Best iPhone 12 Case of 2021
The OtterBox Commuter is a sleek, durable model that soared above the rest in all of our testing metrics. It comes in multiple colors and has a unique dual-layer design that allows for an easy install. Out of all the models we tested, this one is the only one we felt confident in when it came to high-impact protection. The hard case wraps around a soft, silicone inner material with a protective flap for the charging port. We love this feature because the port is an area that tends to get dirty the fastest. Additionally, we liked the feel of it in hand and the grip it provides on the sides while still fitting smoothly into our pockets. With a solid feature set, an easy-to-use design, and a nice overall aesthetic, we were hard-pressed to find anything wrong with the OtterBox Commuter.
Since it's so solid and provides so much protection, it's a little bulky. Its hard-plastic outer case isn't as sleek as some of the smoother options we tested, which could limit its portability in some minds. Additionally, it costs a bit more than a lot of the simpler designs out there, but in our eyes, it's totally worth it.
If you are looking for a no-nonsense, simple, clear iPhone 12 case, the Spigen is the ticket. It's about as basic as it gets, and its price tag reflects its straightforward design. Though we tested several clear plastic models in this review, the Spigen is one of the most flexible and scratch-resistant options out there. This means it's easy to put on and take off your phone, which is nice for folks who find themselves removing their case frequently. It offers a bit of protection for the screen itself with its raised lip.
As with all options in this review, the Spigen has raised buttons on the side to assist in operating the side buttons on the iPhone. Unfortunately, we found these buttons to be difficult to operate and often didn't respond to our initial touch; a bit of force was required to affect the phone buttons through this case. Also, if you are looking for a case with a bit more pizzazz, this is not the choice for you. This award winner is about as basic as it gets when it comes to design and aesthetics.
For those looking for an iPhone 12 case that highlights form over function, the Apple Leather is ideal. This is a stylish, sleek, all-leather option that comes in a wide range of colors. The most significant advantages are the materials used in its construction (leather and suede), its simplicity, and ease of use, especially when it comes to operating the side buttons.
The downside to the Apple Leather option is its lack of protection. It's simple and sleek, which we love, but it also means that it doesn't provide a ton of protection from impact and general wear and tear. It's designed for folks who go easy on their electronics. Not surprisingly, it also costs a fair bit. That said, it is made from leather and performs well, so you do get what you pay for.
The CordKing is all about ease of use. This is one of the easiest options to put on and take off, so it's great for folks who like to use a case some of the time. The materials used in the construction make it easy to use and a joy to handle. The flexible rubber exterior is soft and pliable, while the inside is lined with a super-soft suede. This protects the phone from scratches and other damage that can occur when the case is on. We also like how low-profile this case is — we sometimes forgot it was even on! The buttons are easy to manipulate when it's on as well, which we appreciate.
The two hang-ups come down to protection and portability. The grippy, flexible material used in the construction makes it great to hold and use, but also makes it hard to get in and out of your pocket. The material stuck to the fabric when removing and replacing the phone; additionally, it doesn't provide the most protection. It is sleek and simple, but doesn't have much of a lip around the edge to protect the screen. We wouldn't recommend this model to anyone who is historically hard on their electronics.
A slightly different take on the classic clear plastic case propels the Torras into an award-winning position in our line-up. This option has a small metal kickstand that props the phone up on its side for watching videos, viewing photos, or using the phone as an additional screen on a desk. We loved this feature and found it to be more useful than we expected. Besides the stand, this one is simple and straightforward in terms of design.
Like many clear plastic options, it scratches very easily. After just a few uses, we scuffed this one up quite a lot.
If you're looking for a durable, flexible option that won't scratch and is also sleek and slim, the Smartish Kung Fu Grip is a good choice. It has one of the best overall "feels" in the line-up. It is low profile and slim, and the rubberized material will last. We also appreciate the reasonable price tag on this choice, making it a no-brainer for a no-nonsense, easy-to-use case.
Though the material itself is durable and scratch-resistant, it doesn't offer all that much protection to the phone. The edge of the case rises only a tiny bit above the phone's screen, which doesn't inspire too much confidence in terms of protecting the screen from cracking upon impact.
It can be hard to find a case that balances protection and sleekness. Often times, the most protective cases are bulky and obnoxious. The CASEKOO Defender toes the line perfectly, providing protection to the phone inside without adding excess bulk. When it comes to aesthetics, it's basic, and comes at an affordable price. It was also easy to remove and replace.
Since it's durable and protective, the CASEKOO lacks the flexibility that most of the other clear options tote. This doesn't matter too much once the case is on, but it definitely inhibits movement when trying to get a phone into it.
There are not that many defining features to the CASEKOO Crystal Clear case other than the product's simplicity. This is as basic as it gets — clear plastic, slightly flexible design, with a lip to protect the phone screen. We appreciated the reinforced edges and the lip since these features seemed to improve the overall level of protection that the case provides. Overall, we were not blown away, but we appreciated its simplicity.
For some, its simplicity may be appealing, but others may be a bit underwhelmed by the lack of features on this product. Our testers fell into the latter category and felt that this case lacked flair.
This straightforward option is slim, sleek, and lightweight. The Temdan is yet another clear option with a simple design. We appreciated its flexible construction and its ability to slide in and out of pockets with ease. It also comes at a very reasonable price, adding to its appeal. For those looking for the most basic option out there, the Temdan is a great choice.
Though it is simple and clean, the Temdan also scratches easily and gets scuffed up after only a few days of use. We were also a bit underwhelmed by the performance of the side buttons — they usually took a few tries to actually engage through the plastic casing.
Why You Should Trust Us
This side-by-side analysis was conducted by long-standing gear reviewer Jane Jackson. Jane has been reviewing products of all types for five years and knows the ins and outs of fair and honest testing procedures. From climbing shoes to backpacks to dishware and baking supplies, Jane has reviewed all kinds of products. When she's not writing reviews, she can be found climbing on, running through, or skiing down mountains (with her iPhone in tow, of course!).
We scoured the internet for the top iPhone 12 cases on the market. We then selected the best-selling and most highly rated options for hands-on testing. The main focus of our evaluation was construction and the protection each option provides. We also assessed the performance of each product in the following metrics by spending weeks with each model in hand. Ease of use, portability, style, design and features were all evaluated throughout our hands-on testing period. We removed and replaced the cases over and over again, assessing the flexibility and quality of materials. We also looked at grip and texture and whether the materials scratch easily. We also recorded the dimensions and weight of each to determine which is the most portable.
Analysis and Test Results
For the selection of contenders you see here, we chose the top-selling, open-faced models available online. These cases are designed for everyday use, the office, and outdoor activities. This review is a collection of our findings as we analyzed the protection, ease of use, portability, style, and features of each model.
In addition to daily use and assessing the impacts of everyday wear and tear, we conducted a series of tests to compare the level of protection each one provides. Our focus for this metric was the material construction of each model. We performed scratch tests and inspected each case for features that protect the screen, ports, and camera. The top performer in this metric is, unsurprisingly, the Otterbox Commuter. At this point, most people who have purchased a phone case before know that Otterbox is more or less the gold standard for protection; the Commuter is no exception. This is the only case we felt fully confident in when dropping our phone on hard surfaces. It is also scratch-resistant and has a rubberized plug to protect the port from dirt, dust, and water.
There were not many cases that came close to the Otterbox Commuter when it came to protection. That said, the Smartish Kung Fu Grip was impressively scratch-resistant, as was the Cordking. Though these two cases don't provide the same impact resistance as the Otterbox, they are still made from solid materials and offer a good amount of protection for daily use.
Ease of Use
Ease of use was most easily assessed by using each model in daily life. How easy is it to get a phone in and out of the case? Do the buttons operate well through the case? Does it slide in and out of a pocket with ease? These questions guided us through our assessment of each product in this metric. Some cases pop on easily, while others require quite a bit of wrestling to get the phone inside. Button functionality is a significant factor in this metric. We found that a number of the cases struggled to provide a tight enough fit to allow for easy operation of the site buttons.
In general, the more flexible the material, the easier it is to get the phone in and out of the case. This meant that the CASEKOO Crystal Clear and the Apple Leather were top performers in this metric. Though it was fairly flexible as well, the Smartish Kung Fu Grip was surprisingly hard to get on and off.
When it comes to button functionality, the top performers were the Otterbox Commuter and the Cordking. The fit of these cases was such that operating the buttons was smooth and easy. The CASEKOO Crystal Clear was also a top performer in this metric and did the best when it came to button functionality among all the clear options in the lineup. The Temdan and CASEKOO Defender didn't have a great fit, and we struggled to operate the buttons with this case in use.
In this metric, we took measurements. Each model was weighed and measured in our test lab to determine the subtle differences in width and weight. The materials used in construction also play into portability — since we assessed how each case fit into a pocket in this metric as well. Does the material get hung up on the fabric? Is it too grippy? Does it have too many features to slide into a pocket with ease?
Most of the models are the same dimensions, which makes sense since they all are designed to fit an iPhone 12. Width is a crucial measurement since it dictates how comfortably the phone will fit in a pocket. Nearly each model came in at just under a half-inch thick. In terms of weight, the lightest case is the Apple Leather, which rings in at 0.92 ounces. The heaviest case, the OtterBox Commuter came in at 1.8 ounces.
This is a slightly more subjective metric, as every one of our testers has their own unique style preferences. In any case, we considered the materials used in construction, the overall aesthetic, and the way it looks on the phone to determine our scores for this metric. In general, cases with a little more flair and attention to design ranked higher in this metric. The clear plastic options like the Temdan, Torras MoonClimber, CASEKOO Crystal Clear, and the Spigen Ultra Hybrid all came in with similar performance, as their design is pretty basic and lacks any distinct flair.
The top picks in terms of style were the options that added a little bit of class to the phone. Most notably was the Apple Leather, which comes in various colors and has a smooth leather outside, a subtle lip, and a suede lining. We tested the cherry red version of this case, and it got us a lot of compliments. The Smartish Kung Fu Grip also has a sleek aesthetic but is made from much more durable materials, ticking multiple boxes. The OtterBox Commuter has a distinct look but is a little bit more heavy-duty than the other top scorers. This case is excellent for those spending time outside since it's durable and rugged; it also comes in a variety of colors and has a nod to aesthetics in its design.
Design and Features
This assessment category is very similar to aesthetics but a bit more focused on the feature set of each case. Specifically, we paid close attention to the button functionality, port covers (if any), and any reinforcements. Some of our favorite features include the reinforced edges and support around the camera on the CASEKOO Defender, the metal buttons on the Apple Leather, and the port cover on the OtterBox Commuter.
Some of the subtler features that we liked are the textured sides found on most of the clear cases. This makes it easier to hold the phone and reduces the risk of dropping.
There are dozens of options out there in the world of iPhone 12 cases. Your decision will be guided by what you are looking for from the model you purchase. Is durability your utmost concern? Do you want your phone to look classy, or would you prefer the case to be as close to invisible as possible? No matter what you seek, we hope our testing has helped guide you in the right direction.
— Jane Jackson