding the perfect cover for you and your device.
Who Ghostek cases are for: People who want military-grade protection with style
Price range: Medium to high
Based in the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York, Ghostek manufactures everything from smartphone cases to speakers and headphones. Regardless of the specific product, the common denominator is usually rugged durability, with the vast majority of its phone cases offering military-grade protection and shock resistance. At the same time, “sleek design” is another one of Ghostek’s main aims, so you can be sure your phone won’t end up looking like it has a plastic brick attached to it. Many of their latest phone cases feature translucent backs and tastefully colored frames, so you can show off your phone while guarding it against serious damage. It also makes waterproof cases, in case you swim or dive with your phone.
Who Tech21 cases are for: People who want well-designed cases with significant extra features
Price range: Medium to high
Tech21’s self-declared mission is to create “the most intelligent protection on the planet”. A lofty aim for sure, but one the American company largely realizes, thanks in no small part to the extra features it adds to its highly protective phone cases. For example, Tech21’s roster of covers currently includes the Evo range, which, in addition to providing 10ft drop protection, also includes bacterial and UV-light resistance. The Eco range, meanwhile, is fully biodegradable, so you can rest assured that your accessory purchases won’t end up harming our environment. It also helps that their cases are very well-designed, with the company generally producing slimline cases that can be purchased in transparent, plain, or decorated color schemes.
Who Urban Armor Gear cases are for: People who need the most rugged of rugged cases
Price range: Medium to high
All of the brands featured in this article will do a good job of protecting your phone from everyday thrills and spills, but if you’re an outdoorsy type who really needs to go that extra mile, then Urban Armor Gear (UAG) is probably the brand for you. While it does offer slimline transparent cases, its most well-known covers are like lightweight tanks for your phone. This includes UAG’s Monarch series of cases, which comprise five layers of protection and boast double military-grade protection. They may not be quite as elegant as other covers, but even with its bulkier models, UAG always offers sharp modernistic designs that will please plenty of tastes.
Who Mous cases are for: People who want beautifully crafted cases with solid drop protection
Price range: High
Mous makes some of the most well-designed and attractive phone cases around. All of its models are slimline and lightweight, yet what sets them apart from most other manufacturers is that they offer cases in a variety of materials, from aramid fiber and leather to bamboo and walnut. Regardless of which you choose, these special materials really give Mous’ products a level of sophistication and finesse that other cases lack. On top of this, they remain highly protective, with most of the covers being built with more than one layer and featuring some kind of shock-resistance technology. These cases are also usually ROHS and REACH certified, meaning they’re free of a variety of potentially hazardous materials.
Who Spigen cases are for: People who want value without skimping on protection
Price range: Low to medium
Spigen manufactures possibly the widest range of smartphone covers available today. Whether you’re looking for an affordable slimline case or a tough armor case, it almost certainly has you covered. While a selection of its products can be had for around $20 or a little under, even these provide shock-absorbent layers and grip-friendly materials, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your phone vulnerable. The cases largely feature minimalistic designs that really complement the forms of most phones, never being too gaudy or ostentatious. Most lack the kinds of premium features you might find with pricier brands, but at the same time, Spigen also makes several special covers, such as the Slim Armor Wallet series and cases with built-in kickstands.
Who OtterBox cases are for: People who want comprehensive all-in-one cases
Price range: High
OtterBox makes possibly the most comprehensive smartphone cases on the market today. While the vast majority of its covers are slimline and simply designed, it crams in an inordinately high number of features, from antimicrobial coatings and no-slip grips to 3x military-grade drop protection and wireless charging compatibility. These products really are the Swiss army knives of the case world, a fact underlined most strongly by its Pop Symmetry series. These include a circular “PopGrip” which attaches to the back of each case and which can be extended, so you can hold your phone more firmly, stand it up while watching videos, or take steadier selfies.
Who Speck cases are for: Butterfingers
Price range: Medium to high
Speck is known for making some desirably chic cases that are lightweight yet supremely protective, but the most distinctive selling point of most of these cases is that they come with no-slip grip materials and surfaces. If you’re the type of person who drops their phone at least once or twice over the course of its life, this means you should really give them a look. Generally, the high level of grip is provided by a combination of fine ridges and soft materials, which together help the case (and your phone) stick to your hand. However, Speck doesn’t rest only with grip, since many of its products boast serious (e.g., 13-foot) drop-protection, antimicrobial resistance, and air-cushion technology.
Do I need a case for my phone?
The short answer to this question is yes, you do need a case for your phone.
To provide a little more detail, you can get away without having a case if you don’t mind using a phone that, sooner or later, will pick up scratches and possibly cracks. However, if you want to ensure that you can use your phone for as long as possible, getting a good case will go a long way to achieving this. A case is particularly advisable if you think you might end up trying to sell or trade in your phone at some point, since a well-maintained smartphone will obviously have greater resale value than one that looks like it’s been dragged around by a tractor.
What type of phone case should I get?
This depends on the type of person you are, including your tastes, lifestyle, and budget. There are a variety of case types, each with their pros and cons. Here are the main ones:
- Rugged/armor: These tend to be bulkier, heavier cases. They’re not as slim or as light as others, but they’ll generally provide greater drop protection and shock resistance. People who tend to be more physically active and who use their phones outside may benefit most from having this kind of case.
- Wallet: As the name suggests, these wrap around phones like a normal wallet. They usually include several slots for cards and cash on the inner sleeve opposite your phone, and can also be used to stand up your device. They’re not the most protective kind of case, but they guard against everyday damage well enough and usually look pretty stylish.
- Slimline: These are cases that are usually very thin and lightweight. Many are transparent, thereby showing off the actual design of your phone. They tend to be more practical and convenient (in terms of getting your phone in/out of your pocket), and the best is still pretty protective.
- Charging: These are cases with built-in batteries, which can be used to provide your phone with extra charge while on the move. They’re great for people who travel often, although they’re usually heavy, so aren’t quite as convenient as normal cases.
- Waterproof: These are cases that provide a limited degree of water-resistance. Just how waterproof they are varies from model to model, with some offering water-resistance of up to six meters (20 feet). They usually cover the front and back of smartphones, so can be bulkier than non-waterproof alternatives.
Where can I buy phone cases?
There are three main places where you can buy a phone case.
The first place you can go to is the official website of a case manufacturer, such as Ghostek, Tech21, Urban Armor Gear, Spigen, and so on. This may be more time-consuming than other routes, but going to a manufacturer’s website usually means that you end up seeing their full range, rather than a smaller selection of models.
The second place you can go to is the official website of your phone’s manufacturer. For example, by going to the Apple, Samsung, Google, Motorola, or OnePlus website, you’ll have a better chance of seeing cases that your phone’s maker has deemed good enough to list. This can be a good way of ensuring compatibility and suitability.
The third place you can go to is an online retailer, such as Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and so on. Such retailers will probably offer the widest possible selection of cases (from various manufacturers), while they usually include customer reviews. On top of this, they often discount cases, so they can be a good place to find a deal.
Do wallet cases protect phones?
Wallet cases protect phones more than generic smartphone covers. That’s because most cover the front and back of your phone, providing all-around protection. Added to this, wallet cases generally comprise several layers, including a plastic underlying layer that’s covered by leather. This makes them particularly rugged, although try to find models that include shock absorption, so your phone will be protected against more serious falls.
Do I need a waterproof case?
Most people won’t need a waterproof case. Newer phones tend to carry an IP68-rating, meaning they’re already capable of withstanding immersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. This is likely all the water-resistance most people need. That said, if you’re a diver and/or like to take underwater pictures, then a waterproof case is probably a must. The best waterproof cases can offer resistance of up to six meters, so they really are built for keeping your phone operational during dives.
How much does a phone case cost?
With the brands featured above, phone cases can cost anything from $20 to $70, with most good cases being around $40. The best cases, therefore, aren’t particularly cheap, although the extra cost really does afford you some valuable extra features (antimicrobial protection, biodegradability, attachments) and generally have a higher build quality and use better materials. If you want to save money, certain brands on online retailers such as Amazon do offer cases at around the $10 mark, so you can find even greater value if you look for it (although you often won’t get the very best protection or quality).
Also, battery cases are likely to cost noticeably more than normal cases. For instance, Apple charges around $129 for its official iPhone 11 Pro battery case.
What should I do with an old case?
This one really is up to you. Assuming that the case is in good condition, you could sell it online, so we’d advise you to check out our article on the best apps for selling stuff.
Alternatively, you could look into the possibility of recycling your old case. For example, the U.S. manufacturer Pela runs a scheme whereby you can send your old case to them when buying a new Pela case. You can also donate your old case to a charity such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or you can give it away for free via such platforms as The Freecycle Network.