If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
We all spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on our phones, so putting them in a sub-par case (or worse, no case at all) just makes no sense. These are intricately engineered pieces of tech that deserve some added protection — especially if your kids are playing with them. A damaged phone also declines in resale value, and the best protective phone cases can help keep yours in the most mint condition possible when it’s time to trade it in down the road.
What Are the Best Protective Phone Cases?
From screen protection to rugged materials, here’s everything you need to consider before purchasing your next phone case.
Material: Rubber provides a nice grip that’s not too thick, while leather can absorb some serious impact. If you know you’ll be around water or hazardous chemicals, a fully enclosed case is a must, as is a case made with materials that can stand up to intense damage.
Raised Bezel: A case that protrudes a few millimeters beyond your screen is significant too, for when your phone falls face-first onto a hard surface, and prevents it from directly hitting the flat floor. For phones with curved screens though, this design can block out some of the perimeter display, so be sure to go for a case that’s made with the sides in mind.
Overheating: If you’re putting your phone through intense strain, such as charging it up from zero while using a heavy, battery-draining app, a case that’s a little too insulating may cause the phone to shut down as a precautionary measure to prevent damage.
Fit: A snug case all-around can help prevent dirt, sand, moisture and pocket debris from creeping in between the case and the phone, or into the phone itself. Always go for a case that’s specifically designed for your phone, even if you think it’ll still fit. The main reason: Some cases can affect phone features like GPS and Qi wireless charging, interfering with the necessary signals, or worse, covering up important ports or camera lenses.
1. Speck Products Presidio Perfect-Clear
Speck carefully crafts a case’s design to contour to every type of smartphone, being careful not to block or impede anything important like lenses or sensors.
The raised bezel lip on this iPhone 12 case protects your screen when it falls, and the shock-absorbing body can withstand a drop from up to 13 feet. It’s also made with an antimicrobial treatment, claiming to reduce 99 percent of nasty stain and odor-causing bacteria from building up on the surface.
At only 0.023 ounces, this is a tough case that’s still stylish, won’t interfere with phone signals and comes in all sorts of colors for an array of phones.
2. Diverbox Waterproof Case
For an almost-everything-proof iPhone case, take a deep dive into the Diverbox. This hard-shell beast of a case fully covers your device and is IP68 waterproof (up to 10 feet deep for 30 minutes), shockproof, resistant to scratches, and won’t block the camera or charging port either.
It features an easy-to-carry design, and the hard plastic screen protector — something most cases don’t have — is still sensitive to touch while guarding against damage and dirt. For the amount of bulk added to the phone, it’s still pretty lightweight too, at just over 3 ounces.
3. Smartish Gripzilla
Even before opening the box, Smartish’s branding and packaging is a refreshing respite from the usual stuffiness of some of its competitors. The Austin, Texas-based company goes in a different direction, with clever copy and case names, packaging packed with fun surprises, and (most importantly) backs it all up with a quality product too.
The Gripzilla is, like the name suggests, extremely grippy for an iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. The texture along the edges features a grittiness that’s easy to pull out of even a tight pocket without dropping. There’s firm finger grooves for an easy hold, a thick, raised lip and it’s swift to take on and off. It’s compatible with wireless charging, and the company offers many models for iPhones, with some Galaxy S series cases as well.
4. Mous Limitless 3.0 Protective Case
This case’s raised lip guards your screen if it falls on its face, and buttons and ports are still easy to access, including cameras and wireless charging. Inside, your device rests against a comfortably soft felt material, and there’s space cut out for a spare SIM card too. There’s even one-way magnets built-in to help attach other devices like mounts and wallets. Mous makes cases for all sorts of phones, with timeless looks and a lifetime warranty.