If you have an iPhone, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cases to choose from. Some are slim and protect your phone without adding weight or bulk, others add pockets and other features at the expense of size and shape. This week, we’re going to look at five of the best iPhone cases, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week we asked you to tell us which iPhone cases you think are the best, whether they’re the feature-packed, wallet-replacements or the slim and trim bumpers or hard-shells that you might not even notice are there. Sadly, because Android devices differ so much in size and shape, there’s no set of universal go-to Android cases, so this week’s Hive is just for iPhone users. Here’s what you said:
Otterbox’s history of making great cases for all types of phones is well established. They’ve been at it for a long time. Otterbox’s high-impact Defender series feature a soft silicone bumper for your device that slides neatly into a hard polycarbonate body, which then connected to a hard polycarbonate screen and face protector, offering complete armored protection on all sides. It definitely adds a little bulk to your phone, but if you’re hard on your phone, or take it with you hiking, biking, or any other outdoorsy activity, you may appreciate the extra protection. It also comes with a belt clip, if you’re the type who wants one. The Commuter on the other hand is a little trimmer (I actually own one for my Android phone). Your phone slips into a silicone sleeve that then slides into a polycarbonate body that protects the side and back, but leaves the front easily accessible (although all models come with a screen protector). The Commuter is a touch thinner than the Defender, but it cuts down on the bulk considerably. If you want either one, the Defender (above on the left) starts at $ 50 for all iPhone models (and can go up to $ 60 if you choose a customized model), and the Commuter (above on the right) is $ 35 for all models, regardless of the color or design you purchase.
Case-Mate makes a huge variety of cases for all types of phones. Some are rugged and designed to keep your phone safe from drops, bumps, and scratches, while others in Case-Mate’s lineup are more about personalization and designer looks. You nominated the Case-Mate Tough series, which, as part of their new “Olo” sub-brand, do a good job at keeping your phone in good condition without breaking the bank or adding a ton of bulk or extra weight to the device. iPhone 4/4S users have their choice of the $ 40 Tough Xtreme, a sleek, full-body protective case that’s actually military-graded (seriously, it’s passed the Mil-STD-810F, last year’s test grade for field use in miltary equipment). It’s a two-piece case that protects the front and back, shields the phone’s ports (but still grants access), and added soft buttons for easy control. iPhone 5 users have the $ 40 Tough case or the $ 35 Naked Tough case to choose from, which is slightly less robust but super slim (2.5mm thick). They both feature a shock-absorbing silicone bumper and a protective hard plastic shell. All of their cases are available in blanks, if you want to use Case-Mate’s I Make My Case customization service.
Twelve South’s products for the Mac and iPhone are some of the well-crafted and design-forward accessories you’ll find. Unlike other cases though that are designed to keep your phone safe from drops and shocks or scratches, the BookBook is different. It’s designed to be both a case and a wallet, and disguise your phone as a small book. The BookBook has pockets and sleeves you can use to store cash, credit cards, ID, and other important documents you may want to keep with you. The bottom has access to the 30-pin (iPhone 4/4S) or Lightning (iPhone 5) port so you can charge or sync without removing it from its case, and the headphone port is unobstructed so you can use that too. The cover is leather-wrapped from edge to edge, so your device has complete protection (except along the right side, where the case opens), and the top and bottom are hard firm sheets, so dropping something on the top of the BookBook won’t damage your screen. There’s a hole for your camera, so you can use it with the case on (although it’d probably be a bit awkward). It’s not the toughest of the cases in the roundup, so don’t take it mountain climbing, but it’s a great all-in-one case if you want a case that’s also a wallet replacement. Both the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 models will set you back $ 60.
The Magpul Field Case walks the line between being a rigid, firm protective case and one with a little give and flexibility that won’t add a ton of bulk to your phone. They’re made of tough synthetic rubber, are available for virtually every iPhone model (3G/3GS/4/4S/5), in a variety of colors. All of their cases have ribbing across the back for an improved grip, and the rubber body of the cases cover the sides so the case can absorb shocks and drops. Don’t think that because the case is rubberized that it’ll be tough to get in and out of your pocket though—it actually doesn’t catch when used. It snaps in and out of place easily, and offers unobstructed access to all of your iPhone’s ports while attached. All models are available now, and while the iPhone 5 case isn’t available directly from their website, it is (along with all of their other cases) available at Amazon. The 3G/3GS and 4/4S Field Case will set you back $ 10, and the iPhone 5 model is $ 13 retail, although all of them are a bit cheaper at Amazon depending on the color you want.
Diffr3nt Wallet and Slim Cases
Diffr3nt is actually a small, Kickstarter-funded company out of Connecticut with a fan base active enough that they came to vote in droves to get their favorite company represented in the Hive Five. The company makes two types of cases, the Wallet and the Slim Case, and as their names imply the Slim is designed to offer protection to your iPhone without adding a ton of bulk, while the Wallet has a slot on the back for your ID, cash, credit cards, and other important documents. Each case is hand-crafted canvas, lined with a shock-absorbing material to keep your phone in place and add extra protection. The canvas body slides in and out of your pocket easily, and is tough enough to keep up with the bumps and scrapes of daily life. It’s a full fold-over model, so it keeps the screen protected as well. Plus, it’s available in a ton of great colors. If you want one, the Wallet will set you back $ 42 for the iPhone 4/4S model and $ 50 for the iPhone 5 model. The Slim retails for $ 35 for the iPhone 4/4S and $ 45 for the iPhone 5.
There you have it, your five favorite cases for the iPhone! Now it’s time to put them to a vote and determine the all-out winner.
Before we get to the honorable mentions, I should note that Brian Lam, currently heading up The Wirecutter (and formerly of Gizmodo, check our recent interview with him to see how he gets things done!) stopped by and had this to say:
Hey Brian here, formerly from Gizmodo, now at The Wirecutter. We spend like 40 hours checking cases and also worked with Nick Guy from ilounge, the best case reviewer we have seen so far (ever) as far as iphone and ipad protection goes. We both agree the Switcheasy Case is our favorite. It’s slim but protective, and has a great grippy texture. I like it a lot and it’s saved my phone from a dozen spills.
Here’s a longer explanation of what I just said, by the way.
There you have it – the professional opinion. The Switcheasy picked up some nominations in our Call for Contenders thread, but not enough to make the top five unfortunately. Still, if you’re looking for a good case, you would do well to trust The Wirecutter’s opinion.
Honorable mentions this week go out to Speck Cases, specifically the PixelSkin HD, which is available for a variety of devices and in tons of different colors. It’s a soft, rubberized case that protects your device’s back and sides without obstructing any of the ports. Also worth an honorable mention are Lifeproof Cases, designed to put up with an incredible amount of punishment, including being dropped in the water. If you’re hard on your phone, they’re seriously worth a look.
I also have to throw in a personal rec for Element Cases, which I’m surprised didn’t get the nominations I thought they would. They can be pricey, but they’re really sharp looking, and come in a variety of materials, from straight wood to high-tech-looking carbon fiber. If none of the above do it for you, take a look, I think you’ll like them.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photo by Miki Yoshihito.