The best protective iPhone cases for 2021

The best protective iPhone cases for 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 the $1,000 mark,  it’s safe to say replacing your device could hurt your bank balance.

Genuine Python Snakeskin iPhone 12 Case - White
Genuine Python Snakeskin iPhone 12 Case – White

Rather than risk damaging your phone and paying for a repair (or replacement phone) after the fact, why not take some preemptive action and select a case that will keep your iPhone safe no matter what? 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 — the only question is, which one will you pick?

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.

Protective cases can be sleek, too, as this transparent case from Gear4 shows. The Piccadilly case offers up to 10 feet (three 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


Genuine Snakeskin iPhone 12 Pro Max Case

Here’s a real snakeskin leather 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.


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. It’s 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 Stingray skin iPhone 7 cases

EVERWEEK Genuine Snakeskin 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 cut outs for the iPhone’s buttons, sensors, and cameras, and it’s compatible with wireless chargers. As an added bonus, it incorporates shock-absorbing edges and corners, giving you plenty of insurance against shocks and drops.

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-round case in its own right.

Photo shows the Rhinoshield SolidSuit case for the iPhone 11 Pro in a space themed print
This molded shell case is a very tight fit indeed, but that may be part of the reason that it offers such excellent protection. The frame extends at the back and front to protect your iPhone from drops of up to 11 feet. For most falls and bumps, this case will be enough, but there’s always a chance you’re unlucky with the way it lands, so consider pairing it with a screen protector. The bumper is smooth and curved but easy to grip, and you can choose from a variety of different finishes for the back, including carbon fiber, leather, wood, brushed steel, or a wide range of different artworks. You can also mix and match different button colors. The fit is perfect, but it can be a struggle to remove this case.


It’s not the toughest option on this list, but there are some very good reasons to pick this case outside of pure protection. Casetify’s Impact case comes in a variety of colors, like the sheer purple variant above, as well as a gorgeous and transparent Midnight Green. You can even customize your case with your choice of text — with multiple fonts and positions available — or your monogram or initials. Oh, and they also have an antimicrobial coating and offer superior protection, too, with drop protection up to 9.8 feet — which should be enough as long as you’re not really tall and don’t carry your phone on your head.


Many people consider Otterbox to be the gold standard when it comes to rugged protection for your iPhone, and the Defender Series Pro is the toughest case it offers. It boasts a layered design with a durable synthetic rubber slipcover surrounded by a polycarbonate shell with clean lines that enhance grip. Older versions of this case featured a built-in screen protector, but the iPhone 12 Pro version is “screenless” though you can combine it with a separate screen protector. You’ll also find covers to keep lint and dirt out of your ports and a holster with a belt clip that can double as a stand. The button covers are well defined and make the buttons easy to press. Otterbox puts these cases through 24 different tests, for a total of 238 hours of testing, so you can be confident about the drop protection. This case also offers OtterArmor Microbial Defense to guard against germs. It comes in teal, black, red, blue, or a cool camouflage design.


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.


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 eight feet up to 26 times with no damage — and it comes with a 10-year limited warranty if it doesn’t perform to standard.


One of our favorite iPhone cases by any measure, the Speck Presidio2 Grip is also 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 currently 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.


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.


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 it also comes in black, cerulean, or orange.


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’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’re 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.

If your iPhone’s battery isn’t enough for your phone on its own, then this battery case from Alpatronix should provide you with all the extra juice you need. It comes with a 5,000mAh battery, more than doubling the capacity of your iPhone. Importantly, it uses a Lightning connector, enabling you to plug Lightning accessories into it in order to sync data, charge, or listen to music via earphones. Aside from provide an extra battery, it also offers very sturdy protection, including raised bezels that protect the phone’s touchscreen, cameras, and ports. It can also be recharged using a wireless charger, which can be used to charge the case and your iPhone at the same time.


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.


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.

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 TPU bumpers around its edges and corners. 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. 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.


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.

Here’s a chic decorated case that happens to be slim, lightweight, and pretty protective. Its 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.


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.

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