Best iPhone 11 Case of 2020
The Pelican Rogue Series is our favorite iPhone case because of sleek, slim, and simple style balanced with excellent protection. It uses TPU rubber with a waffle-like design that can be easily be sported at a black-tie affair. The buttons are large, responsive, and clickable, while the raised bezels offer additional protection for the camera. The open-face design isn't bulky and slips easily into the back of your jeans, backpack, or purse. We also love that it crushed our durability tests. After scratching the material with both a fingernail and a knife, it shows no sign of scratching or wear and tear. It also comes with a 10-foot drop rating, with additional cushioning around the edges. Everytime we dropped our phone, we didn't see any spider cracks or damage. We also love the affordable price that makes it our favorite option on the market.
Our only complaint is it doesn't come in many color options and lacks features. Aside from that, this protective phone case is our favorite one we'd recommend without hesitation.
The Spigen Tough Armor isn't only protective for unexpected drops, but it is well-featured, 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 provides excellent protection for the camera while the covered power port is protected dust. The exterior crushed our scratch tests, not showing damage, even after scraping it with a knife. We especially love the little kickstand feature that allows you to watch a video, tutorial, or show hands-free.
Unfortunately, this case is quite expensive. While we think it's quite protective, it has no official drop rating. The kickstand is quite stable but only allows you to watch in landscape mode at two different angles, depending on which way you flip your phone. It also measures a little thicker than other options, even though it feels quite thin in hand. This is the case we'd recommend for those who need a thin yet protective option with a kickstand feature.
The Otterbox Defender Series stands out for its undeniable durability, protection, and features. Of all cases tested, it's the most protective, as the walls are thick, with additional protection around the edges. 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, with even more drop protection. All ports are covered, which further protects from both dust and water. The raised bezels around the camera will keep the lens from scratching when placing the phone down. The exterior has superior scratch-resistance, while the material is grippy and easy to hold. It also comes with a carry holster that clips to a belt buckle and converts easily into a super sturdy kickstand.
While we trust this case to keep our phone protected, it is bulky and heavy. The case itself weighs 3.05 ounces, which is almost more than twice the weight of the slimmest designs tested. It can fit into larger pockets, but a smaller one? Forget it. Also, previous Defender series phones used to have full-faced protection. This only has protection for the back and sides of the phone, like all other options in this review. If you're seeking a super protective iPhone case with fun features, this is the best of the best — just be ready to invest.
The Smartish Kung Fu Grip is an excellent bargain and choice for most people. If you're seeking a simple iPhone case that'll offer some protection from a small drop and a sleek design, this is one to consider. Its one of the lightest cases out there and will easily slip into a small shirt or pant pocket. The flesh construction on the back makes it compatible with a pop socket. The phone is easy to put into the case and remove, making it an excellent option for those that like to remove it often. It also comes outfitted with air pockets around the corners of the phone, which is supposed to further protect from drops. The low price is another huge plus.
While this case is said to have a "super-grippy" "Kung Fu Grip", we beg to differ. Yes, the edges are textured, but the material still feels smooth and slippery. It easily slides around on flat surfaces, without offering any kind of texture on the back of the phone. If you're thinking of buying it for its grip, we'd recommend looking at a better, more grippy, option. Also, the buttons are hard to push and 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. If you're only seeking a case that offers just a bit of protection with a slimmer profile at a good price, this is still the best option to consider.
The Mkeke Compatible is a super lightweight and simple iPhone case that you'll typically see at huge discounts Its clear-back construction with a rubberized frame makes it easy to hold your iPhone with one hand, without it slipping. We love love love its button functionality that is large and clickable. It's one of the top-selling iPhone cases for its simple construction and good price.
Unfortunately, with a low price typically comes lower quality. Upon material inspection, it isn't very protective, outside of the air pockets in the corners and the rubberized border. We wouldn't trust this case to protect our phone in a large fall. If you're simply seeking a low-cost case that'll protect from being jostled around in a backpack or purse, with a lightweight and sleek design, this is one to consider.
The Defense Shield features a crystal clear backing with excellent overall protection. Its flexible thermoplastic skeleton that is quite strong with a anodized metal edge and a thick rubberized bumper. The phone fits quite snug into the case with its deep bezel, offering incredible camera protection. The 10-foot drop rating is trust-inspiring and one that've said will keep your phone safe. The buttons are easy to use, clickable, and responsive. Furthermore, this phone uses a front-facing speaker (for video or music) that directs sound waves forward instead of down. As a result, it offers an "amplified" sound effect. We also like the price that is fair for its level of protection.
Unfortunately, all clear phones we tested easily get scratched and if not careful, can look thrashed after just a few weeks of hard use. The case has a really snug fit, so know that getting your phone out of it can be difficult. While the phone does amplify sound from the music speaker, it does not amplify the sound from the earpiece, which can be misleading for some consumers if you take a look at the website. If you're seeking a phone that's a little louder than most with a clear design, this is our top recommendation.
The Speck Presidio stands out for its super cute color options and stylish exterior. It's built with a polycarbonate shell and a rubberized exterior that's said to protect up to a whopping 13-foot fall. This iPhone case is built with several horizontal rubberized stripes that add a little extra grip — an important feature for those who like a no-slip grip when operating the phone with one hand. Plus, the profile is slim enough to fit into small pockets and doesn't feel heavy or bulky. We also love its large and super-reactive buttons that make any phone easy to use. Overall, we think the protection and style are one that any user will see the value in.
While we do like the rubberized grips, these grips tend to fall off after just a few months of use. In our personal experience, the plastic material used is quite slippery. When temperatures rise, and fingertips get warm, it feels more slippery than other cases built with materials that have more inherent friction, like those crafted from Silicon or rubber. It also scratches easily, despite the fact it comes with a "scratch-free lifetime warranty". We do, however, like the design and look of it.
The Lifeproof Slam is another clear case with large clickable buttons. The clear styling allows you to see right through it, with many bumper color options. It will allegedly protect your phone in a drop up to 6.6 feet, while the raised bezel will keep your camera safe. We love the button functionality. They click with use and are independent and easy to use. The sound can easily be heard through the case, making it seem like there's no case at all. It's also super lightweight with a slim profile that'll easily slide into small pockets. If you like to take your phone out of the case every now and then, it's easy to pop out and back in.
Like most clear cases, it is susceptible to scratches. When dragging a blade over the back of it, it scratched easily. If you seek a protective and lightweight case with awesome button functionality, this is an option not to be missed. Keep in mind it does cost a little more, but the high quality of this brand is one that's worth investing in.
The Miracase Liquid Silicon Case has highly functional and clickable buttons, cute color options, and a slim profile. The 100% silicon construction makes for a non-slip grip that won't accidentally be knocked off a table. The case itself probably can't protect from a considerable fall, it'll stay protected for short distances. The material itself is quite elastic and absorptive of shock. The raised bezel will protect your camera while the additional "air" in the corners will keep your phone safe if it falls on the side. The case is also quite flexible, making putting it in and taking out a breeze. The price is also hard to beat.
While we love the look and feel of this case, it's just not as well crafted as competitors that score higher. The interior features a nice microfleece liner, but it is glued on haphazardly and looks like it can easily delaminate. In our lint tests, it picks up hair and dust quite easily, and because of its "stickier" exterior, it doesn't slide inside fleece-lined pockets easily. If you're willing to put up with these caveats, this silicon-based option might be for you. It's priced well and does what it needs to do.
The armored Kitoo Military Grade is a beefy case with some pretty nifty features. Its militant look is industrialized and utilitarian. The two-layer construction (thermoplastic polyurethane and polycarbonate) seems to offer excellent shock absorbance. We love the series of ridges along the back of the case that offers excellent grip. The kickstand feature is another favorite that allows one to easily watch a video or go hands-free. It sets up in both landscape and portrait style. We also appreciate that the back material seems impervious to scratches. The buttons aren't huge but still functional and very easy to press, and the price is right.
While we wanted to love this case, it seems cheap and flimsy. The materials are very thin and flexible. While we didn't experience the kickstand breaking off, many online users report it being an issue. In addition, because of the armored look, it's not a style that suits everybody's taste. It's also quite bulky in hand, but lightweight overall. If you're looking for a well-priced cased with an armored look, kickstand, and huge drop protection, this is our recommendation. Just don't be surprised by its cheaper looking construction - that still does the job.
The Kitoo Premium Protection Carbon Finish is an affordable and simple case with a carbon finished look (it's not actually made from carbon fiber). It claims that your phone will be safe with a 10-foot drop while the raised bezel will protect the camera well. The materials are thinner, and not quite as protective as other beefier options in this review, but that makes for a slim profile that's easy to fit inside a small, shallow pant or shirt pocket. The exterior crushed our scratch tests, showing little to no wear after dragging a blade across the back of it. Plus, the low price is hard to beat.
This low-priced option comes with a trade-off of thinner, flimsier materials that just don't seem that durable. Even though the exterior is scratch-resistant, we were able to completely bend the back of the case. When we did, the finish rippled, and the micro-cloth inside the case delaminated. Another caveat is the buttons. While they are plenty large, they aren't as sensitive and require a little extra work to push. Overall, if you want a simple phone case with a cool carbon finish that does its work mostly in protection, this is one we recommend, despite its flaws.
The Ghostek Atomic Slim stands out for its aluminum construction that's layered overtop a thermoplastic skeleton with rubberized bumpers. The look is sleek, industrialized, with lots of color options to choose from. The back of the case is completely clear, so you can see your phone through it. There are two ventilation holes to prevent moisture from capturing between the phone in the case while the sides have a rubberized grip to prevent accidental drops. There are also additional rubber bumpers in high impact zones to keep your phone safe. We think this is one of the most protective phone options out there that are quite high quality.
While we were first really excited about this case, we were sadly let down when testing out the button functional. We found the buttons to be really hard to press and have a "lag" effect when using them. The silencer is also sunk into its slot, so it's quite hard to access. Overall, it's hard to use, which earns it a lower ranking amongst award winners. Plus, it is quite expensive. It's really best for those that don't mind pushing the buttons really hard and want a super-protective metal case with a slim profile (which is hard to find).
Why You Should Trust Us
This in-depth and well-researched review is brought to you by gear junkie Amber King. She is an avid iPhone user that's been testing all sorts of gear for over seven years. In addition to testing over 25 different categories of gear, she's a science teacher who knows how to develop fair, repeatable tests to truly find the limits of the gear she is tasked to research and write about. 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.
When selecting the cases you see in this line-up, we focused on the best selling and most highly rated options on the market. We look at a wide variety, with protection being the focus in construction. After all, what good is an iPhone case that can't protect your phone? After ordering each, we spent a week with each case in hand. We used each day in and day out. We assess materials and quality by bending, folding, and trying to break each case. We look at slippage, grip, how it fits into a pocket, and whether it picks up lint or scratches easily. We see which are the easiest to pop a phone in and out of and button functionality on each. We also measure and weigh each case to see which is the slimmest and most portable.
Analysis and Test Results
In selecting the iPhone cases for this review, we consider those that are top sellers, high quality, and protective. We focus mainly on open-face models that are suitable for pulling out at work, black-tie affairs, and on your run. This review tells our story of experiences as we put each case through specific tests to look at protection, ease of use, portability, style, and features. Enjoy!
When you throw down a massive chunk of change on a new phone, protecting it is of utmost importance. You don't want an unexpected drop to be its demise. 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. To test this, we assess the material construction of each by performing scratch tests and identifying features that'll protect edges, the camera, and ports from dust, water, and falls.
It's no surprise that we think the Otterbox Defender Series is the most protective case of them all. It features a protective two-layer construction with huge rubber bumpers around the edges and corners of the phone, thicker than any option tested. The materials are durable, trustworthy, and Otterbox is known for its protective reliability. Unlike any case, it also has flaps over all the ports to protect from both water and dust. No other phone has all these protective features in one package.
The Spigen Tough Armor doesn't score as high as the Otterbox Defender simply because it isn't as thick, and the ports aren't covered. 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 phone with many features with a construct similar to both the Otterbox and Spigen cases. It earns a lower score because of the thinner and flimsier materials that simply don't seem that protective. It does, however, come with a 12-foot drop rating, something that neither the Otterbox Defender nor Spigen Tough Armor sports.
Of the single-layer construction cases, the Pelican Rogue Series, Speck Presidio Grip, X-Doria Defense are the most protective. They all have a raised bezel around the camera to protect the exposed lens when you place the phone on its back. The Pelican Rouge (rated to a 10-foot fall) is a rubberized, lightweight, and slim case that uses the rubber material as an absorptive material with additional protection around the corners of the phone. The Speck Presidio (rated to 13 feet!) is a hard plastic material that is tough and resilient. The X-Doria Defense (rated for 10 foot falls) features metal construction and a clear back that look and feel super solid and protective in hand. All are rated the same, and ones we highlight because we would trust dropping a phone in any of these cases.
In addition to assessing the material construction, we physically scratch each case. First, we start with our fingernail, then move onto a small blade to see how easily the material scratches. Cases with heavier rubber materials like the Pelican Rouge Series and silicon like the Miracase Liquid Silicon Case don't scratch at all. Those built with heavier plastics like the Kitoo Military Grade don't scratch either. All cases with a clear plastic backing, such as the Ghostek Atomic scratch immediately. When considering the longevity of your case, be sure to avoid clear cases as they show scuffs and marks a lot faster than other styles.
Ease of Use
Ease of use accounts for how easy the case is to use on a daily basis. When testing this metric, we tested a variety of things. First, we look at the grip of the surface and whether it'll easily slip off a table or out of your hand. Second, we note how easy it is to pull a phone in and out of the case. Third, we see if it catches or sits comfortably in pockets that are both smooth and fleece-lined. Fourth, we assess button functionality. We note which ones click easily or if they're hard to press and/or unresponsive. Those that score higher in this category have excellent grip, don't catch on pockets, easily pop out of the case, and have large, easy to use buttons.
A grippy phone is important, especially if you're a hand talker. You don't want it sliding out of your hand, flying across the room, and smashing. You also don't want it to slide off a slippery surface easily. You also want to make sure it stays in place when using your phone with one hand. Cases with additional rubberized grips, grooves, and a large amount of surface area are the grippiest. Those that are super smooth and thin are typically less grippy.
The case with the best grip is the Speck Presidio, with its plastic construction and several rubberized bumpers all over its surface. We also love the Miracase Liquid Silicone that features a smooth, but sticky construction that won't slide off a table. In fact, it's so sticky, it sometimes (and annoyingly) catches on felt-lined pockets. Another to highlight is the Kitoo Military Grade that is plush with rivets and even has an ergonomic fit that fits your fingers exactly where you need them. The Otterbox Defender and Pelican Rouge also have an excellent grip with its rubberized design. The Pelican Rouge is a touch bit smoother than the Defender, but both are grippy options.
Phone Insertion and Removal
Some people love to take their phone out of the case while running or when weight optimization is necessary. The easiest cases to remove are very flexible and simply pop out without too much force. Of them all, the Miracase Liquid Silicone is the easiest as its entire body is made from a flexible Silicon. The Spigen Tough Armor and Kitoo Military Grade are two more protective options that are surprisingly easy to remove. Since they both have a two-part construction, the harder plastic can be removed, and the phone can easily be popped out. The Otterbox Defense is another easy case to take a phone in and out of, except it takes more time. You have to pull the rubberized rim off the edges, then unsnap the skeleton to easily remove the phone. All other cases required extra work. With the iPhone 11, it's easier to push the phone out from the camera since most cases don't flex.
Smoother phones that don't catch and easily slide into pockets do the best here. For example, the Kitoo Carbon Case and Smartish Kung Fu Grip both have a smooth back construction that won't catch or gather lint.
This is the most important micro-metric of this category since we use buttons throughout the day, every day. A phone with large buttons that click and are dependent of one another do the best in this category. All the phones we tested demonstrate useable button functionality, but some are much better than others.
Our favorite button functionality is found in the Otterbox Defender Series, Pelican Rouge, Mkeke Compatible, Lifeproof Slam, and the Miracase Silicon Case. These all stand out because they are quite large and incredibly responsive. All feature long, rectangular buttons that aren't flat but raised, which inspires the "click" that we love. All these cases articulate well with all buttons, and the silencer isn't hard to reach either.
iPhone cases that are slim and lightweight are preferred over those that are bulky and heavy. For this metric, we weigh each case and measure the dimensions of each. The lighter and slimmer, the easier the phone will fit into a small pocket, purse, or backpack, and thus, more portable.
We found that the weight of a case can be used to assume its profile as well. The lighter it is, typically, the slimmer it'll be. The most portable phone case is the Mkeke Compatible (0.9 ounces), Smartish Kung Fu Grip (1.15 ounces), and the Pelican Case Rouge (1.4 ounces). The Pelican Rogue has a slightly slimmer profile than the other options but is a little heavier because it's made of tougher and more protective materials. These are all excellent options if you need a super-thin phone that'll fit into smaller pockets.
The Miracase Silicon, Kitoo Carbon Finish, and Lifeproof Slam all weigh 1.4 ounces, similar to the Pelican Rough, but have a slightly thicker profile. Of them all, the Kitoo Carbon finish has the slimmest profile, followed by the Miracase Silicon, then Lifeproof Slam. All of the above options easily fit into small pockets.
More protective and beefier cases aren't as slim or as portable. However, of the most protective options, the Pelican Case Rogue once again stands on the top of the podium. Of those with a two-layer construction, the Spigen Tough Armour (1.8 ounces) stands out as the lightest with the slimmest design. The Otterbox Defender is the most protective phone case tested but unfortunately weighs in at a whopping 3.05 ounces, making it a heavy and burly option.
What's your favorite look? We realize that there are endless style options you can choose from, and finding a case that you feel good about carrying around and pulling out at work, in town, and even at a black-tie affair is important. Some folks love an industrialized or militant look while others might prefer a clean, crisp look that's under the radar and versatile. We realize that style is a completely subjective score, so take our recommendations with a grain of salt. A higher score is assigned to cases that come in more colors and/or patterns, while a niche style is given a lower score.
The Miracase Silicon case features the most color and pattern options, earning top points for style versatility. It features a smooth silicone design that is sleek and easy to use. We also love the Presidio Speck for its super cute color options. The Pelican Rogue is also a stylish option that's not too 'in your face'. It uses waffled rubberized looks and comes in a few color options but doesn't have as many options as the Mirascase.
The Smartish Kung Fu Grip is another option for those that like a low-profile case. It has a sleek look with many color options, ready for any black-tie affair or a casual dinner. It's a little more stylish than the Miracase Silicon but doesn't have as many color options. We also love the look of the Kitoo Carbon Case. It features an industrial flair, with its carbon finish, without looking too military or utilitarian.
If you like a military or armored look, be sure to check out the Kitoo Miltary Grade with its many rivets and raised grooves that look like it came straight from the army. The Ghostek Atomic Slim and X-Doria Defense Series both feature metal construction with rubberized bumpers that looks industrial but still sleek. Both have many color options.
Of the protective phone options, the Spigen Tough Armor is a favorite for its sleek, low-profile look that isn't too bulky. The Otterbox Defender is also quite sleek with a diversity of color options, but the bulky look isn't the most stylish.
Many of the cases tested are quite simple and don't offer a suite of noteworthy features, but a few cases are special. All products tested are compatible with wireless chargers. The feature that we love the most is a built-in kickstand that allows you to go hands-free when watching a show or texting.
The Otterbox Defender is a heavily featured case. Not only does it have mega-protective features, but it comes with a holster that'll clip onto your belt buckle (if that's what you're into), but it will also convert into a super-solid kickstand. The Otterbox Defender holster has the most stable kickstand feature of all case options. We just don't like that you need to carry the holster to get the kickstand. And many of our testers said they wouldn't use the belt holster anyway, so this feature isn't helpful for most.
The Spigen Tough Armor and Kitoo Military Grade both have built-in kickstands, which means you don't have to carry an additional piece with you to get this feature, as you do with the Otterbox Defender. The Spigen Tough Armor uses a small little piece of plastic (that seems a little flimsy) that flips out from the case and allows you to view shows in landscape mode. You can slip the phone to either side (long ways) to get two different viewing angles. The Kitoo Military Grade case is a much beefier kickstand that allows you to view in portrait or landscape mode. It uses a much large plastic attachment, inset into the back of the case. We think this is the most practical kickstand, but many online users have experienced it breaking off (we didn't).
Which case has the best construction? Use the most durable materials? To assess this, we tried to break, bend, and find points of weakness. We also use data from our scratch tests to determine quality. The best cases are those that maintain structural integrity and don't show any signs of wear or scratching, quite literally after they've been defenestrated.
Cases made with high-quality rubber, polycarbonate, and thicker plastics do best in these tests. Of them, we believe the Otterbox Defender to be the best quality case we've tested. It uses super-thick plastics and rubberized gaskets that are burly. They don't scratch, bend, and always maintain their structure.
We also love the burly rubberized construction of the Pelican Case and the high quality Spigen Tough Armor that are both scratch-proof and high quality. The Spigen Tough Armor uses multiple layers of high-quality materials, including a shock-absorbent foam sandwiched between two layers of thicker plastic. The X-Doria Defense is our favorite clear case because of its super durable metal design. While the clear plastic is susceptible to scratching, we're impressed by the overall construction of the bumpers and borders. These are options of the highest quality. Others have a decent construction but are made of thinner materials that are flimsier and not as high quality.
When you've spent hundreds of dollars on an iPhone, it's essential to buy a case that'll keep it well protected. We've done all the tough work for you. Side-by-side, we assessed materials, features, style, protection, and more to give you ip. We also offer our recommendations to help you in your quest for finding the best case for your needs.
— Amber King