Photo: Sarah Kobos
The iPhone 13 lineup is here, and accompanying it is a whole new batch of cases to protect and personalize the updated designs---old iPhone 12 cases won't fit the 2021 models. If you're getting one of the new phones, here's a look at our favorite cases of the 70 we've tried.
- Best basic iPhone 13 case: Smartish Gripmunk with MagSafe
- Best leather iPhone 13 case: Apple Leather Case with MagSafe
- Combine your wallet and phone case: Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1
- A more protective case: Smartish Gripzilla with MagSafe
- A clear case to show off your phone: Smartish Gripmunk Nothin' to Hide
- A superthin case we like: Caudabe Veil
- An accessory-friendly case: Peak Design Everyday Case
- Why you should trust us
- What makes a great iPhone case
- What to look forward to
- The competition
Best basic iPhone 13 case: Smartish Gripmunk with MagSafe
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Smartish Gripmunk with MagSafe for iPhone 13 mini
- Smartish Gripmunk with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro
- Smartish Gripmunk with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: Smartish's Gripmunk, through many names and minor tweaks, has been our favorite basic iPhone case for half a decade. It's no surprise to see this case once again best the competition when it comes to the iPhone 13, especially now that Smartish has improved on the tried-and-true design by adding a MagSafe magnet for a small premium. A non-MagSafe version is available for $5 less, but it's better to spend the extra Lincoln now rather than having to buy a whole new case if you decide you want to use MagSafe down the line.
The Gripmunk is a one-piece protector made of soft, rubber-like plastic (TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane) with enough give for you to easily install it on your phone but not so much that it will stretch out, and the case's corners won't pop off when you don't want them to. The back is smooth, while the perimeter has a pebbly texture that, combined with three small grooves on the left and right sides, provides a noticeable amount of grip. We prefer cases that cover the iPhone's buttons but don't dampen the clickiness, which the Gripmunk thankfully gets right. And although we can't vouch for exactly how protective the air pockets in the four corners are, I can personally attest to the case's ability to withstand more than a few drops.
Slightly ridged edges help with grip, and the buttons press well. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Non-MagSafe versions of the case are TPU through and through, but the magnetic version houses the metal ring in a sheet of soft microfiber lining, which doesn't add noticeable bulk. In our testing, the attachment system worked exactly as we expected for both mounting and charging.
Previous-generation iPhones had raised camera bumps, but they were short enough that the thickness of most cases, including the previous-generation Gripmunk, was enough to protect them. It's a different story with the iPhone 13--series handsets and their huge camera modules. Smartish accounts for this design change with a raised ring all the way around that protects the lenses.
In addition to the superb case designs, Smartish has always kept its prices low, and that's one of the reasons we like its cases so much. Price isn't our main consideration, but when comparing everything out there, we've rarely seen cases that offer empirically better features at the same or similar prices---oftentimes, case makers are charging even higher prices for less impressive models.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Though the Gripmunk checks all the boxes, it isn't the most exciting case in the world. (That's why it's our basic pick.) It's plain, but it's the best plain case there is. If you like it but find that the solid colors don't do much for you, consider one of the various prints Smartish offers, or even your own custom design, which is available for a premium through the company's website.
Available colors: black, blue, clear (Nothin' to Hide), purple, various custom designs
Other great basic cases
The Caudabe Sheath. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Caudabe's Sheath feels like an alternate take on the Gripmunk, with similar materials and design features. The flexible material---Caudabe refers to it only as a "flexible polymer"---is textured all the way around rather than just along the perimeter, and that certainly adds some grip. The buttons click with little resistance or dampening, and the branding is minimal. Much like the 2021 Gripmunk, the Sheath now includes MagSafe support. The biggest downside is the nearly $40 price tag, which is twice as much as what our pick from Smartish usually costs. But if you like the aesthetics of Caudabe's case, we don't think that's an unreasonable price to pay.
Best leather iPhone 13 case: Apple Leather Case with MagSafe
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Apple Leather Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13 mini
- Apple Leather Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro
- Apple Leather Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: No one has come close to replicating the quality of Apple's leather iPhone cases since the company started making them in 2015, especially not at the fairly reasonable (for leather) $60 price. So the Apple Leather Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13 is once again our favorite with its combination of high-quality materials, all-around protection, clicky buttons, beautiful colors, and MagSafe compatibility, all of which adds up to make it the ideal leather iPhone case.
The metal buttons on Apple's Leather Case offer a satisfying click. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Most other leather cases have some sort of plastic or rubber portion, but the Apple version is leather all the way around, with thin sturdy plastic hidden underneath. This design makes it look nicer than the rest and also allows it to be thinner, even as the case rises above the phone's screen and camera bump for protection. The button covers are metal, and the contrasting material makes them easy to find by feel; they also click exquisitely. And although some early leather cases from Apple left the iPhone's bottom edge exposed---admittedly, a design that some people prefer when it comes to swiping from the bottom---we're of the opinion that the full protection the newer versions offer is better because it means you don't have to worry about damaging exposed aluminum or steel.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Apple Leather Case is not a forever case, and it may not even be a one-year-until-you-get-the-next-iPhone case. Its material tends to show wear, subtly at first with what one might describe as a patina. But after a year or so, especially if you tend to drop your iPhone a fair amount or if you have oily hands, you'll likely notice discoloration and damage down to the plastic core. Apple also specifically warns that using MagSafe connectors can leave an imprint.
Available colors: golden brown, dark cherry, sequoia green, midnight, wisteria
Other great leather cases
The Nomad Modern Leather Case. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Nomad's Modern Leather Case is the next-best option after Apple's. Instead of all-leather, it's a rubber case with a leather panel on the back. We prefer the Apple design, but Nomad's case is quite nice on its own merits, and it includes MagSafe support.
Combine your wallet and phone case: Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 for iPhone 13 mini
- Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 for iPhone 13 Pro
- Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: I'm looking forward to a wallet-free future where I can have Apple Pay, plane and concert tickets, hotel keys, my vaccine passport, and eventually my ID all available on my phone. But until then, there are still a few cards most people have to carry, and Smartish's Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 for iPhone 13 is the best way to pack a few. It's essentially the Gripmunk with a three-card wallet built into the back, which I find to be perfect for my license, a credit card, and my MetroCard.
The Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 has the same thickness whether you have three cards or none stuffed inside. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Just like the Gripmunk, the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 consists of soft, rubbery TPU all around, with a flat texture on the back and grippier sides, as well as the same air pockets in the corners. The only difference is the raised back, which adds about 0.15 inch and makes the whole case only a little more than half an inch thick. A credit-card-height slot sits along the right, and a smaller hole on the left lets you push the cards out. Hidden underneath is a clever bump that provides enough tension to secure your cards whether you have one, two, or three packed in.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: If you choose the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1, keep in mind that there's no option to leave the wallet segment behind---even when you're not carrying cards in the case, you have to deal with its extra thickness. If you'd rather have a more modular setup, consider pairing Apple's Leather Wallet with MagSafe and a MagSafe case, which is an expensive combination but gives you more options. Speaking of MagSafe, the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 doesn't support it.
You can put Apple's Leather Wallet on or take it off as needed. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Available colors: black, blue, purple, various custom designs
Other great wallet cases
The Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 2. Photo: Sarah Kobos
The Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 2, like everything else in Smartish's lineup, starts with the Gripmunk at its core. The difference lies in its expandable faux-leather card pocket on the back. We like the hold that the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 offers a bit better, but both cases are great options.
Bellroy's Phone Case - 3 Card costs four times what our pick does, and although it's nicer, it's not four times nicer. It holds your cards under a leather back panel, accessible through a door that's held shut by a magnet. We found it easy to get the cards in and out as needed. If you're willing to spend this much on a wallet case, you'll likely be happy with it.
A more protective case: Smartish Gripzilla with MagSafe
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Smartish Gripzilla with MagSafe for iPhone 13 mini
- Smartish Gripzilla with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro
- Smartish Gripzilla with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: There was a time when you had to pay $50 or more for a case that you could feel assured would take a licking and keep on kicking, with OtterBox leading the charge early on and defining the category. Smartish's Gripzilla for iPhone 13 costs half that, and although we wouldn't throw it down the stairs just to prove a point, we wouldn't be too worried about the phone inside if we were to do that.
The Gripzilla's body is designed to be extra protective, with raised corners and a thin piece of foam lining the back and housing the MagSafe magnet. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Just like the Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1, the Gripzilla is a variation of the basic Gripmunk case we recommend. It gets its extra protection from a bit of added bulk. While it's only about 0.02 inch thicker---enough that the raised border around the camera is pretty minimal---the iPhone 13 version of the Gripzilla is about 0.1 inch taller and wider than the base Gripmunk case, with extended corners that offer even greater shock absorption. That difference, combined with the more deeply recessed finger ridges on either side that provide for an especially secure grip, make us confident that thanks to this case you'll be less likely to drop your phone, and it'll be in good shape a lot of the time if you do. Oh, and MagSafe support is built right in---unlike on the Gripmunk, that feature comes standard here. For complete protection, be sure to add one of the screen protectors we recommend, which can save the front glass from scratches and cracks.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Bulk! That's the trade-off that comes with a more protective case like this. But the difference is really noticeable only when you're holding a Gripmunk in one hand and a Gripzilla in the other. Otherwise, the Gripzilla, even the iPhone 13 Pro Max variant, doesn't feel too huge.
Available colors: black, gray, various custom designs
Other great protective cases
The OtterBox Symmetry. Photo: Sarah Kobos
As the Smartish Gripzilla shows, you don't have to spend a huge amount to get great protection. But if you tend to feel secure in a case purchase only if you spend enough to make it seem worth it, you can always consider the OtterBox Symmetry---which is also available in MagSafe, clear, clear with MagSafe, PopSocket, and clear with PopSocket variants---as well as sibling brand LifeProof's nearly identical See. The core version is a plastic case with rubber around the edges, and in our first-hand experience, we've found that it can stand up to a fair number of drops. We like the slightly rough texture on the back and the slim body. Most people should at least try the Gripzilla first, but if that model isn't for you, check out one of the Symmetry models.
A clear case to show off your phone: Smartish Gripmunk Nothin' to Hide
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Smartish Gripmunk Nothin' to Hide with MagSafe for iPhone 13 mini
- Smartish Gripmunk Nothin' to Hide with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro
- Smartish Gripmunk Nothin' to Hide with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: The Nothin' to Hide is a variant of our favorite basic case. It has the same design, the same dimensions---the same pretty much everything. The two differences are that it's clear (obviously) and that the back is a hard plastic rather than the more rubber-like TPU. Although it's reflective, it doesn't have the rainbow-y prismatic distortion we tend to associate with cheaper transparent cases. And if you want a version without MagSafe, that's available, too.
Like the opaque version, the transparent Gripmunk supports MagSafe. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Just as leather cases fall apart, transparent cases turn yellow. Despite any number of claims of "anti-yellowing technology" we've seen over the years, we've never tested a clear case that hasn't become a little grimy looking over a few months. The effect is generally pretty gradual, and you may not notice the change for a while, or until you put your case next to a newer clear protector. Past versions of the Nothin' to Hide version of the Gripmunk have gone yellow on us, so we expect this one to do so, as well.
Other great clear cases
The Spigen Liquid Crystal. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Spigen makes excellent clear cases that are worth considering if, for any reason, you don't like the Smartish Gripmunk. The Spigen Ultra Hybrid and Spigen Ultra Hybrid Mag are the closest in look and feel to the clear Gripmunk, with similar hard-plastic backs and TPU borders. The big difference is that these cases are totally clear and flat, without the grippy texture and finger ridges that the Gripmunk offers. If you prefer that entirely clear look and are willing to give up a bit of grip, we recommend going with one of these cases (or the kickstand-equipped Spigen Ultra Hybrid S, if you like it).
The Spigen Liquid Crystal has been a favorite clear case at Wirecutter for years, and the iPhone 13 edition is as great as always. It's a single piece of totally clear TPU that fits perfectly, adds minimal bulk, and can survive some drops. The back is lined with a series of small dots that prevent the water-splotch look sometimes seen on cheaper clear cases. The only thing holding it back from being our top clear-case pick once again is its lack of a MagSafe option. If you don't want or need MagSafe, though, the Liquid Crystal is absolutely worth its low price.
A superthin case we like: Caudabe Veil
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Caudabe Veil for iPhone 13 mini
- Caudabe Veil for iPhone 13 Pro
- Caudabe Veil for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: Ultrathin cases aren't for everybody, and if you expect anything more than scratch protection, they shouldn't be your first choice. But if you do insist on the thinnest case you can slap on your phone, we recommend Caudabe's Veil. It's nearly identical to the other thin cases we've tested, but it costs at least $10 less.
All the cases in this category are essentially the same superthin piece of plastic molded to wrap around the phone while adding next to no bulk. The Veil, and the rest, don't have any sort of soft materials or air pockets for absorbing shocks, or button coverage. They're better suited for adding some grip and preventing scratches on the iPhone's rear glass than preventing breaks.
The biggest difference between the Veil and its closest competitors, Totallee's Super Thin Case and Peel's Super Thin Case, is the price. The Veil sells for $10 to $15 less than either of those models, though they both come in more colors, which may be important to you if you're looking to personalize your case. Caudabe's case also has a tiny logo on the back, while the other two don't show any branding.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Like every other superthin case, the Veil won't do much to prevent your phone from breaking if you drop it. Choose it only if you're comfortable with that compromise. The color options are also more limited than we'd like. If you prefer this style but want a different color, check out the competitors we mention above.
Available colors: black, frost
MagSafe compatible: not fully
An accessory-friendly case: Peak Design Everyday Case
Photo: Sarah Kobos
Also available for these iPhones:
- Peak Design Everyday Case for iPhone 13 mini
- Peak Design Everyday Case for iPhone 13 Pro
- Peak Design Everyday Case for iPhone 13 Pro Max
Why it's great: Peak Design's Everyday Case is a top option whether you know you want to swap accessories on the fly or you think you might, or even if you're not concerned about accessories at all. It's a great case in its own right that happens to have special features that set it apart.
The Everyday Case's polycarbonate body is covered in a dark gray nylon both inside and out, which is a handsome design. Its TPU border has small ridges along the inner edge that should help absorb damage from drops. Packed into the rear panel are the features that differentiate this case from the rest: There's a hidden MagSafe-compatible magnet that works as expected with all the MagSafe accessories we tested. The panel also has an 0.8-inch square cutout, recessed just 0.7 inch into the case, that serves as a mounting point, securely gripping accessories that clip in place. Despite this dual-attachment setup, the Everyday Case isn't noticeably thicker than even our basic case pick.
Peak sells a number of accessories that take advantage of both the clip system and the MagSafe magnets, including mounts for your car, motorcycle, and bike, as well as a tripod mounting system and wallet. The connection is strong enough that we have zero concerns about anything unintentionally falling out of place.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We don't say this often, but there aren't any flaws. This is a great case that performs well in every way we evaluate cases. If you don't think you'll take advantage of the modular accessory system, it may not be worth the higher price. But it's not too expensive to pick up even if you're only a "maybe" on the accessories; it stands on its own as a strong option.
Available colors: charcoal
Other great accessory-friendly cases
The Quad Lock Case. Photo: Sarah Kobos
Quad Lock's Case was our pick in this category since at least the iPhone 7, and I've personally tested and liked every version of it since 2013's iPhone 5. Not a lot has changed in that time, and in this instance, that's a good thing. The Quad Lock Case is primarily smooth, black, flexible plastic, similar to the back of the Smartish Gripmunk. Its special feature is the 1.3-inch-diameter, 0.13-inch-deep divot in the back, which you use to connect the case to an ecosystem of mounts and accessories that twist and lock into place. The lineup includes everything from a handlebar mount to a tripod adapter to a belt clip, all of which attach securely with a simple quarter-turn. It doesn't support MagSafe.
Why you should trust us
I've been Wirecutter's case reviewer since 2014, and in my career as an accessories writer, I've reviewed around 2,000 iPhone cases. That number spans multiple generations of Apple devices, including every iPhone since the iPhone 4 and every iPad. I've probably handled more iPhone cases than almost anyone on the planet, so I have a particularly experienced perspective and depth of knowledge when it comes to these items.
What makes a great iPhone case
When choosing the best iPhone cases, we consider a huge number of factors for such a seemingly simple product, from objective measures such as physical dimensions and level of protection to subjective assessments of look and feel.
Although we have been testing cases for many years and have had some consistent picks across multiple iPhone generations, no case automatically becomes a pick just because we've made past versions of it a pick. With the iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max in hand, we put each new case on the phones to see how well it fit and functioned.
While we have a variety of recommendations across various styles, we consider all of the following criteria when making our picks:
- Drop protection: We seek out cases that can adequately protect a phone without adding unnecessary embellishments or too much bulk. We don't conduct drop tests, but we do look for cases that are obviously capable of withstanding some impact. (Even a heavy-duty case can't guarantee that your phone will survive every scenario intact---for example, a direct hit to the screen will still do damage.) The obvious exception here is superthin cases, which purposely compromise some drop protection in favor of a thinner profile.
- Full coverage: As a general rule, the more of the phone that a case protects, the better; we prefer cases that protect everything but the phone's screen. The best cases provide button protection with tactility that mimics---or in some instances even enhances---the way the buttons feel on a bare iPhone. We also like cases that don't leave the top or bottom edge of the phone exposed, though such exposure isn't necessarily a dealbreaker. On the other hand, we don't consider cases with a circular opening to expose the Apple logo on the back of the phone because they offer less overall protection and provide no real benefit.
- Raised front lip and camera ring: As Apple's case guidelines (PDF) explain, "Exposed glass on the device shall not come within 0.85 mm of a flat surface, such as a table or floor, in any orientation when the case is attached." A lip around the edges of the phone's display helps prevent cracked screens---one of the biggest worries with any smartphone---but it also helps to keep the screen from getting scratched if you place the phone screen-down. We use a 0.85-millimeter feeler gauge, per Apple's guidelines, to test each case. Additionally, the iPhone 13--series devices have especially pronounced camera bumps, and the case material needs to rise taller than them to protect them.
- **MagSafe:**Apple's MagSafe system is a bit complicated, as it encompasses magnetic wireless chargers and accessories, as well as cases with a magnetic ring built in to support them. A case without the magnetic ring may still support charging with a MagSafe charger, as long as it's thin enough, but likely won't work with a car mount or wallet. Although a case's lack of MagSafe support isn't an absolute dealbreaker, we're seeing enough great cases with MagSafe at similar prices to those without that we generally prefer them.
- **No interference with wireless signals or other functionality:**A case shouldn't reduce performance with any wireless signals---Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, NFC (near-field communication, which is necessary to use Apple Pay), or Qi wireless charging. In our tests, we verify that each of these features works with the case on. Although wallet cases may properly support wireless charging, you shouldn't expect them to, and if you need wireless charging, we recommend that you look at a folio instead. Additionally, the case shouldn't prevent you from using any gestures. That's an especially important consideration with the iPhone 13 series, which relies on an upward swipe from the bottom edge of the screen as a primary interaction.
- **Broad aesthetic appeal:**Although you can find a case suitable for any aesthetic preference, we look for cases that have simple, even elegant designs---cases that are likely to appeal to most people---rather than models that adhere to specific aesthetic choices.
What to look forward to
We're going to be testing many more cases, from many more companies, in the coming weeks and months.
Apple's Silicone Case with MagSafe costs more than twice as much as the Smartish Gripmunk, and we've found past versions of the case to be dust and lint magnets. The colors are great, though.
The early version of ESR's Cloud Soft Case with HaloLock (the company's name for its MagSafe-compatible products) felt just a bit too small on our iPhone 13 Pro, and the corners didn't quite fit properly.
Incipio's Organicore is made of a compostable material, and we like the case well enough. Its ridged edges are easy to hold, and the buttons click well. We think it's expensive for a basic case, but if you're concerned about your environmental impact, it's worth a look. Incipio also has a clear version, though the edges are solid-colored.
Nomad, known mostly for its leather cases, now offers a Sport Case that's quite nice if you're okay with a glossy finish. The MagSafe-compatible case has a channel along its sides that helps enhance your grip, as well as the ability to send a "digital business card" over NFC.
Spigen's Thin Fit is primarily hard plastic, with a TPU border to provide some flexibility for installation and removal. The matte back shows grease from fingers, and there's no MagSafe support, but it otherwise works well.
The Spigen Mag Armor costs the same as the MagSafe version of Smartish's Gripmunk, but it comes only in black and feels somewhat slicker.
Spigen's Liquid Air is an extremely basic TPU case without any distinguishing features that make it worth your money. There's nothing wrong about what it does deliver on, but that list of accomplishments is too short to deserve credit.
LifeProof's Wake is primarily made of recycled plastic from the ocean, which is cool. But the case itself doesn't justify its price tag, as that plastic is molded into a shell with minimal shock absorption and an exposed bottom edge. We like the way the wave pattern on the back looks and feels, but even combined with the environmental claims, that's not enough to make this one worth recommending.
Most of Casetify's cases feature the brand's name surrounding the camera, a design choice we've always found off-putting. The Ultra Compostable Case is more subtle about it, at least, with the logo pressed into the plant-based material rather than embossed in a contrasting color. We think the price tag is too high compared with some of our favorite cases, but this case is worth considering for the particularly eco-minded.
Moment's Case is rather expensive for this category, but it does offer an attractive design and MagSafe support. It's compatible with Moment's mounts, as well as with the company's lenses when paired with a $5 lens mount.
Mujjo's Full Leather Case is a less expensive, but not as nice, take on the Apple Leather Case. Instead of offering metal button covers, it has them molded into the leather. There's no MagSafe support, and if you look closely you'll notice that the fit and finish is just a bit less refined.
Bellroy's Leather iPhone Case is nearly as expensive as Apple's but less refined. The seam between the leather and the TPU on our review unit had some rough edges and looked as if the materials would start to separate with normal use.
ESR's Metro Leather Case with HaloLock is the closest we've found to a clone of the Apple Leather Case. Available in black or brown, it has similar metal button covers, plus a protective metal ring around the camera. The pebbly leather doesn't feel quite as nice as the material Apple uses and we wish there were more colors, but otherwise, it's a good choice, especially if you're on a more limited budget.
Spigen's Slim Armor CS lives up to its name with a pretty slim feel. It houses credit cards under a sliding plastic door on its back, but unlike Smartish's wallet cases, it can hold only two. We also found it difficult to get the cards out because you need to lift them from underneath, which we found particularly tough with freshly trimmed fingernails.
Vena's Legacy and vCommute both combine plastic, rubber, and faux-leather elements into thick wallet cases that double as stands. They're clever, and we appreciate the originality in design, but we don't think either three-card case aesthetically appeals to a broad swath of people.
Mujjo's Full Leather Wallet Case, including the raised button protectors, is entirely leather, and the card pocket stitched onto the back can fit two cards comfortably. If you stuff three cards in there, getting them out will be tough, at least at first. But because this case is leather, you can break in the wallet portion over time.
Bluebonnet's iPhone Wallet Card Holder Case is a handsome but expensive leather wallet with two slots that can hold a total of four cards. It also has a small piece of blue elastic running halfway up the phone's height that you can slip your fingers under for grip. We find this one to be a little too pricey, but a solid option if you like the design.
OtterBox's Strada and Nomad's Modern Leather Folio are similar folio-style wallet cases for those that prefer the style, with flip-open lids fused to their left sides. Of the two, we prefer the OtterBox's look and feel more thanks to the quality of the leather and the magnets that hold the lid shut when closed or flat against the phone's back when opened, but it only holds two cards and there's no MagSafe support. Nomad's case, on the other hand, can fit three cards plus cash, and does support MagSafe. If you like folios, choose whichever model has the features that are more important to you.
More protective case
Catalyst's Vibe Case is a MagSafe-compatible TPU case with good grip thanks to its knurled edges and a carbon-fiber pattern on the back. Its most notable features are a dial over the mute switch and redirected audio, which the company claims makes your music 30% louder. We don't think the Vibe is worth $50, but it's a neat-looking case. It's also available as the non-MagSafe Influence Case.
Incipio's Duo two-piece case is a bit harder to install than one-piecers but doesn't offer any material benefit.
The Incipio Grip has uncomfortably hard Y-shaped protrusions all along its left and right sides. Although they may help with grip, they just don't feel good.
We like the look of Incipio's Optum, but $50 is simply too much to pay for a case without MagSafe unless you love the design.
Pelican's Protector felt like a pretty generic plastic case with little to recommend it other than its branding.
We got so frustrated taking apart the two-piece Survivor All-Terrain Earth that we gave up during the equally annoying step of trying to put it back together.
Survivor's Endurance and the company's similar but MagSafe-less Strong both have a rather attractive design and feel like they'd survive a drop or two. But they each offer very little separation between the volume buttons, which makes it nearly impossible to tell the buttons apart by touch. It's a small thing, but when you're paying that much for a case, the details should be done right.
The rear panel on SwitchEasy's Aero+ felt like a thin sheet of plastic that could easily puncture or scratch.
SwitchEasy's Alos is a clear case that has an already weathered look. We found its ridges (where its back corners would otherwise be) uncomfortable.
The expensive LifeProof Next (also available in a MagSafe version for a $10 premium) claims to offer drop, dirt, and snow protection, without any specifics to back up those promises. The two-piece design is stuck in a time when iPhones were less protected from the elements out of the box, and the best you could do to prevent damage from water and drops was to use this kind of difficult-to-install, bulky case. We just can't see a situation in which this case makes much more sense than one of the $20 to $25 cases we recommend above, or, moving in the other direction, AppleCare+ for about twice the cost of the case.
Zagg's Gear4 Brooklyn Snap combines faux leather and recycled plastic, and it's MagSafe-compatible. The case felt noticeably wider than many we tested, and we found that the fit around the front exposed the iPhone's frame in an ugly, uneven way that was unbecoming of an expensive case. The Denali Snap separates into a rubber frame and a plastic backplate, which feels like a dated design, and the Vancouver Snap is wide with unnecessary air vents along the back. Both are fine options if you like the specific look they offer.
Speck's Presidio2 Pro relies on air cushions around the edges, rather than previous editions' rubber-and-plastic layering, to help protect against drops. The matte finish is a little smoother than we'd prefer, and it may show stains more readily than other materials or textures. We think the Presidio2 Pro is a fine case, especially if you choose the MagSafe version, but it's very hard to justify paying this case's full retail price when you can pay less than half that for similar protection from Smartish's Gripzilla. If you dig the general design, we recommend choosing the Presidio2 Grip with MagSafe instead, since it adds extra grip and MagSafe support.
If you're the kind of person who wants an OtterBox Defender or its antimicrobial-laden sibling, the Defender Pro, we probably can't convince you otherwise, nor should we. The classic case---with its plastic frame, rubber exterior, and, yep, belt clip---feels like it'll hold up at a construction site or as a hockey puck. But if you're just commuting to work, walking the dog, or scrolling TikTok on the couch, it's overkill in terms of size, complexity, and price. And there's no MagSafe option.
OtterBox's Commuter is the company's least expensive case, and we didn't find it particularly impressive. The two-piece design, with a rubber inner layer and a plastic frame that snaps around it, is more fussy to install than we'd like, and it makes the phone bulky.
On the other end of the price spectrum, the Defender Pro XT with MagSafe is OtterBox's most expensive case---yet it suffers from some of the same problems. We found the installation process to be especially tough, and the case itself to be quite large. We like that it has MagSafe support, but we also think you're better off with one of the company's more middle-of-the-road options if you like the OtterBox look and feel.
The shape of the Moshi Arx makes it feel thick, even if it's not much larger than most of the cases we tested. Its distinctive carbon-fiber-style design may appeal to some, but that's the main reason to choose it over any of the other models here.
ESR's Classic Hybrid Case with HaloLock is totally clear all the way around and has protective air pockets in its corners. But its MagSafe system doesn't have the alignment line below the circle, so it won't work as well with some accessories.
The extended corners on ESR's Air Armor with HaloLock seemed like overkill to us, but if you want the feeling of extra security, we otherwise like it as much as the company's Classic Hybrid.
Incipio's Slim is fairly expensive, its buttons are too flush with the rest of the case, and we heard a rattling when using it, which suggested that the sizing was just a bit off.
Survivor's Clear is a pretty good, inexpensive option if you don't need or want MagSafe, but as with the other models in the Survivor case family, we wish it offered a more tactile separation between the volume up and down buttons.
SwitchEasy's MagCrush is actually a pretty good option if you want a transparent case with clear edges, but although it costs more than the ESR Classic Hybrid, it doesn't offer any obvious benefits over that model.
The clear Totallee Super Thin Case was rather tacky to the touch and showed a lot of prismatic distortion. We don't think it's worth $40.
We don't like that the lip on the Zagg Gear4 Crystal Palace Snap (also available without MagSafe) is more raised at the top and bottom and dips below the 1 mm height threshold along the sides. It's a small matter, for sure, but when a case costs this much, we expect the details to be right.
Moshi's Arx Clear is expensive for a clear case, and we find the one long continuous button protector inferior to split coverage; it's too easy to hit in the middle and accidentally do the opposite of what you're trying for.