In the market for a new iPhone 11 case? Over the past three years, we have spent hundreds of hours examining 20 of the best iPhone cases on the market. We used each of these cases for weeks, from running our daily errands, to nights out on the town, to going on backpacking trips. For our in-depth analysis, we timed how long it took to unbox and install each model, weighed and measured them, and conducted our own in-house experiment to measure grip. We noted each case's environmental protection certifications and took metal tools to them to see how easily they scratched. We inspected every model to identify flaws or highlight elements that make them more useful or easier to operate than others. We designed this comprehensive review to help you find the perfect iPhone 11 case for your style, budget, and needs.
Weight: 1.9 ounces | Dimensions: 6.1 x 3.2 x 0.5 inches
REASONS TO BUY
High level of protection
Resistant to scratching
Does not affect switch action
REASONS TO AVOID
Larger than many
The Otterbox Commuter Series is one of our favorite all-around iPhone 11 cases. This model offers more style than many highly protective cases and more protection than the models solely designed for style. With a US military certification level of MIL-STD-810G, the Commuter is designed to repeatedly survive drops from a height of twelve feet onto concrete. The engineers behind this version included an inner layer of rubber with a plastic outer shell that snaps into place, which makes this case especially easy to remove. There are ports in the plastic that allows rubber bumpers to protrude through, allowing the Commuter to stick in place on slippery surfaces. Since the entire exterior isn't covered in tacky rubber, this dual-case design also allows this case to slide in and out of a pocket or purse easily. Once installed, the phone buttons and silent switch still function perfectly, which is not always a given with many highly protective models. When we subjected it to our scratch test, we had to lean on a flathead screwdriver with significant force to damage the case even slightly.
The main drawback of the Commuter is its overall mass. This model is a bit longer, wider, and thicker than super low-profile cases. If you're the type of person who counts every ounce for activities such as running and cycling, lighter cases are available. Although the Commuter is super easy to remove, unboxing and installing this case takes a bit longer than single-layer plastic and silicone options that immediately stretch or snap into place. Despite our gripes, this model is the way to go if you're in the market for a case that looks great and still provides military-grade drop protection.
Weight: 1.2 ounces | Dimensions: 6 X 3.3 X 0.3 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Light and slim
Great color options
Very easy to pop the phone in and out
REASONS TO AVOID
No raised bezel for camera protection
The grip is not sticky
Buttons aren't very responsive
The Smartish Kung Fu Grip Slim is an excellent bargain and a great choice for most people. This simple iPhone 11 case offers enough protection for drops from lower heights. It's one of the lightest cases on the market and will easily slip into a slimmer pant pocket. The case is easy to install and remove and is compatible with pop sockets. It also comes outfitted with air pockets around its corners, which helps further protect it from impact damage. Best of all, this case is offered at a fraction of the price of other models we tested.
While the Smartish case is said to have a super-grippy "Kung Fu Grip," we beg to differ. The edges are textured, but the material still feels smooth and slippery. Compared directly with other grippy models, this case still easily slides around flat surfaces. The buttons are hard to push and are not very responsive. While it offers decent protection, there's no raised bezel around the camera — when it sits face down on the table, the camera is almost sitting right on the surface. But we would still recommend this simple case to a friend based on price point alone.
Product Update Note — November 2022
Smartish has updated the Kung Fu Grip Slim case since our last test cycle, changing the name to the Smartish Gripmunk. Besides the name change, the case otherwise remains the same. We are now linking to the updated case, which is more readily available.
Weight: 2.4 ounces | Dimensions: 6.4 X 3.5 X 0.7 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Durable and high-quality construction
Kickstand and belt holster
REASONS TO AVOID
The OtterBox Defender stands out for its undeniable durability and protection. The two-piece construction uses a thick, high-quality polycarbonate shell and rubberized bumper. The interior has a thin foam layer to keep the phone in place and cushion it from tall drops. All ports are covered; our tests proved that this case would protect your phone from dust and water. The exterior has superior scratch resistance, with a grippy, easy-to-hold backing. The Defender also stands out for its features and comes with a carry holster that clips to a belt buckle and converts into a super sturdy kickstand.
While OtterBox Defender's degree of protection is on point, the size isn't. This model is bulkier and heavier than a lot of the competition. The case weighs almost twice the weight of the slimmest designs tested. It can fit into larger pockets, but a smaller one? Forget it. Previous Defender series phone cases used to have full-faced protection. But with modern phones now carrying IP ratings, which rate water resistance and protection from dust, companies have gotten away from offering fully sealed cases, including OtterBox. Without an additional screen protector, this case only offers protection for the back and sides of the phone unless you face it inward inside the belt holster. Despite these minor gripes, if you're seeking a super protective iPhone case with utilitarian features, the OtterBox Defender is still the best of the best.
Weight: 1.9 ounces | Dimensions: 6.0 x 3.0 x 0.6 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Holds cards and cash
Design does not cover screen or buttons
Light and compact for this type
REASONS TO AVOID
No drop test certification
Cases that double as a wallet are a fantastic way to reduce the number of objects in your purse or pocket, whether it's for a night on the town or day-to-day use. Most of the leather wallet cases we've seen have a flap that covers the buttons on one side of the phone and the screen. However, the Onetop Wallet Case has the entire wallet portion of the case integrated into the backside so that your buttons and screen are always accessible. This is a lot more practical than having to unfold a wallet just to see who sent you a text or silence a call. Not only is this model our favorite wallet-style iPhone 11 case, but it's also one of the lightest and smallest versions we've tested.
During our grip assessment, the Onetop Wallet proved especially slippery. In fact, it's about as grippy as a naked phone. Although it provides more drop protection than no case at all, the Onetop doesn't have any certifications to prove the type of impact from which it can protect your phone. Despite its flaws, this model is the best wallet-style iPhone 11 case we've seen to date.
Weight: 1.8 ounces | Dimensions: 6.3 X 3.5 X 0.3 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Two-layer protective construction
Clean and stylish look
REASONS TO AVOID
Can't accommodate a pop socket
You can't use the kickstand feature in portrait orientation
The Spigen Tough Armor is a protective, well-featured case with a sleek design. Built with a two-layer construction, it has a removable plastic exterior shell with a rubberized foam interior. The raised bezel around the camera offers excellent protection, while the covered power port protects it from dust. The exterior crushed our scratch tests, not showing any damage, even after scraping it with a knife. We especially love the kickstand feature that allows you to watch videos hands-free.
The Spigen Tough Armor case isn't the cheapest case we reviewed. The silent switch is recessed far back into the case, making it a bit difficult to operate. The kickstand is stable but only allows you to watch in landscape mode at two different angles, depending on how you flip your phone. Still, this is our top recommendation if you want a protective case with a kickstand feature.
Weight: 1.8 ounces | Dimensions: 6.4 X 3.2 X 0.3 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Clear back allows you to see the phone
Drop test certification
Louder sound with a front-facing speaker
REASONS TO AVOID
Attracts lint and isn't scratch-resistant
Difficult to get out of the case
The X-Doria Defense Shield offers excellent overall protection for a case with crystal clear backing. Its flexible thermoplastic skeleton is strong, with an anodized metal edge and a thick rubberized bumper. The phone fits snugly into the case, and its deep bezel offers excellent camera protection. The drop rating is trust-inspiring, and this case backed up those claims in our tests. The buttons are easy to use, clickable, and responsive. Furthermore, this phone case uses a front-facing "sound channel" that directs video sound or music toward you instead of downwards. As a result, it offers an "amplified" sound effect.
Unfortunately, many of the clear phone cases we tested easily get scratched. If you're not careful, these can look thrashed after just a few weeks of hard use. The X-Doria Defense Shield has a snug fit, so it can sometimes be difficult to get your phone out of the case. While we're excited about the prospect of sound amplification, the marketing material could be confusing to some consumers. To clarify, the case design amplifies sound from the bottom speaker only, and does not actually make call volume from the earpiece any louder. These few flaws aside, this is still our top recommendation if you're seeking a clear case to show off your new phone.
Why You Should Trust Us
We focused on the market's best-selling and most highly-rated products to select the iPhone 11 cases you see in this line-up. We look at a wide variety of options, with protection as our number one concern. After all, what good is an iPhone case that doesn't protect your phone? We purchase each of these cases at retail — just like you — and spend a week or more testing each case. We put these cases on our own phones and then go about our daily routines as a real-life testing regime. We assess materials and quality in the lab by bending, folding, and trying to break each case. We look at slippage, grip, how it fits into a pocket, and whether it easily picks up lint or scratches. We analyze installation and removal and assess ease of use considerations like button functionality. We also measure and weigh each case to judge its portability. During our comparative testing, these phone cases undergo 143 individual tests.
We break down our overall score into four key metrics:
Protection (40% of overall score weighting)
Portability (25% weighting)
Design (25% weighting)
Ease of Use (10% weighting)
This in-depth review is brought to you by gear junkies Amber King and Ross Patton. Amber is an avid iPhone user that's been testing all sorts of gear for over seven years. In addition to testing over 25 different gear categories, she's a science teacher who knows how to develop fair, repeatable tests to push the limits of the gear she reviews. Other reviews she's completed include kitchen cookware, external hard drives, and women's clothing. When she's not getting super-nerdy about testing products, you'll find her running, camping, and exploring with her iPhone (and protective case) in tow. Ross has been with the GearLab team for nearly four years, testing a swath of products ranging from chainsaws to MacBook cases. With a formal education in environmental science and a tendency to destroy his own gear, you can bet that he has put every one of these iPhone 11 cases through the wringer.
Analysis and Test Results
To select iPhone 11 cases for this review, we considered the market's top sellers, focusing on quality construction and protectiveness. The models we tested are suitable for pulling out at work, to sport at black-tie affairs, to carry on your run, or to bring on a river trip. This review tells of our experiences as we put each case through specific tests to look at protection, portability, design, and how easy each model is to use.
One of our primary goals at GearLab is to help you find the best product for your budget.
Even simple products, like phone cases, exist across a wide range of price points. It can be daunting and confusing to try and figure out why one product is more expensive than another.
To further convolute things, we often find that expensive products are far from the top performers and that some affordable models offer more value in the long run. Both of these instances hold true for iPhone 11 cases. Our top choice for value is the Smartish Kung Fu Grip Slim, an easy-to-install case that is very grippy. For those shopping for a case that holds cards and cash, the Onetop Wallet Case is worth every penny. There are many cases with clear backs available, but the X-Doria Defense Shield is our recommendation for an affordable version that offers great protection. If you're a fan of kickstands, the Spigen Tough Armor has a dapper design for a reasonable price. If you want a drop-tested case with a classy appearance, the OtterBox Commuter is one instance where price matches performance. Finally, the OtterBox Defender might have a hefty price tag, but it offers more protection than any case we've ever tested.
When you throw down a chunk of change on a new phone, you don't want an accidental drop to destroy your investment. Protection is the primary function of any cell phone case. While all cases protect from small drops and scrapes, some are more trustworthy than others. We began our assessment by noting any environmental protection certifications a case may carry. We then assess the material construction of each case by performing scratch tests and identifying features that protect the body and camera from falls and ports from dust and water.
Buy a Screen Protector
Most modern iPhones are water-resistant, so cases have shifted from a closed construction to an open-faced construction. Unfortunately, this shift means your phone isn't protected from falls on the face of the phone. Be sure to buy a screen protector to keep the glass from scratching or cracking.
It's no surprise that the OtterBox Defender Series is the most protective iPhone 11 case in our lineup. In addition to a military-grade drop certification, it features a protective two-layer construction with thick rubber bumpers around the edges and corners of the phone. The materials are durable and trustworthy, and OtterBox cases are known for their reliability. Unlike most cases, it also has flaps over all the ports to offer protection from water and dust.
As a bonus, the OtterBox Defender includes a plastic holster that you can clip to belts, backpacks, and straps — the holster also doubles as a kickstand. The case clips into the holster in four different positions: right side up, upside down, and with the screen facing either in or out. With the screen facing the holster, this model offers comprehensive impact protection for every part of your phone except for the camera lenses.
Scoring just behind its big cousin, the OtterBox Commuter also offers military-certified drop protection and a charge port cover but comes in a smaller and lighter package. This model did great during our scratch tests, and we feel very confident in the plastic and rubber combo construction.
The Spigen Tough Armor doesn't score as highly as the OtterBox models simply because it isn't as thick, and there aren't any port covers. But it does have a two-layer construction with absorptive foam insulation that'll keep it well protected from a fall. The Kitoo Military Grade is an armored, feature-laden case with a construction similar to the OtterBox and Spigen cases. The Kitoo earned a lower score because it doesn't use the same high-quality plastic. However, it still passes the same MIL-STD-810 516.6 testing, so it carries the same certification as the other cases.
Of the single-layer iPhone 11 cases, the Pelican Rogue Series, TAURI [5 in 1] Defender, and X-Doria Defense are the most protective. They all have a raised bezel around the camera to protect the exposed lens when placing the phone on its back. The Pelican Rogue is a rubberized, lightweight, slim case with additional protection around the corners of the phone. The TAURI case is composed of a hard plastic material that is tough and resilient. The X-Doria Defense features metal construction and a clear back that look and feel super solid and protective in hand. All three of these models are military drop-test certified.
In addition to assessing the material construction, we physically scratch each iPhone 11 case. First, we start with our fingernail, then move on to a flathead screwdriver to see how easily the material scratches. Cases with heavier rubber materials like the Pelican Rouge Series and silicone ones like the Miracase Liquid Silicone and the Cordking case didn't scratch at all. Those built with heavier plastics, such as the OtterBox Defender and OtterBox Commuter, hardly scratched even with a good amount of force applied to the screwdriver. We know that leather cases will form a patina over time. Still, both the Onetop Wallet Case and the icarercase Wallet Case held up just fine to our screwdriver abuse.
Most people prefer iPhone cases that are slim and lightweight over those that are bulky and heavy. For this metric, we weighed and measured the dimensions of each case. The lighter and slimmer a case is, the easier a phone will fit into a small pocket, purse, or backpack.
Throughout our years of testing, we've found — perhaps unsurprisingly — that weight directly correlates to the bulk of a phone case. The lighter a case is, typically, the slimmer it'll be, too. The most portable phone case is the Mkeke Clear Cover, weighing a mere 0.9 ounces. All weighing 1.3 ounces or less, the Otterbox Symmetry, Cordking, TAURI, and Mkeke Clear Cover cases are all highly portable.
More protective and beefier cases aren't as slim or as portable. Of those with a two-layer construction, the Spigen Tough Armour weighs 1.8 ounces but is a tiny bit longer than the OtterBox Commuter, which weighs 1.9 ounces. The OtterBox Defender is the most protective phone case tested but, unfortunately, weighs in at 2.4 ounces without the utility holster. Using the holster nearly doubles the weight of this case, making it a burly option.
Our two favorite wallet-style models have vastly different sizes and weights. The icarercase weighs a whopping 3.1 ounces and is one of the thickest models we've tested. The Onetop Wallet Case is surprisingly lightweight at 2.4 ounces. While it's a bit thicker than most cases we tested, its length and width are comparable to the low-profile models.
For this section of our review, we discuss any special features and the overall style of each phone case. While features are concrete elements, style is highly subjective and will truly depend on your taste and personality.
The Onetop Wallet Case earned some bonus points for its combination of features and style. This model can store several cards and some cash. But unlike other wallet-style cases, the front-mounted flap doesn't cover the screen or the buttons. The flap stays shut with the use of magnets, and it can also be used as a kickstand. If you're looking for a case with enough class for a business meeting or a wedding, this is the one.
We love the look and features of the highly protective OtterBox Commuter. The Commuter is offered in various colors so that you can add your own flavor to your stock phone. Taking advantage of the iPhone 11's IP68 water-resistance rating, this model does not have an integrated screen protector, leaving your screen open for better operation and viewing. The OtterBox Defender has a similar open-faced construction, but you can clip it to its holster with the screen facing inward to protect it. The Defender's clip doubles as a sturdy kickstand, and each of these models has rubber charge port covers. The Defender also goes a bit further than the rest with a silent switch cover.
If you're searching for a slimmer case with an integrated kickstand, the Spigen Tough Armor is our team's top choice. There's something to be said for simplicity and the clear-backed X-Doria Defense Shield offers solid protection without disguising your phone. If you're looking for a simple case that's offered in various colors, the Smartish Kung Fu Grip and the Cordking are great options that are also highly affordable.
Ease of Use
The remaining portion of the total score is dedicated to the operation of each iPhone 11 case. We timed how long they took to unbox and install and how long they took to remove. We carefully noted instances where the case affected the buttons or the silent toggle and subjectively judged how easily they slid in and out of a pocket. Finally, we used an inclinometer and a wooden board to measure the maximum angle each case can grip. Much like design, the importance of this metric will largely depend on the individual. Some people may want a super grippy model, while others may want a slick version that easily slides in and out of pockets.
The top-scoring option for this section of our assessment is the Cordking case. It only took 24 seconds to unbox and install it and a mere five seconds to remove it. The case hardly affects button operation and stuck to our grip test board up to an impressive 40 degrees. Even when it began to slip, it slowly slid down the board rather than releasing and falling like most other models we tested.
The Onetop Wallet Case is also very easy to install and remove. Although it isn't the grippiest model, we awarded it extra points for button operation — the silent toggle is fully accessible, and the rest of the buttons are easy to push.
The Spigen Tough Armor and OtterBox Commuter both take an extra few seconds to install because of their two-layer construction, but each are easy to remove. The Commuter's outer shell is hard plastic, but there are sections on the sides, front, and back where the interior rubber layer protrudes. This combination of rubber and plastic gives it a great deal of grip and allows it to slide in and out of pockets easily.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the model that offers the highest degree of protection is also one of the most difficult cases to use. The OtterBox Defender takes longer to install and remove than the other award-winning models in our review, and the buttons require a bit of force to push. The silent toggle is underneath a rubber flap, so it takes an extra second or two every time you want to flip this switch. But if unparalleled protection is your prerogative, this is a slight inconvenience once the Defender is installed on your phone.
When you've spent hundreds of dollars on an iPhone, buying a case that'll keep it well-protected is essential. To make your decision easier, we've done all the research for you. Via our side-by-side comparisons, we assessed materials, features, style, protection, and ease of use for the best iPhone 11 cases on the market. We offer our expert recommendations to help you quickly and easily find the best case for your needs.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.