iPhone owners have thousands of potential cases to choose from. Some are slim and protect your phone without adding weight or bulk; others incorporate extra features such as pockets at the expense of size and shape. This week, we're going to look at five of the best iPhone cases, based on reader nominations.
Photo by Miki Yoshihito
Otterbox's history of making great cases for all types of phones is well-established. 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 armoured protection on all sides. It definitely adds a little bulk to your phone, but if you regularly use your phone while hiking or biking, you'll appreciate the extra protection. The Commuter is a trimmer design where 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.
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 personalisation and designer looks. Readers highlighted the Case-Mate Tough series, which do a good job at keeping your phone in good condition without breaking the bank or adding a stack of bulk to the device. There are varying designs in the series for iPhone 4/4S and 5 users. All of these cases are available in blanks, if you want to use Case-Mate's I Make My Case customisation service.
Twelve South's products for the Mac and iPhone are some of the most well-crafted and design-forward accessories you'll find. The BookBook is 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. 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 even a hole for your camera, so you can use it with the case on (although that will 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.
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 lot of bulk to your phone. They're made of tough synthetic rubber, and are available for virtually every iPhone model (3G/3GS/4/4S/5), in a variety of colours. All of the Magpul 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 rubberised 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
Diffr3nt Wallet and Slim Cases
Diffr3nt is a small, Kickstarter-funded company out of Connecticut with a highly active fan base. The company makes two types of cases, the Wallet and the Slim Case. As the names imply the Slim is designed to offer protection to your iPhone without adding a lot 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.
Honourable mentions this week go out to Speck Cases, specifically the PixelSkin HD, which is available for a variety of devices. It's a soft, rubberised case that protects your device's back and sides without obstructing any of the ports. Also worth 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. We also want to give a shout-out to the well-regarded Switcheasy Case and to the Australian-designed Opena, which adds a built-in bottle opener.
This is definitely a competitive field. If you have an iPhone case you couldn't live without, tell us why in the comments.