The best protective iPhone cases for 2020

Simon Hill

Even though iPhones are relatively durable, dropping yours on a hard surface or directly on the screen can mean a costly repair or replacement.

Rather than paying to repair a cracked screen after the fact, it’s better to pre-empt a drop and pick out a case that will protect your iPhone. While some phone cases are more aesthetic than practical, some are incredibly durable. If keeping your phone free of any dents, scratches, and cracks is your goal, then we’ve got you covered.

Ghostek Atomic Slim Case

Ghostek isn’t a household name, but that won’t be the case forever if it keeps on producing cases this good. The Atomic Slim case for the iPhone is a slim case with a lot of brawn to back it up. It’s made from a shock-absorbent TPU inner core with a strong polycarbonate back panel, and finished off with a lightweight but tough aluminum frame. It offers drop protection up to an impressive 12 feet (3.6 meters), and comes with a raised bezel to increase that protection even further by keeping your display and camera lenses away from dirt and grit. While bulkier than a standard gel case, this case is one of the slimmest options that still offers serious protection.

$40 from Adorama

Gear4 Platoon Drop Case

Drops are potentially the most devastating hazards for iPhones, so why not buy a case specially designed to resist impact damage? Gear4’s Platoon case is the most protective in Gear4’s range, and boasts drop protection up to an incredible 20 feet (6 meters). That’s higher than a second-story window. How does it do this? Gear4 uses a material called D3O, which is well known for its impact resistance, and is even used by the military and professional athletes to guard against concussive force. The Platoon case uses a large amount of this material, and is fairly bulky as a result, especially when combined with the tough outer bumper. Just in case all that protection wasn’t enough, it also comes with a holster and belt clip, making this the convenient protective case of choice for anyone who likes their phone within easy reach.

$40 from Adorama

Speck Presidio Grip Case

One of our favorite iPhone cases by any measure, the Speck Presidio Grip is also pretty rugged. It can withstand drops up to 13 feet and is capable of handling falls and bumps thanks to the special Impactium interior that’s designed to compress and disperse shocks. A matte finish enables the case to resist scratches, while the raised rubber ridges on top of the hard shell 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 an 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.

$40 from Adorama

Urban Armor Gear Monarch Case

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

$40 from Adorama

Incipio Aerolite Case

Incipio’s cases are very protective — something that’s reflected in the Incipio case-making process — and the Aerolite is one of its finest. The Aerolite case is made from a scratch-resistant hard outer shell that comes in a variety of colors and styles, fused to the flexibile, ribbed soft core made from Incipio’s special FortiCore material. The FortiCore inner is extremely shock-resistant and can absorb the impact energies of drops up to 11 feet, keeping your iPhone safe from some serious damage. Precise openings mean no interuptions to your usual use, and it works perfectly with wireless charging and Apple Pay. However, a screen protector is advised if you want full protection.

$40 from Adorama

Mous Contour Case

A lot of case manufacturers struggle to make rugged cases that look attractive, but not Mous. The new Contour line with its textured leather back is truly stylish, the cut is distinctive and original, and Mous has achieved this without comprising 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.

$40 from Adorama

Catalyst Impact Protection Case

Catalyst Impact Protection Case

This case offers drop protection from falls of up to 9.9 feet (3 meters) and it has a distinctive, practical design that will keep your iPhone safe from harm. A raised bezel ensures your screen never touches down and the case comes with a wrist lanyard that helps to prevents any drops from happening in the first place. Catalyst is known for its waterproof cases, which is where the dial design for the on/off switch originated. Catalyst does also still offer a waterproof case, though there isn’t as much need with the latest iPhones being IP68 rated, and it doesn’t offer as much drop protection as this rugged case. It will also keep dust and debris at bay. You can get this case in black, red, blue and orange, or clear varieties.

$40 from Adorama

Tech21 Evo Check Case

Tech21 Evo Check case

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 X 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.

$40 from Adorama

Otterbox Defender Series Pro Case

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 11 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.

$40 from Adorama

Case-Mate Tough Groove Case

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.

$40 from Adorama

Lifeproof Frē Case

The iPhone 11 Pro is Apple’s most water-resistant phone yet, but that doesn’t mean you want to expose it to the elements. If you need complete coverage, then this Lifeproof case is worth a look. It scores an IP68 rating, which means it can be submerged in water up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) deep for up to one hour without leaking. This case is also tough, meeting military drop-test standard 810G-516.6, so your phone should also be unscathed after falls from as high as 6.6 feet. You get complete coverage with this case, and it features a built-in screen cover, so no part of your iPhone is exposed to the elements. It’s ideal for skiing, and other adventures in harsh or wet conditions.

$40 from Adorama

Griffin Survivor Extreme Case

Griffin Survivor Extreme case for iPhone 11 Pro

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 at up to 15 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. 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.

$40 from Adorama

Spigen Tough Armor 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 button 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.

$40 from Adorama

RhinoShield SolidSuit Case

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.

$40 from Adorama

Casetify Impact Case

Casetify Impact 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 finishes, including the iredescent variant above, the extremely extra Exxxtra variant with free-flowing colors, a marble-style, and more. You can even customize your case with your choice of text, with multiple fonts and positions available, or a range of colorful floral and animal prints. Oh, and they’re quite protective too, with drop protection up to 6.6 feet — which should be enough, as long as you’re not really tall and don’t carry your phone on your head.

$40 from Adorama