Need a case to protect your iPhone 12? Our technology experts researched over 40 models before purchasing and testing 17 of the best iPhone 12 cases available today. We used each model in our daily lives, pocketing them on walks to the coffee shop and taking them on bike rides and runs. Each case was weighed and measured to assess its relative portability more accurately. We also measured their overall design, ease of use, and durability through various tests. Our comprehensive review will help you find the right case for your needs and budget.
Weight: 1.8 ounces | Dimensions: 6.0 x 3.0 x 0.5 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Protective and sleek
Includes port protector
REASONS TO AVOID
Bulkier than others
The OtterBox Commuter is one of our favorite cases overall. This sleek and durable option is the only model with a military drop-test certification that still looks and feels like an everyday case. The soft, silicone inner material is wrapped in a hard case. While this model may take a few extra seconds to install, it's extremely easy to remove. The protective flap for the charging port is a simple yet appreciated feature, as charging ports tend to get dirty quickly. This case has a smooth feel, a good grip, and easily slides in and out of pockets. To top it off, the Commuter comes in multiple color options. While many thicker cases affect the way that the silent toggle switches, the angled border around the switch on this case allows for easy operation.
We were hard-pressed to find flaws with the OtterBox Commuter. We should note that this case is definitely not low-profile, which is not surprising given its solid, protective status. The hard-plastic outer case isn't as sleek as some smoother options, making it a bit more difficult to use in certain situations. It is also pricier than some of the simpler designs on the market, but despite all these caveats, we still think it is worth the price.
Weight: 1.2 ounces | Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.5 x 0.5 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Resistant to scratching
REASONS TO AVOID
Buttons can be hard to operate
Slightly boring design
If you are looking for a no-nonsense, simple, clear iPhone 12 case, the Spigen Ultra Hybrid 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. This means it's easy to put on and take off your phone, which is nice for folks who frequently remove their case. It also offers a bit of protection for the screen with its raised lip.
Like other models in the test group, the Spigen has raised buttons on the side to aid in operating the side buttons on the iPhone. Unfortunately, operating these buttons is difficult. We found they frequently didn't respond to our initial touch; a bit of force was necessary to affect the phone buttons through this case. Those who desire a phone case with a touch of pizzazz should look elsewhere. This award winner is all about the basics of design and aesthetics.
Weight: 2.4 ounces | Dimensions: 6.3 x 3.3 x 0.6 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Covers over charge port and silent switch
Included utility clip
REASONS TO AVOID
Disables wireless charging
While a few of the iPhone cases in our review are super durable, the OtterBox Defender is practically bomb-proof. Not only does this model meet MIL-STD-810G 516.6 drop-test requirements, its overall construction undoubtedly adds even more protection. The Defender is composed of a two-piece plastic inner layer that snaps together and an additional rubber outer layer that seals the whole package together. While the iPhone 12 has an IP68 waterproof rating on its own, this model takes that protection a notch further by adding covers that seal off the charging port and the silent switch from dust and debris. A utility clip is included with the Defender — designed to house the main case forward, backward, right side up, or upside down — meaning that you can face the screen inward to protect it while your phone is not in use.
The main drawback with the OtterBox Defender is its size and weight. Not including the clip, this case adds 2.4 ounces to the overall weight and about half an inch to the width and length of your phone. It doesn't add a crazy amount to the thickness, but with the utility clip attached, the entire setup is bulky. The combination of plastic and rubber interrupts the wireless charging capability of the iPhone 12, and any magnetic capabilities get thrown out the window when you employ this case. Additionally, it is pricey. Those shopping on a budget are better off with the more affordable models in the lineup.
Weight: 3.0 ounces | Dimensions: 6.1 x 3.1 x 0.5 inches
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Flap covers volume buttons and silent toggle
Every once in a while, we come across a product with an entirely different design than any other model in its category. For those interested in a case with an innovative design, meet the Pipetto Origami Folio. Constructed of TPU and some cleverly placed magnets, you can fold this case into several different stand configurations. With a portrait position and four different landscape angles, this model would be the perfect accessory to have on extended travels for watching movies on an airplane table or catching up with friends via FaceTime from your hotel room. When you aren't using the flap to fold into one of the various stand positions, it magnetically closes over the front of the phone, fully protecting the screen.
But for its inventive design, the Pipetto Origami is not without its flaws. The most obvious drawback we find with flap-style cases, in general, is that the volume buttons and silent switch are inaccessible when the case is closed. Although the Origami is relatively compact, it's one of the heaviest cases we've tested, largely because of the magnets. It's only three extra ounces, but every ounce counts if you're on a long bike ride or a backpacking trip. TPU does offer an added level of protection from drops and vibration, but this model doesn't have any drop-test certifications, so the actual degree of protection is a bit of a mystery. Regardless of these few criticisms, the Pipetto Origami is one of the most innovative and inventive iPhone 12 cases that we've seen yet.
Weight: 0.9 ounces | Dimensions: 6.1 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Convenient, low-profile kickstand
REASONS TO AVOID
Interrupts wireless charging
A slightly different take on the classic clear plastic case propels the Torras MoonClimber into an award-winning position in our lineup. 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 it is more useful than we expected. Besides the stand, this case is straightforward in terms of design. Even with the integrated kickstand, the MoonClimber is one of the lightest models in our review.
Like many clear plastic options, it scratches very easily. After just a few uses, we scuffed this one up quite a lot. We appreciate that it is drop-test certified, but it's always disappointing to see scratches on the case. The other major drawback of this model is that the metal kickstand disrupts wireless and magnetic charging. Considering the massive shift to these new technologies, this may be a dealbreaker for some. However, if you aren't the type that beats up your phone, we recommend this model for the kickstand alone.
Weight: 0.9 ounces | Dimensions: 5.8 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Compatible with MagSafe accessories
REASONS TO AVOID
Doesn't provide much protection
Affects silent switch
If you're looking to add a bit of flare to your phone, the Apple Leather Case may be the case you're looking for. Made from tanned and finished leather, this case offers a rustic and natural appearance that is particularly attractive. It is specifically designed to integrate with Apple MagSafe accessories. This modular system lets you magnetically attach a charger, a wallet, or an auxiliary battery without removing your case. We love the idea of being able to use an auxiliary battery on an adventure and then switching it out for a wallet when you get back to civilization.
If you want to protect your iPhone from vibration and impacts, the Apple Leather is not the case for you. While this model does a great job of protecting your phone from scratches, it simply does not compare to the certified military drop-tested models regarding overall protection. We noticed the design makes it a tad more difficult to operate the silent toggle than most low-profile cases. But perhaps the biggest drawback of the Apple Leather is the price — this is one of the most expensive low-profile models in our review.
Why You Should Trust Us
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 the construction of the case and the protection each option provides for your phone. We also assessed the performance of each product by spending weeks with each case on our personal phones. We removed and replaced the cases repeatedly, assessing the flexibility and quality of materials. We also looked at the grip, texture, and whether or not the materials scratch easily. Finally, we recorded the dimensions and weight of each to determine which was the most portable. By the end of our extensive testing period, 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 side-by-side analysis was conducted by longtime reviewers Jane Jackson and Ross Patton. Jane has been reviewing products of all types for five years and knows the ins and outs of fair and honest testing procedures. Jane has reviewed all kinds of products, from climbing shoes to backpacks to dishware and baking supplies. 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!). Ross has been with the GearLab Team for nearly four years. During this time, he has worked on several Apple brand categories ranging from the best iPhone gimbals to the best MacBook Pro cases. With a formal education in Environmental Science and a knack for dissecting new products, you can rest assured that Ross is looking for the tiniest subtle nuances that differentiate these products from one another. The performance results determined by our crack team of testers allow us to provide an in-depth analysis of 17 of the best iPhone 12 cases on the market.
Analysis and Test Results
This review is a collection of our findings as we analyzed each iPhone 12 case's protection, ease of use, portability, and design. Each scoring metric is weighted according to the importance of choosing a phone case. These cases are designed for everyday use, for use in the office, and for outdoor activities. After hours of objective testing and weeks of hands-on use, we compiled the data to help you easily find the right case for your intended use.
To determine the value of each case, we consider the price versus the overall performance and any special features or elements each model may offer. If you're shopping for an iPhone 12 case on a tight budget, it's hard to beat the Spigen Ultra Hybrid. But for those who like having a foldable kickstand, the TORRAS MoonClimber is also a good value. If you want a stylish case that is both innovative and functional — and still includes a kickstand — the Pipetto Origami Folio is well worth the extra expense. The award-winning OtterBox Commuter is perhaps the best balance of performance and price, presenting an exceptional value overall. The slightly bulkier, slightly heavier cousin of the Commuter is the OtterBox Defender. This case is on the pricier side but is as rugged as they come. Although the Apple Leather is one of the most expensive models in our review and doesn't offer the highest degree of protection, it earns plenty of bonus points for style and its MagSafe expandability.
In addition to daily use and assessing manufacturers' drop-test certifications, we conduct a series of tests to compare the level of protection each case provides. Our focus for this metric is the material construction of each model. We perform scratch tests and inspect each case for features that protect the screen, ports, and camera.
Many manufacturers subject their toughest models to a series of tests to gain military drop-test certifications. A MIL-STD-810G 516.6 rating means the case can withstand a certain degree of falls, vibrations, and shocks without damaging the phone. The models in our review that meet this standard are the OtterBox Defender, OtterBox Commuter, Oterkin, Pelican Protector Series, Case-Mate Tough Plus, and SPIDERCASE.
Of these models, the OtterBox Defender was the only case that remained completely unscathed in our scratch test. The OtterBox Commuter and Pipetto Origami Folio were both hardly scratched, but the Pipetto does not possess a drop-test certification. The Apple Leather and Spigen Ultra Hybrid both did very well in the scratch evaluation but otherwise offered minimal shock protection.
In this metric, we weigh and measure each model in our test lab to determine the subtle differences in bulk and weight. We note any features or accessories that aid or hinder the portability of each model. The thinnest, lightest, lowest-profile models earn the highest scores for this portion of the overall score.
The champion of this metric is the Apple Leather, which weighs 0.9 ounces and adds nearly negligible length, width, or thickness to your phone. The TORRAS MoonClimber is the same weight as the Apple Leather but is ever so slightly larger. Two other models in our review weigh only one ounce — the Flaunt Square Case and the CASEKOO Crystal Clear.
The Pipetto Origami Folio is very close to the same dimensions as the cases mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, it weighs nearly three times as much because of several magnets that hold the various folds and positions in place. The OtterBox Defender is the biggest and heaviest model in our iPhone 12 case review. But we awarded it bonus portability points because it includes a handy plastic clip that allows you to attach your phone to anything small enough to fit in the spring-loaded clasp.
There is a significant degree of variability regarding the overall form of an iPhone 12 case. For this section, we delve into the subtle details of the standout models and any elements or features that contribute to their overall performance and style.
The model that stands apart from the rest is the Pipetto Origami Folio. The flap that covers the screen can be folded into five stand positions, allowing you to set your phone down in portrait mode or four landscape modes. This case has you covered for everything from gaming and browsing to FaceTime calls and watching movies.
For those in the market for a sleek-looking Apple brand model, it's hard to top the Apple Leather Case. Made from genuine leather, this case also features stylish metal buttons. To top it off, the Apple Leather is compatible with MagSafe accessories. So depending on the day ahead, you can decide whether you'd rather rock an auxiliary battery or card holder without having to remove your case.
We appreciate the understated look of the TORRAS MoonClimber's kickstand. If you're a fan of models that hold cards, the Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol.1 comes in a variety of fun colors and functions very well.
The OtterBox Defender and Commuter are the top two models in terms of protection and include design features to add an extra layer of insurance for your phone. Each of these cases has a rubber flap that covers the charge port. The Commuter leaves the silent toggle out in the open, while the Defender has an additional flap covering this switch. If you like the idea of attaching your phone to a backpack strap or a belt, the utility clip included with the Defender allows you to attach your device in four directions, two of which completely protect the phone screen.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is most easily assessed by using each model in our daily lives. 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? How well does each model grip a hard surface? These questions guide 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 also a significant factor in this metric — a number of the cases struggle to provide a tight enough fit to allow for easy operation of the side buttons.
Two iPhone 12 cases stand out as incredibly easy to use: the Pelican Protector and the Cordking. Both cases are easy to install and remove, and either model hardly affects button operation. During our grip assessment, the Cordking held onto our testing board up to an incredible 40 degrees. The Pelican stuck to the board up to 29 degrees, but it is much easier to slide in and out of pockets than the rubbery models.
The Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol.1 takes a matter of seconds to install and remove, and we love the design of the cardholder, which allows you to push cards out from the inside with your thumb rather than try to pinch them and pull them with your fingertips. The Pipetto Origami Folio is easy to install and operate and, despite its impressive grip, slides in and out of pockets with minimal effort. The Flaunt Square Case is as easy as they come to unbox and install, and it's super grippy.
There are so many options out there in the world of iPhone cases, including the iPhone 12. But your needs will ultimately guide your decision. 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 in a phone case, our testing and in-depth analysis will help guide you in the right direction.
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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.