SLIM - Spigen Thin Fit
- RUNNER-UP - Totallee
CLEAR - Spigen Ultra Hybrid
- RUNNER-UP - Ghostek Cloak 3
LEATHER - Nomad Clear
- RUNNER-UP - Nomad Leather
STYLE - Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone
- RUNNER-UP - UAG Pathfinder
GRIP - Speck Presidio Grip
- RUNNER-UP - Lander Moab
TOUGH - RhinoShield PlayProof
- RUNNER-UP - OtterBox Pursuit
MODULAR - RhinoShield Mod
- RUNNER-UP - OtterBox Universe
CARD - Silk Vault Wallet
- RUNNER-UP - Bellroy 3 Card
WALLET - Twelve South Journal
- RUNNER-UP - Tech21 Evo Wallet
BATTERY - Apple Smart Battery
- RUNNER-UP - Moment Battery Photo
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SLIM: Spigen Thin Fit ($11)
The Spigen Thin Fit is my daily driver since I discovered it, the best slim case for any device, in my opinion. This hard shell case is one of the slimmest cases you'll find but it's this exterior finish that wins my heart. Smooth and comfortable, it's got a soft but grippy texture, almost like it's sticky... but not really.
It makes holding such larger devices a pleasurable experience - I could rub this case all day. Unfortunately, the downside of such a slim design, is you compromise on protection. Throw it onto a table and you'll be okay, but don't count on this if you tend to drop everything you touch.
RUNNER-UP: Totallee Case ($19)
The Totallee Case is even thinner than the Thin Fit, at a third of an inch thick! That does mean it's a very flimsy case so don't expect any sort of drop protection from this. For you true minimalist that want to keep your iPhone scratch free though, this is the case for you. It feels like nothing is on when holding it and it looks like you've just given your iPhone a new skin color.
There's a translucent finish that allows the Apple logo to shine through and all the buttons are cut out to avoid adding any further bulk. It's not the grippiest case but that's not what you're buying it for - this offers nothing but scratch protection and for a lot of you, that's more than enough.
Now I will admit it does scratch up fairly easily and due to the nothingness of this case, try not to drop it.
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BEST CLEAR: Spigen Ultra Hybrid ($12)
There are a lot of clear cases available, but the Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case wins my vote for being affordable while offering a simple design. It adds a little thickness but barely any bulk. The raised corners help keep your clear back and camera from scratching up on surfaces, the buttons are responsive and there are air pocket corners to keep you covered on light drops.
Like any clear case though, the clear back will smudge up fairly easily if you're a hand sweater - there's no getting around that one.
RUNNER-UP: Ghostek Cloak 3 Series ($15)
The Ghostek Cloak 3 Case is my runner-up thanks to it's grippy and textured edge design. The black polycarbonate has a soft rubber finish similar to the Spigen Thin Fit Case but it makes one-handed usage bareable on the plus model.
The studded texture patterns allow your fingers to grasp onto something confidently, buttons are clicky, and the case can take a light drop with ease. It doesn't bulk up too much but does have a decent lip around the screen for table top coverage. If you have butter fingers but still want to show off your iPhone, this is the one to go with.
BEST LEATHER: Nomad Clear ($40)
Horween Leather is my favorite leather, period. So it's no surprise the Nomad Clear Case makes it in again as the best leather case - you really have to feel and smell the freshness to fully appreciate it. Although only just over half of it is covered in it, the hard clear portion cuts off right at the Apple logo and I personally think it's a clean contrast between a natural material and the machine it encloses.
Most importantly, the leather section is where your palm generally rests which will allow for the oils from your hands to give the leather an aged patina look over time. Don't worry, While it will scratch and mark up during usage, just let it happen, because that's what makes it look unique in the end.
The case adds a little bulk and thickness throughout from the rubber shell around it but it offers a lip to keep your screen clear from surfaces. There are no specific impact absorption features inside the case otherwise but it's lined with a felt like material that your iPhone will sure appreciate. It'll handle light drops, but by no means is it a tough case.
RUNNER-UP: Nomad Leather ($40)
If you really love that Horween Leather goodness, the Nomad Leather Case is my runner-up. It's a fully wrapped shell with the Horween leather and nothing else gets in the way of that. I wish the buttons were slightly more responsive, there's a cutout for the camera and a larger space for the Lightning jack.
This full leather case is just to be admired and at the same time, don't be afraid to use it. Again, scratches, scuffs, and wear will patina the leather nicely. It's not a thick case but it still offers a slight lip around the screen.
The leather is not the grippiest thing to hold, but that's the tradeoff with leather. It'll do fine with light drops which will add to the rugged look of it but it lacks any sort of impact absorption.
BEST STYLE: Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone ($14)
The Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone Case is basically the Neo Hybrid Series with a new patterned design, herringbone. A wavy pattern splashed all across the back portrays a sense of maturity and sophistication while the polycarbonate shell around it has a soft touch finish for making gripping one handed fairly pleasing.
The buttons are raised and responsive with cutouts for ports along the bottom and around back for the camera. The dual polycarbonate and rubber design offer slightly more protection than the previous cases with a fairly thick lip to keep your screen raised up - it'll handle day to day abuse just fine. It sort of looks like your iPhone is wearing an old twill suit.
RUNNER-UP: UAG Pathfinder ($30)
If you dig the tough guy look, UAG has been my favorite in terms of an industrial style with then Pathfinder Case. The raised ridges and fake bolts look like my iPhone is a transformer, something I'm totally cool with. A plastic and rubber combo, the buttons are flat but have a textured finish to find them and the sides have raised sections to allow your fingers to grasp onto something during usage.
Cutouts throughout the bottom and yes a headphone jack cutout because this case is compatible with the 6 series as well. Another thick lip for your the screen and a very padded corner design that can take quite a beating. If you're into the industrial look, this is a no-brainer.
BEST GRIP: Speck Presidio Grip ($20)
For you complete butter fingers out there, the Speck Presidio Grip Case should be your first thought. The rubber lined back is designed specifically so you have no excuse to drop your iPhone but in case the inevitable does happen, it's packing quite a bit of absorption throughout the interior edge as well. Holding it in the hand is something you can't experience with any other case as each rubber ridge is something for your fingers to grasp onto.
The buttons are covered and responsive, large cutouts throughout the bottom and the rubber is designed so it sits within your fingers and palm, while looking fairly cool in my opinion. It makes maneuvering around large or smaller iPhones one handed a breeze.
I call it proactive protection because it prevents you from dropping it instead of only protecting it when it does. You're paying for the rubber grip and if you drop everything you touch, is a must-have case - the thick rubber lip around the screen is just another added bonus.
RUNNER-UP: Lander Moab ($40)
A new case I recently discovered is from Lander and their Moab Case is my runner-up grip case thanks to their dedicated lanyard attachment. It's a much more direct approach to preventing drops as it almost never allows for one if you use it properly.
There's a soft matte rubber texture to it that's fairly smooth but feels so good to hold, minor indents along the edges for a little more grip but it's this dedicated lanyard attachment that'll keep you completely safe though.
I'm not a huge fan of the button covers as their recessed and can be difficult to reach but there is a fair sized lip around the screen if you ever lay it down screen first. If you happen to not be wearing the lanyard though, the case is lined in air pockets and a unique thermoline back that prevents your phone from getting too hot or too cold from the environment it's in. Basically, snow and fire got nothing in this case.
BEST TOUGH: RhinoShield PlayProof ($25)
I use this case for my merch and for good reason, the RhinoShield PlayProof Case has withstood so much impact during my testing of it. It's my go-to when I need a fairly slim and protective case to use. With responsive buttons and cutouts throughout the bottom, combined with the thick lip around the screen, your iPhone is protected without bulk.
They offer several designs and colors and they all offer just as much protection.
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RUNNER-UP: OtterBox Pursuit ($70)
The OtterBox Pursuit Series Case is my runner-up because although a tank of a case, it costs a pretty penny. It promises a complete seal from the outside world which I found to be true in my review of it. With clicky buttons and one of the thickest bezels available, all without bulking out the case too much.
Each tooth within this case clamps the two pieces shut to keep a sealed finish, With port plugs and covers throughout the rest of it. It can take a beating similar to the OtterBox Defender Series but built into the size of their Commuter series. If you've got the cash, it does what it says it'll do.
BEST MODULAR: RhinoShield Mod ($32)
For those who like their case to do more, the new RhinoShield Mod Case is my favorite due to the amount of customization available. You can go from a simple bumper case or swap in a full backplate, this is their PlayProof and Crashguard combined into one.
One day you may want to cover up and the next you can use the same case to show off the beautiful Apple logo. The best part is, it's still got that extension level of protection we saw in the PlayProof series too thanks to their hexagon patterned interior that's designed to withstand 11-foot drops - which I can confidently say I agree with from my tests.
There's a thick lip around the screen for that extra level of coverage but the case is great for its ability to be a completely new case on a day to day basis. Its modularity doesn't stop there, their first mod attachment is a lens mount that works for the PlayProof series as well and allows you to attach any of their 4 lenses to get a new camera angle while staying protected.
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RUNNER-UP: OtterBox Universe ($50)
The OtterBox Universe Case is my runner-up for not being fully customizable but offering a large variety of attachments to choose from. I've tested the Mophie battery attachment that offers an additional 2500 mAh of charge and the hard shell wallet option, able to hold 2 to 3 cards and a bill concealed within the case. Both accessories I found to be interchangeable but useful in my day-to-day tasks.
The typical thick bezel we see in all OtterBox cases the bottom is cutout to accommodate for attachments that may require the Lightning port but overall is a fairly sturdy case. The case is based on their Symmetry Series which is a slim but overall protective case, to begin with.
BEST CARD: Silk Vault Wallet ($15)
For those who want to cut out carrying more, a card case is your best bet to ditch the wallet. My vote goes to the Silk Vault Wallet Case, a flexible one-piece TPU design, I love it for the matte finish and more importantly a very affordable price point.
The edges are textured making a comfortable grip and it can easily fit 3 cards with a notch cutout to help with easy access to them. Although the whole case is fairly flexible, it holds the cards in without any issues while still being easily accessible when needed.
There is some flex to the pocket, so you can add an extra card or even a bill, but it may start to bow, but it's possible. The textured edges make a difference when you're adding so much bulk to the case and there's also a decent lip around the screen.
Combined with the added bulk of the cards, it acts as an impact cushion for the iPhone. Included free with the case though is a screen protector, nothing special, but given it's free at this price point it's great to keep your screen scratch free.
RUNNER-UP: Bellroy 3 Card ($70)
The Bellroy 3 Card Case is much more expensive because you're paying for the leather and attention to detail like the mini pockets inside the case to store an additional SIM card when traveling. I'm a fan of this one as it completely conceals your cards.
The magnetic door enclosure is also a smart choice as it closes on its own and is easily accessed when required. The case does bulk up to accommodate the 3 additional cards and it doesn't have a great lip like the other cases we've seen. The recessed buttons also aren't the easiest to reach. But I can't get over how clever the door and card pocket design is, plus, it's also wireless charing compatible.
BEST WALLET: Twelve South Journal ($70)
If you're looking for a full coverage folio wallet though, the new Twelve South Journal Case just screams leather and folio. A fairly thick and stiff case, it's designed, well like an old-fashioned journal. The leather is wrapped around the whole case, there's a stiff spine, like a regular book, and it will wear and patina over time from usage as well.
The wallet portion offers 4 quick card slots and a side pocket for extra cards or other flat objects. Of course, packing that all in makes for quite a large case with the thick leather. Overtime it should flatten out once the leather breaks in from usage though.
If you've got a thing for old leather bound books, this is the closest modern day version you'll get. As a bonus, the case does double as a stand for all your viewing pleasures. For the amount of leather you get, it's not unreasonably priced as well.
RUNNER-UP: Tech21 Evo Wallet ($50)
The runner-up Tech21 Evo Wallet Case doesn't have as many pockets, but it has something most folios don't - a locking mechanism. And yeah, it works really well.
The inside is lined with a soft fabric but is also double-walled, able to hold a single card on each side. That may not be a lot but I personally like that it doesn't allow you to bulk out the case any more than it should.
The second cover also acts as a privacy piece, hiding your cards from prying eyes and when packed and locked in, you don't feel your typical folio bulkiness. You can even leave it locked while taking a call from the speaker cutout on the front so your covers not flapping around.
It's got a faded clear back and feels really nice and compact to hold without having to worry about some extra cover flying around and the best part is by locking it, you get complete 360 degrees of coverage that actually stays in place. The case also features several air pockets to absorb impact and the clasp won't fly open on its own unless you want it to.
BEST BATTERY: Apple Smart Battery ($85)
One of my favorite types of cases, battery cases, and the best goes to the one and only Apple Smart Battery Case. The silicone exterior feels very comforting to hold and if you can get over the design of the hump, it's actually what the name says it is, smart. I use the hump to allow my finger to grasp on and maneuver the phone. The interior is lined with a soft micro fiber as we see in all Apple cases and installation is simply sliding it in from the top.
Apple only released this for the iPhone 7, as it will not work with wireless charging on the iPhone 8, but the 7 model fits the 8 without an issue. It conveniently takes a Lightning cable so no extra cables to worry about and there aren't any buttons to turn it on or off because it's always charging your phone. The only status you have is through your phones battery widget.
I think that's great, I don't have to worry about remembering to turn the case on when my phone is about to die, it just continuously keeps my phone going until its own battery dies.
RUNNER-UP: Moment Battery Case ($50)
My runner is the Moment Battery Photo Case because it's the closest thing we have to an Apple battery case for the plus model iPhones. It uses a soft touch rubber finish and also takes a Lightning cable. The grippy exterior finish compensates for how large this case actually feels but the idea of this case is around it's lens mount.
As Moment is a lens company and some of the best I've tested too, the camera cutout has their proprietary mount built-in and lenses mount simply with a single twist. It locks in tightly and combined with the built in battery, it allows you to shoot all day without having to worry about it dying on you.
My favorite feature goes to the built-in shutter button, yeah, it's that dedicated to the perfect shot. Like the Apple case, it's controlled through software, and they have a camera app that allows you to control everything - including turning the case on and off.
This whole combo turns your iPhone feeling like a high end camera. Although the tradeoff is quite a thick case that lacks any lip around the screen as that would make it even thicker. Of course, given the thick nature and battery bulge, it will also not work with wireless charging.