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Published Oct. 5, 2021

Without sounding hyperbolic, it can be tough to survive without a smartphone in this day and age. We’ve all been there before: a quick drop and your phone is completely shattered, barely still functioning and leaving bits of glass everywhere you look. Whether you’re a loyal iPhone customer or a fiend for Androids, you’ll want to keep this crucial piece of technology safe.

While there are so many smartphone cases available on the market today, a few standout products can really make the difference in protecting your phone, while also letting your personality shine. We’ve chosen a few of our favorites so you don’t have to do the research.

How We Picked the Best Smartphone Cases

Methodology

As an iPhone user myself who tends to drop her phone at least once a day, I need a case that’s going to be super-protective yet also sleek enough to fit in my pocket or small purse. As such, I took into account a few criteria when choosing the best smartphone cases:

  • Brand: Some phone case brands have been around for a while, and prove that they know what they are doing. Others are newer to the industry but have brought their own unique innovations to the table. I chose multiple brands that have shown that they have solid products.
  • Drop Test: I looked for phone cases that feature military-grade drop protection or above, so you don’t have to worry about what will happen if your phone takes an accidental fall.
  • Slimness: Nobody wants to carry around bulky phone cases—which is why we want a sleek case that doesn’t skimp on safety. That’s why I chose cases (with the exception of the waterproof case, which is for specific scenarios) that will easily slide into your pocket and are as slim as possible.

Best Overall: OtterBox SYMMETRY SERIES Case

Ultrathin Protection

Coming from one of the most reputable phone case manufacturers on the market, OtterBox’s Symmetry Series features cases that are sleek, pocket-friendly, and protective. OtterBox

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Why It Made The Cut: We love how OtterBox continues to prove themselves time and again with their high-quality and durable designs, and the Symmetry Series in particular is slim enough for daily use. 

Specs: 

  • Compatibility: Most iPhones, Samsung, Google, Motorola, & LG phones
  • Material: Synthetic rubber, polycarbonate
  • Colors: Various solids and designs

Pros:

  • Reputable company
  • Easy on/off one-piece case
  • Raised edges on both sides protect screen and cameras
  • Can be used on a wireless charger

Cons:

  • Screen protector sold separately

While with so many options out there it’s tough to choose just one best overall smartphone case, the OtterBox Symmetry Series is tough to beat. OtterBox is known for creating ultra-protective phone cases that last, no matter how many times you accidentally drop your phone. With the Symmetry Series, they’ve used this technology and pivoted it to a phone case that is equal parts protective and stylish. 

Its sleek protection safeguards the phone and camera from falls and bumps, and its antimicrobial technology also protects the exterior of the case against many common bacteria. The one-piece design is thin and allows for it to be easily put on and taken off. Plus, the case is compatible with wireless charging and has a responsive button feel. 

This case is made to fit for recent versions of the majority of smartphones, including iPhones, Samsung, Google, Motorola, and LG. 

Best Value: ESR Air Armor Case for iPhone 13

Transparent & Affordable

Made with durable TPU, this phone case is designed to absorb shocks and resist scratches.
ESR

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Why It Made The Cut: This phone case has all the necessary protective measures needed to keep your phone safe and rings in at a ridiculously affordable price. 

Specs:

  • Compatibility: Most iPhones, Android, and Samsung Galaxy Phones
  • Material: Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)
  • Colors: Clear

Pros:

  • Works with new iPhone 13
  • Minimalist design to highlight your phone’s own design
  • Aligned cutouts allow easy access to your phone’s ports, speaker, and cameras
  • Slim design won’t add weightiness 

Cons:

  • Some people dislike the transparent case

You don’t have to spend a lot to protect your phone, even if you’re just purchased a new iPhone 13. The ESR Air Armor Case is made with durable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), the back is scratch-resistant while the four corners are made to absorb shocks effectively. The case also provides military-grade protection to the screen and camera are protected in case of a fall. The design is slim, so it still feels light in your hands or pockets. It also supports wireless charging.

he only thing to keep in mind is that this case features a transparent back with transparent or colored edges. While some people may love this aesthetic (like me!), others may prefer something that hides the back of the phone. 

Best Wallet: Vena vCommute Wallet Case

Multifunctional Safety

The Vena vCommute Wallet Case offers both functionality and protection in this patented product that features a hidden slot to safely secure credit cards while also doubling as a kickstand to beautifully display video. VENA

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Why It Made The Cut: Between the military-grade drop protection and the multifunctionality of the wallet section, we think this is a great pick for those looking for somewhere to stow their credit cards and IDs. 

Specs:

  • Compatibility: Most iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel Phones
  • Material: Polycarbonate, thermoplastic polyurethane, leather
  • Colors: Denim Blue, Blue, Rose Gold, Space Gray, and Slate Black

Pros:

  • Wallet case is Apple Pay friendly
  • Cutouts allow for great tactile feedback 
  • Lock stand is magnetic and offers multiple viewing angles 

Cons:

  • Only fits up to 3 cards in wallet
  • Doesn’t support wireless charging 

If you’re looking for a wallet case for your smartphone that isn’t clunky and still slides easily into your pocket, the Vena vCommute Case just might be the perfect option. The case is made out of premium polycarbonate and shock-absorbing thermoplastic polyurethane and has been tested to survive 26 drops from a four-foot height. 

The wallet stores up to three cards (like your credit cards, transportation cards, and IDs for example) in a secure and hidden manner on the back of the case. It has a multi-angle magnetic-lock stand that can fold into a kickstand and allow you to view videos on your phone with ease. The case is compatible with Apple Pay and wireless charging as long as the wallet flap is open. And finally, the wallet fabric flap works with magnetic car mounts, making it simple to route yourself wherever in the car! 

Best Eco-Friendly: Pela: Phone Case

100% Compostable and Biodegradable

Available in four lovely colors, this phone case is equal parts protective and safe for the environment. Pela

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Why It Made The Cut: We love how Pela, a B-Corps company, is disrupting the smartphone case industry by offering a biodegradable and eco-friendly option. 

Specs:

  • Compatibility: Most iPhones, Google Pixel, and Samsung
  • Material: Flaxstic (plant waste)
  • Colors: Black, Green, Honey Bee, & Ocean Turtle

Pros: 

  • Available in four unique color options
  • Free from BPA, lead, cadmium & phthalates
  • Completely plant-based and biodegradable
  • Shock-absorbent
  • Supports wireless charging

Cons:

  • Cases have been known to stain easily

If you’re worried about the environment and the excess of plastic on the planet, the Pela case is here to solve your woes. Even though phones themselves aren’t the most eco-friendly product, they are pretty much a requisite this day in age. That said, Pela – a B-Corps company that is also climate neutral certified – believes much of the harm that the phone industry creates can be counteracted by ensuring accessories like phone cases be 100 percent compostable and biodegradable. 

The case is made of flaxstic, which comes from the waste of flax straw and is completely plant-based and free of plastic. It biodegrades over time, is recyclable, and reduces your carbon footprint (by using a Pela case you eliminate the waste equivalent to 27 plastic bags!). And, in addition, the case offers protection: it has also been tested to have military-grade drop protection for up to 12 feet.

Best Waterproof: Hiearcool Universal Waterproof Case

For the Water Junkies

This scenario-specific 2-pack case is waterproof up to 100 feet and comes with a detachable lanyard to keep it close while undersea or on the ski slopes. Hiearcool

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Why It Made The Cut: While you should still get a case that fits your phone snugly, this is a great pouch for the outdoorsy type and will keep your tech safe when you find yourself in particularly wet situations. 

Specs:

  • Compatibility: All phones up to 7 inches, including iPhone, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Google
  • Material: PVC
  • Waterproof Level: IPX8

Pros:

  • Universal fit means it will hold all phones up to 7 inches
  • IPX8 certified waterproof up to 100 feet/30 meters
  • Includes a detachable lanyard (13.8 to 21 inches)
  • Snow-proof, sand-proof, waterproof, scratch-resistant, and has a secure seal

Cons:

  • This is a scenario-specific pouch and should not be used as a replacement to an everyday phone case
  • Pouch may not fit chunky phone cases

If you’re a snorkel lover or a ski bunny, chances are you’ve had to leave your phone away from the action in order to protect it. But now you can bring your tech with you and snap awesome action shots above or below the sea level thanks to the Hiearcool Universal Waterproof Case. 

This pouch holds all types of phones up to 7 inches and is IPX8 certified waterproof for up to 100 feet and up to 30 minutes fully submerged. Not only is it waterproof, it’s also snow-proof and sand-proof due to its secure seal that has two swivel switches on top. You’ll get two pouches with detachable lanyards. 

Keep in mind that this case should be used in addition to your everyday case, not as a replacement. Check if your current phone case will fit in the pouch (slim cases should fit fine), but if not, you can put your phone directly in the pouch and when you finish your underwater adventure, put your own phone case back on afterward. Note that when underwater, touch ID does not function and you should set your volume buttons to take photos or videos. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Smartphone Case

When you’re thinking about which new smartphone case to buy to cover your precious cargo, you should keep a few things  in mind.

Think about the design of the case and how that will affect your daily life. Your phone goes with you most places, so if you bring a small purse or slip your phone into your pocket most days, you’ll want to make sure the case is made to handle that accordingly. Think about whether you prefer ultrathin cases, thick ones, or something right in between. 

Same idea for versatilityif you hate handling a phone and a wallet at the same time, look for options that combine functions. If you are a fan of watching movies or clips on your phone but hate holding it to watch, find one with a rest that will support the phone so you can watch hands-free. 

Material is super-important since it has a direct impact on the level of protection provided. Look out for materials that are shock-absorbing, scratch-resistant, and/or offer military-grade drop protection. 
There are tons of smartphone cases on the market, meaning you can find designer options for hundreds of dollars and very inexpensive ones that will run you only a few bucks. Generally, cases in the $10-$35 dollar range will do the trick just make sure they have what you need.

FAQs

Q: Which is the most protective phone case?

There are many phone cases that offer great protection. OtterBox is a brand with multiple options that offer extreme protection. That said, any phone case that is made with premium materials and withstands or exceeds the military-grade drop protection test should work just fine for you.

Q: Where can I buy a trendy phone case?

All the options you could ever need (designs and colors galore!) can be found on Amazon, which also links to certain brands’ own pages that list out all of their products. Plus, they often ring in cheaper than buying a case in a local Verizon, Apple, or AT&T store.

Q: Do smartphone cases cover phone screens?

Some cases are built with a phone screen attached, but most cases do not include a phone screen. It is highly recommended to get a tempered glass phone screen that is cut to the dimensions of your phone for the best protection in addition to your case.

Final Thoughts

A protective phone case is essential to smartphone users around the world. Our favorite overall option is the OtterBox SYMMETRY SERIES Case, which is reputable and slim. If you’d like to help out the environment and reduce your plastic usage, try the Pela Phone Case.

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