There are just too many iPhone cases in the world. I
mean, we get it…they're inexpensive to manufacture with a big
markup, and the potential market is in the tens of millions with
each new iPhone generation. Nearly everybody puts some
kind of case on their phone because it's just too easy to scuff,
scratch, or shatter that thousand-dollar pocket supercomputer.
But what case should you buy? Are they all essentially the same,
and you should just buy the one that looks the way you want at a
good price? Or are some cases really truly better than others? We
got a few dozen cases in to put them to the test, so we
could recommend products based on more than just their web photos.
So if you don't see anything that strikes your fancy just yet, stay
tuned because we'll be adding to it as we test more.
What to look for when buying an iPhone case
Obviously, the aesthetics of a case are critical. Really, your
iPhone isn't going to look like what Apple designed, it's going to
look like the case you stuck it in. But case design is a very
personal thing, so we're not going to pass judgment on it. You know
what you like, right?
Aside from a case's look, there are several other important
factors worth considering. Here's what we looked for with every
case we tested.
Craftsmanship: We can't really test longevity
without using each case for several months at least, but we
can tell you if it fits precisely, if the seams and gaps
have tight tolerances, and so on.
Buttons/Cutouts: It's surprising how many cases
have really stiff and hard-to-press buttons, or whose buttons don't
line up exactly right. Cases with cut-outs instead of buttons need
them to be the right size and shape for comfortable and reliable
operation. And while it's not technically a button, the cutout for
operating the iPhone 13's mute switch is of critical importance, as
are the cutouts for the Lightning port and speakers.
Charging: Some cases (like wallet cases) aren't
even meant to work with wireless chargers, and that's fine. But for
those that are, we try it out on several wireless pads and stands
to make sure they work reliably. We also make sure the Lightning
port is easy to access no matter what cable you use.
With those test criteria in mind, here are some recommended
iPhone 13 cases from the many we've tested, along with a few you
should probably stay away from.
There are so many cases, with so many gimmicks
and unique features, that it's hard to say what a standard case
really is anymore. For the sake of this roundup, this category is a
catch-all for cases that don't explicitly fit in the other
categories. They're not thin, rugged, or wallet cases, but they
could have unique features like stands, integrated PopSockets,
MagSafe magnets, and so on.
ZAGG Gear4 Cases
ZAAG's iPhone 13 Series lineup includes cases compatible with MagSafe and non-MagSafe devices. Here we've chosen some of the MagSafe compatible ones. The new iPhone 13 lineup features an antimicrobial treatment that acts to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. By doing so, ZAGG claims the Gear4 cases are better guarded against degradation over time.
ZAGG Gear4 Denali Snap (iPhone 13; AU$69.95) - This MagSafe compatible case has serious drop protection - 16 feet (5 metres) and includes a no-slip grip and textured finish.
ZAGG Gear4 Santa Cruz Snap (iPhone 13; AU$59.95) - A transparent, scratch-resistant MagSafe compatible case that features D30 impact protection material in its edges.
ZAGG Gear4 Crystal Palace Snap (iPhone 13 Pro; AU$59.95) - A sleek transparent MagSafe compatible case made from D30 Crystalex for durability. ZAGG claims it is resistant to yellowing and dye transfer.
Craftsmanship: Apple sells three of its own
iPhone 13 cases: this leather one, the Silicone Case, and the Clear Case. They're all top notch, but a little
pricey. The leather case is nicest, if you don't mind real leather.
It doesn't feel too leathery…there's a nice firmness and rigidity
to it. And over time, the wear will make it look even better. You
can't go wrong with the official Apple cases, but they're not
specialized–neither ultra-thin nor extra rugged, and with no
special features other than MagSafe.
Buttons: The buttons work flawlessly, retaining
the full clicky feel and even the size and shape of a naked
iPhone's buttons. The mute switch cutout is quite small, but
tapered and perfectly positioned, so it's not hard to use. The only
real problem is that the cutout for the Lightning port can be a bit
of a tight fit on the larger third-party Lightning connectors.
Charging: We had no problem with any wireless
chargers we tried using Apple's cases, with the obvious exception
that the huge camera bump on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max can
sometimes get in the way. All Apple's cases support MagSafe,
meaning that they have a ring of magnets in them to help MagSafe
accessories stick on tightly.
Craftsmanship: Spigen sells several cases with
Ultra Hybrid branding–a plain one, one with MagSafe, and this one
with a built-in stand. They're all quite similar. They're thin but
not excessively so, and clear with optional colored bands. The
fold-out stand seems fairly well built and snaps in and out with a
satisfying click. It'll hold your iPhone 13 up reliably in either
Buttons: The buttons all work reliably. They
have a little bit of a spongey feel (as most clear plastics seem
to), but they're not too stiff. The cutouts for the mute switch,
speakers, and Lightning port are all aligned well and sized
Charging: The model with the stand won't really
work right with most wireless chargers unless it's small enough to
fit between the stand and the camera bump. The other Ultra Hybrid
models we tested work fine with every wireless charger we tried,
and the MagSafe model has nice strong magnets.
Craftsmanship: An alternative to Apple's Clear
Case that is in some ways better than the official Apple product,
and certainly less expensive. It's not quite as finely crafted as
Apple's own case but fits really well, and the textured sides make
it a lot easier to grip. The Gripmunk case comes in a variety of
colors, and you can get it with or without MagSafe, but it's the
clear one (Nothin to hide) with MagSafe that stands out, in part
because Apple's Clear Case has such a stiff feel and slick texture.
And it's half the price.
Buttons: The buttons work fine. They're easy to
locate by touch and not hard to press, though you lose a little of
that click feel compared to a naked iPhone. The cutout for the mute
switch is just slightly off-center but not enough to affect its
use, and the cutouts for the Lightning port and speakers are
Charging: MagSafe attraction is rock solid, and
we had no problems using any wireless charger in our test suite.
This case is technically MagSafe Compatible and not Made for MagSafe but
all that means here is that you don't get the little animation when
you first put the case on your iPhone.
Craftsmanship: Speck is one of those brands you
can reliably find in many retail stores, but you might want to
expand your search a little. This case is okay, but feels a little
chintzy for something that costs at much as Apple's official cases.
The whole thing feels like low-grade plastic, and the lip on the
top edge halfway covers the earpiece hole because Speck didn't make
a little cutout there as many other manufacturers do. For the
price, you should expect more.
Buttons: The buttons are well-positioned, feel
good, and are easy to click. The speaker and Lightning cutouts are
fine, but the cutout for the mute switch is badly misaligned. You
can operate the switch, but it's not what you'd expect from a
Charging: This case is MagSafe Compatible (not
Made for MagSafe) so it adheres strongly to all
MagSafe accessories and chargers. We got a good solid charging
connection with all the wireless chargers we tried, and had no
problem getting any of our third-party Lightning connectors to
Craftsmanship: This is a relatively plain case,
perfectly average in size and shape. Its claim to fame is that it
is made from 100% vegetable-based plastic and is fully compatible
(in industrial composting facilities, not your backyard compost
pile). The fit is okay, and it has an interesting look; sort of
faux-distressed as if to emphasize its green cred. But there's not
a lot interesting or unique here beyond the environmental aspect.
The raised edge around the screen isn't thick enough to obscure the
top earpiece speaker.
Buttons: The side button is too stiff, but the
volume buttons depress easily and retain their clicky feel a bit.
The cutouts for the mute switch, speakers, and Lightning port are
positioned properly and sized well.
Charging: We had no problems getting a good
charge on any of our wireless chargers, and all our third-party
Lightning connectors fit just fine.
A super-thin case is all about adding as little bulk and weight
to your iPhone 13 as possible. The iPhone 13 is a heavy phone,
especially the Pro models, so you'd be forgiven for not wanting to
make it heavier still. A thin case necessarily offers only minimal
drop protection; they're really made to function as a sort of skin
that's easy to take on or off, saving your expensive phone from
scuffs and scratches. Thin cases have the benefit of working great
with wireless charging (usually), but on the iPhone 13 Pro you'll
see a pretty big lip around that huge camera bump, which can get in
the way a little. Some are even so thin that they barely interfere
with MagSafe accessories, despite not technically being MagSafe
Totallee iPhone 13 Pro Case
Today:US$39 / AU$53 at Totallee |US$39 / AU$53 at Amazon
Craftsmanship: Totallee makes some of our
favorite ultra-thin cases. They're precision cut to fit well, but
don't have any sharp edges. Cutouts for the silence switch,
speakers, and Lightning port are just right. Super-thin cases don't
afford a lot of drop protection, but they're great for keeping
scratches and scuffs off without adding a lot of bulk.
Buttons: Button action is perfect. You still
get that clicky feel and don't have to exert any extra
Charging: As a super-thin case, there's a
significant lip around the camera bump, especially on the iPhone 13
Pro models. There has to be. That can get in the way of some
charging stands or mounts, which is more Apple's fault than
Totallee's. Otherwise, they're so thin as to not interfere with
wireless charging at all. We were even able to use some MagSafe
accessories well because the case is so thin, despite these not
being Magsafe-compatible cases.
Craftsmanship: This straddles the line between
a standard-size case and a thin case. Spigen says it has air
cushion technology to help protect your iPhone from drops, but
let's face it, no case this thin is going to offer really
great drop protection. The grippy back is nice, but the
edges of that back pattern aren't as smooth as they could be. The
main draw here is that this is a super affordable case, and for the
price, it's not half bad. The top lip of the case partially covers
the earpiece, though not enough to have an impact on how it
Buttons: The buttons on this case have slits
cut along the edges, making them quite easy to depress. The cutouts
for the mute switch, speakers, and Lightning port are
Charging: Works fine with every wireless
charger we tried, though as with most thin cases, the substantial
lip around the camera bump can make placement tricky on some
chargers or stands. However, this case isn't quite thin enough to
work with MagSafe accessories.
Craftsmanship: Spigen's Thin Fit is the same
affordable price as the Liquid Air, but we like it a little better
and it comes in more color options. The smooth finish feels better
in the hand, and the case is even thinner and more comfortable in
the hand. The upper lip has a little near-imperceptible groove cut
to make sure the earpiece isn't obstructed, which we appreciate.
Our one complaint is the slight seam running down the sides where
the colored back piece meets the matte black front piece.
Buttons: Like the Liquid Air, the buttons have
cutouts along the sides that make them easier to press, and the
cutouts for the mute switch, speakers, and Lightning port are
positioned and sized well.
Charging: No problems working with any wireless
charger we tried, outside of Apple's huge camera bump occasionally
getting in the way. This case is thin enough that some MagSafe
accessories held fast, which you can't really say about the Liquid
If you're especially rough on your iPhone, you probably want a
rugged case. These are ideal for people who work in rough
environments, but they're useful for anyone who drops their phone a
lot, or has a nosy and rambunctious toddler, or goes fishing all
the time, or puts their phone in situations where it could break
Rugged cases are often thick and bulky, and therefore you can
expect them not to work very well with most wireless chargers, if
they work at all. Button action is also especially important in
these cases, as the thicker designs often make buttons stiff and
hard to press.
Craftsmanship: Another Spigen case we're not
big fans of. It's more tough-looking than actually tough. The back
looks like metal, but that's just plastic. The little
flip-out kickstand is a chintzy piece of plastic we could easily
bend, and will almost certainly snap off or crack in due time. And
what's the point of a rugged durable case with a huge hole in the
back to show the Apple logo? I'm sure a case this thick offers nice
impact resistance, but it doesn't seem very well made.
Buttons: The rubberized buttons work
surprisingly well for such a thick case, but we can't get over how
badly misaligned the cutout for the mute button is.
Charging: The Lightning port cutout is big
enough for even larger third-party cables. And while most
ruggedized cases don't work with wireless chargers, this one
actually did work with a few of our better ones, thanks to the fact
that it only looks metallic but is actually all plastic.
I'm sure the big hole around the Apple logo helps, too.
Craftsmanship: This is not quite a big and
thick as some other rugged cases, but that's not necessarily a bad
thing. The scalloped and textured sides give you a serious grip,
and there's enough heft here to provide good drop protection. The
front lip is substantial, with a cutout on the top edge so as not
to block the top earpiece. The whole case has a slightly sandpapery
texture that really does make it easy to grip even with wet or
Buttons: Somehow, this thicker case has buttons
that feel less stiff than Smartish's other cases. They
have a nice distinct and clicky feel. Cutouts for the mute switch,
Lightning port, and speakers are generous.
Charging: This is a MagSafe compatible case,
which means it has a ring of magnets in the back to make MagSafe
accessories adhere strongly, and they really work great. We got a
pretty solid wireless charging connection to all the chargers we
Craftsmanship: Raptic says their case is tested
to withstand 10-foot drops onto concrete, a claim we're not about
to try verifying. But the case is quite rigid and has an aluminum
frame with a rubber bubble pattern on the inside edges, and the
clear plastic back is rigid and hard. It's not as bulky as some
other ruggedized cases but definitely adds considerable heft to
your iPhone 13.
Buttons: The thick sides with generous spacing
are great for shock absorption but make it hard to do good buttons.
They're only slightly stiff, but the little dimple isn't enough to
easily find the button locations by touch. They're lined up well,
and the cutouts for the mute switch, Lightning port, and speakers
Charging: The back is just clear, rigid plastic
and doesn't interfere with most wireless chargers. But it's a
little thick, and finicky or weak chargers had trouble finding good
alignment. If you have a good wireless charger, you'll be fine.
Third-party Lightning connectors that are larger than Apple's had
no problem with the generous cutout around the port.
In an increasingly tap-to-pay world, there's less reason to
carry around a bunch of stuff in your wallet. Apple's even making
state IDs and driver's licenses available in iOS 15 (in supporting
states). If you only need to carry around a couple of cards, a
wallet case case be a great idea. Yeah, these tend to be bigger and
thicker cases, but that can be a small price to pay to not carry
around a separate wallet.
Almost none of these cases will work with wireless chargers.
They're too thick because of the card holder, and they need
magnetic protection to stop the MagSafe magnets in the back of your
iPhone 13 from messing up the magnetic strip on your credit or
debit cards. Their added bulk makes button action especially
important, much like rugged cases.
Note that we're not covering MagSafe wallet attachments
here, only fully cases that have wallet or card-carrying features.
If you want a sometimes-wallet, perhaps a MagSafe compatible case
and wallet sleeve attachment is a better choice for you.
Craftsmanship: Spigen typically makes pretty
good products, but they blew it with this one. This is supposed to
be a slim but rugged case with a slide-open compartment on the back
to hold two or three credit cards, IDs, or a few folded-up bills.
But the sliding compartment is a little chintzy, and worse, there's
only a thin piece of rubber separating it from the back of your
iPhone. The back of your iPhone that is full of magnets. If you put
a credit card in this case, you're just begging for the magnetic
strip to be erased. Yikes. We don't live in a chip-and-pin
card-only society yet; this is a huge design failure.
Buttons: As it does on some other cases, Spigen
has cutouts along the sides of its buttons to make them easier to
press. And the cutouts around the mute switch, speakers, and charge
port are on point.
Charging: As you might expect, this case
doesn't work at all with wireless chargers. The Lightning port is
Craftsmanship: Smartish sells two versions of
this case: Vol. 1 with a smooth hard back and Vol. 2 with a textured pocket. They both hold
about four cards (or maybe three and a bit of cash) in a nice
sleeve that holds cards securely but makes them easy to remove.
They fit the iPhone 13 well, with a cutout on the top lip so as not
to block the top speaker. There's a critical flaw in both of them,
though–there's nothing but a thin strip of slicone between the
cards and your iPhone 13, which is loaded with magnets. You're
begging for your card's magnetic stripe to be erased if you use
this thing. Maybe they should have called it Card Slayer. It's a
shame, because it's otherwise a decent case at a good price. If you
only plan to use cards with no magnetic strip (or cash), it's not a
Buttons: The buttons are slightly stiff, but
it's not nearly the worst we've seen. The cutouts for the mute
switch and Lightning port are generous and centered well.
Charging: As with most wallet cases, there's
just too much material in the back to work well with a wireless
charger and you definitely should not even try to use it
as such with credit cards inserted.
Craftsmanship: You probably shouldn't expect
too much from a $30 case that has a whole wallet and wrist
strap and body strap, but Smartish's unique Dancing Queen is
slightly better built than you'd think. Of course, nothing here
even remotely resembles real leather, but it fits your phone well,
and the flap to hold your cards and cash (up to five cards plus a
few bills) is sized right and works well. There doesn't appear to
be any protection from your iPhone 13's ring of magnets, so it
could erase the magnetic stripe on any cards you put in there, but
there's a bit more material than in some other wallet cases. Still,
it's impossible to recommend a wallet case that isn't shielded to
protect magnetic stripes on cards.
Buttons: The buttons are a little on the stiff
side, but still work reliably. The cutout for the mute switch is
large enough to operate it easily.
Charging: This wallet case has even more wallet
slapped onto the back than most, so wireless charging is definitely
going to work–even when there are no cards in it.