SLIM - Spigen Thin Fit
- RUNNER-UP - ESR Slim TPU
KICKSTAND - ESR Kickstand
- RUNNER-UP - Spigen Ultra Hybrid S
CLEAR - OtterBox Traction Series
- RUNNER-UP - Catalyst Impact Protection
GRIP - Silk Base Grip
- RUNNER-UP - Speck Presidio Grip
TOUGH - RhinoShield SolidSuit
- RUNNER-UP - Mous Limitless 2.0
LEATHER - Nodus Shell II
- RUNNER-UP - Mujjo Full Leather
DESIGN - Casetify Impact
- RUNNER-UP - Laut Tutti Fruitti
FOLIO - Twelve South SurfacePad
- RUNNER-UP - Nodus Access Case III
WALLET - Nomad Rugged Tri-Folio
- RUNNER-UP - Apple Leather Folio
CARD - VRS Design Damda Folder
- RUNNER-UP - Silk Wallet Vol. 1
MODULAR - Distil Union Stick-On
- RUNNER-UP - PopSockets PopWallet
SLIM: Spigen Thin Fit ($11)
My favorite slim case for the past few iPhones, it's a super thin hard shell case but it's the matte black finish that gets me every time. It's soft, grippy, and I just want to touch it all day. The case is so slim you barely even notice it's there. What really counts is it makes the whole phone bearable to hold - if you're single, this case is all you need, because it's like holding a tushy, it's oddly addicting.
There is a raised camera lip to keep your lens from direct contact. Otherwise, just a thin bezel around the front screen, don't buy this case expecting a savor. It'll take very light drops, nothing more. You want it for that soft matte texture so if you're looking to stay as slim as possible but still want that extra grip, this is it. As an added bonus, the inside has a little area to store a metal plate for your fancy car docks, like being an amazing slim case wasn't enough on its own.
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RUNNER-UP: ESR TPU Case ($13)
My runner up is for those who like to flaunt their money because the ESR Slim TPU Case will do just that. A single piece of flexible rubber and nothing but a clear view. The inside consists of a dot matrix that helps prevent that watermarking effect while still allowing that infamous Apple logo to shine through.
Otherwise, the case is as expected for a slim piece of rubber. Buttons are covered and it's super slim. It has a glossy finish, so something to keep in mind for you hand sweaters. It's so thin that it doesn't make holding your phone any harder. There's a camera lip, but otherwise, don't expect anything more than that. It'll provide scratch resistance at most so I highly recommend pairing your favorite screen protector with it but that's just the tradeoff for slim cases.
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KICKSTAND: ESR Kickstand ($20)
The ESR Kickstand Case takes the crown thanks to the hunk of metal around back. The case consists of 2 pieces with a matte texture hard plastic shell and rubber sleeve inside that so it won't grease up or show off your sweaty fingers as easily.
The metal kickstand is the real winner though. It slides open with friction, holds in place fairly well, and when stood in landscape mode, it can be adjusted to different angles thanks to the stiff arm that holds the weight of the phone in place. If you're into FaceTime calls, then yes, it can be used in portrait mode too.
The sides of the case offer slight texture, it's not game-changing, but nice to have for your fingers to feel up. The rest of the case is as expected, buttons covered, proper port cutouts, and protection where it counts thanks to the hard shell combined with the thick lip around front.
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RUNNER-UP: Spigen Ultra Hybrid S ($15)
For those who love all things naked then you'll love the runner-up Spigen Ultra Hybrid S Case. A hard shell clear back so you can be sure everyone knows you're part of the herd. Another metallic stand, albeit slightly smaller in this case.
The kickstand is spring loaded and can only be held in a single position. It does the job just fine, plus, the magnet closure is just fun to fidget with. The case is slim, buttons are clicky but also offer pretty thick lips around the camera and the front screen. Combine that with their air pocket corners, it can take a bit of abuse when it's not propped up for a Netflix and chill session.
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CLAER: OtterBox Traction Series ($40)
Now for those who want a dedicated clear case, I'm going with the new OtterBox Traction Series Case. It's a combination of the speckled rubber edge and grippy texture that takes it home for myself. I also think it looks pretty awesome.
Sporting a thick piece of clear plastic around back to show off all things iPhone, it just feels really good to hold - I highly recommend popping into the Apple Store and feeling one yourself, because that's the only way you'll understand how great it feels.
The case is standard OtterBox fashion, thick everything, a lip around the camera, enough rubber you won't need one tonight, and plenty to keep your screen lifted too. They've integrated air pockets throughout the edges inside the case, an effective drop protection solution without adding on any bulk. This is OtterBox's slimmest case I've tested and it's the best they've made to date in my opinion.
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RUNNER-UP: Catalyst Impact Protection ($40)
This was my previous favorite clear case but is still in my rotation of daily cases. The Catalyst Impact Protection Case has a similar hard shell clear back and it does a damn good job at showing it all off. They have a truss cushioning pattern built into their edges and I can confidently say it can take a beating after my dedicated review of it.
It doesn't have the best camera coverage, the buttons are textured but not raised, and they've got a fancy twist mute dial - it's fun to fidget with, but may annoy the person next to you. The best part is the soft matte flat edges that make holding your iPhone XS (even better with the larger iPhone XS Max) much easier.
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GRIP: Silk Base Grip ($12)
Grip cases are the most universal for anyone because we all sort of suck at holding phones. The Silk Base Grip Case has an all-around sandpaper texture feeling around the edges of the case that solves the issue without breaking the bank.
It's a flexible thin piece of rubber with a matte texture all around and it's a fairly thin case too. You feel confident holding this case and it doesn't grease up so it doesn't feel like you're holding a slimy phone. The rest of the case is simple, buttons covered, lens raised too, but not super protective, which I think is fine. It's so grippy, the point is you'll never drop it. It does have a decent screen lip and even comes with a free screen protector, nothing special, but something is better than nothing.
That's what makes this my favorite grip case, value - it's affordable, comes with exactly what you need, a case to keep you covered and not drop your phone.
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RUNNER-UP: Speck Presidio Grip ($40)
Although costing more, this one is another one of my trusted go-to cases. The Speck Presidio Grip Case has raised rubber edges around the whole backside, providing all the grip you want. It may not visually be for everyone, but I like the design, but I understand if you don't dig cool geometrically symmetrical looking cases.
Speck has integrated their Impactium protection into the case as well, consisting of this thick rubber lip around the front and molded into the corners too. There's also a air pocket pattern along the inside which means it offers great protection just in case you really have butter fingers for days.
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TOUGH: RhinoShield SolidSuit ($30)
The RhinoShield SolidSuit Case pick is a close call but mainly comes down to cost. These cases are a single piece of rubber that's lined in RhinoShield's ShockSpread Technology, designed to withstand over 11 ft. drops. We've tested it extensively and have to agree.
I love their classic black but it does come in a variety of styles, colors, and designs. The cases are surprisingly slim for being able to handle all that abuse. The buttons are also removable and can be swapped for different colors to get accomplish a completely different look.
It sports a thick lip around the front and makes a very well-rounded case on its own. If you add on their impact screen protectors then you've got 360 degrees of protection you can count on to keep your phone protected no matter how clumsy you are.
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RUNNER-UP: Mous Limitless 2.0 ($40)
You're paying more for the Mous Limitless Case 2.0 but you're some real back materials such as bamboo, walnut, and leather. Plus of course, they're amazing drop protection. It's got some bulk on it, but they lower the edges along the center of the case where the fingers sit while leaving plenty on the top and bottom to keep your screen safe.
Holding your phone isn't a hassle and combined with their Airoshock magic goop along the inside of the case that does all the work for you. That's not all, the back side has 4 magnets strategically placed to not interfere with wireless charging, but can accommodate their add-on accessories such as a car mount or card pocket.
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LEATHER: Nodus Shell II ($65)
Dedicated leather cases are for you fancy folk and my favorite going to the Nodus Shell case because if you love leather, then you can appreciate that texture of the leather used. A simple leather wrapped shell, it's very slim, as grippy as full grain vegetable tanned leather can be, and the case just works.
It's really just for the beauty around back but Nodus also includes their updated Micro Docks. A strip of magnet that sticks to a wall with the 3M tape and it's super magnets mount your phone up for a hands-free experience.
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RUNNER-UP: Mujjo Full Leather ($45)
The Mujjo Full Leather case doesn't have the same texture but their leather is just as sweet. A smooth soft finish, it doesn't have that durable and tough feel but instead opts for a more sophisticated, simple, and clean finish.
Similar in design, slim, just as grippy, and offers the same level of protection for a simple slim shell. They claim the inside is lined in the finest Japanese microfiber and if you love your iPhone, you'd know it deserves nothing less.
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BUY AT MUJJO:
DESIGN: Casetify Impact ($45)
The Casetify Impact Cases have a whole back panel design combined with their impact goop on the inside making this not only a very stylish case but also still a protective one. Looking cool doesn't have to mean sacrificing style.
The edges are rubberized and although glossy, are still comfortable to grasp onto. It's the backside that counts though, you can pretty much have any custom stylish case thanks to Casetify printing service, which might I add, is some of the finest print jobs I've ever scratch tested.
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RUNNER-UP: Laut Tutti Fruitti ($30)
This one is a funky one, in looks and in... smell? The Laut Tutti Fruitti Case (awesome name right?!) is a very simple TPU case but make the list thanks to the banana on the back. It actually smells like a banana.
They use friction activated scents, so scratching the fruit on the back will actually make it smell like the fruit. It's a scented case but only when you want it to be, so you don't always smell like an Asian supermarket. The cases themselves are very slim, provide barely any protection outside of scratch resistance.
Who cares if it sucks at protection though. Sure, the scent may run out over time, but these fantastic images of fruit will live on forever.
BUY AT LAUT:
FOLIO: Twelve South SurfacePad ($50)
Folio cases don't have to be intense wallets as my favorite can tell you, the Twelve South SurfacePad Case. What they should be is this beautiful leather in a thin profile design. To attach a phone, they use this sticky material lined on the whole backside.
Twelve South uses some amazingly soft leather, neatly stitched together, and it's got some stiffness to it but soft enough around the buttons to allow you to push through. Inside is lined in microfiber and has 2 card pockets that when filled, the whole setup still stays very slim. For such a slim case, it can even double as a stand for all the hands-free activities.
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RUNNER-UP: Nodus Access III ($65)
The Nodus Access Case III is nothing but leather and a lot more of it. They use a small strip of nano-suction to mount your iPhone XS and the leather is thicker with the full grain vegetable tan and has a stiffened structure to the whole case.
You've got that beautiful texture and clean stitching job as well, soft enough for volume access, and unlike the SurfacePad, offers an excess of edge to keep it safe from surface scratches.
This gets my second vote for what I call the utility pocket on the inside. A vertical pocket designed to hold anything flat. The whole folio is manageable one handed and it also doubles as a stand
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WALLET: Nomad Rugged Tri-Folio ($80)
For an enhanced wallet experience, we have, well wallet cases. The Nomad Rugged Tri Folio Case is so much folio in one case. Built with the freshest of leathers, Horween Leather that will patina wonderfully over time. This leather alone should be enough for any leather enthusiast to want this.
The case housing the iPhone has tough matte rubberized edges and does a great job at keeping the iPhone safe. A simple and clean stitching job and all the pockets you've ever dreamed of. You've never experienced pockets until you've used this case.
Each pocket is easily accessible and is actually still manageable one handed. Look it's no hourglass barbie doll but more of a sexy sumo wrestler that's wearing a fanny pack, yeah, like that. With all the cards in the front, the case is still compatible with wireless charging.
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RUNNER-UP: Apple Leather Folio ($90)
For anyone that needs to have that bitten apple around back then the Apple Leather Folio is one of the best options. Starting with the leather, soft and cushiony, similar to what they use on their leather cases but a lot more of it here.
The clean detailing, cut job, and finish around the whole case as you'd expect from Apple. It's not a monstrosity of a case which makes it useful even when not packed. What's especially neat is the magnets within the front flap - it auto shuts off and on the screen, taking a note from their competitors who've done this for many of days.
When it comes to the wallet, they've got a dedicated card pocket 3 to 4 cards max with a much larger pocket under that, good for cash and extra cards. The case holding the iPhone itself is basically the Apple Leather Case with the fancy metallic buttons. This screams Apple all around and you're paying the Apple sales tax on it too.
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CARD: VRS Design Damda Folder ($50)
If you hate flaps hanging around, you may want a card case. VRS Damda Folder Case, especially in the new sandstone finish, revolves around the hump around back. What looks like a flip phone is actually a storage area for up to 4 cards.
It's held in securely with the spring-loaded hard plastic door and once fully loaded, the case doesn't get any bulkier, it will always be the same bulky size. Although designed to fit cards, it can be used to store anything small enough to fit.
The edges offer a textured grip that is awesome for any buttery fingers and the case offer decent protection with all that rubber and plastic.
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RUNNER-UP: Silk Wallet Vol. 1 ($15)
The Silk Wallet Vol. 1 Case is almost identical to their Base Grip Case, but with an added backpack around back. It still sports a textured and grippy edge with a matte finish around the rest of the case.
The wallet itself can hold up to 4 cards but even with 1 card inside, it holds it as secure as if there were 4. Plus the finger cutout makes retrieving them a breeze.
The case is only as thick as it needs to be to accommodate the extra cards, but the backside curves to your hand which helps. The case has a decent front lip, but the rest of the case isn't the most protective but they do include a free screen protector to make up for it.
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MODULAR: Distil Union Stick-On ($40)
Not exactly a case but an accessory that works with most cases, the Distil Union Stick-On. A thin piece of leather with a pocket cutout and a pull tab. A card case simply attached to the back of a naked iPhone. Slim, fancy looking, but most importantly you've added a function to your phone at no cost in size.
The pocket can hold 3-4 cards with a pull tab that makes retrieving your goodies quick and easily. The pocket hides everything away discreetly when they're not in use and it's as thick as however many cards you stick into it, so it's the slimmest card case you'll ever own.
What makes it my favorite modular accessory though is that it peels off cleanly and you're able to throw this onto any case, like say my favorite slim case and basically convert that into a card case.
BUY AT DISTIL UNION:
RUNNER-UP: PopSockets PopWallet ($20)
The new PopSockets PopWallet allows me to continue using a PopSocket because I am that person that sucks at holding things. A thin plastic mount sticks onto any case (or a naked iPhone XS) that allows the PopWallet to snap securely in place.
It can be removed when you don't want it and slim down your carry. PopWallets are the only card pockets I've found to accommodate a PopSocket thanks to the hard surface for it to properly mount to. I found the wallet itself to hold 3 to 4 cards comfortably, anything more and the elastic looks like it's holding onto dear life.
Everything is held in securely, I haven't had any card slippage in the few weeks I've used it. Accessing them is super easy with the cutout along the bottom and even after stretching it out with 4 cards, it can still securely hold a single card without an issue.
You can collect multiple designs and swap between looks depending on how you feel during any specific day - like wearing pink on Wednesdays.
BUY AT POPSOCKETS:
This video is sponsored by ESR but all opinions expressed are based on my own experience.