Best iPhone 11 Case of 2021
The Pelican Rogue Series is our favorite iPhone case. It uses a protective TPU rubber with a waffle-back design that is slim and stylish. The buttons are large and responsive, while the raised bezels offer additional protection around the camera. Its open-face design isn't bulky and slips easily into the back of your jeans, backpack, or purse. In our materials tests, it supersedes the rest, showing no wear after being scratched with a fingernail and a knife. It comes with a 10-foot drop rating, which proved to be accurate when we accidentally dropped our phone from high surfaces. Its affordable price is hard to beat for its exceptional quality, which has lasted over a year and still looks new.
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 to any of our friends without hesitation. Our main editor uses the case for her iPhone regularly when we aren't doing iPhone case testing.
The Smartish Kung Fu Grip is an excellent bargain and an excellent choice for most people. This simple iPhone case offers protection during lower drops with a simple design. It's one of the lightest cases out there and will easily slip into a slimmer pant pocket. The phone is easy to put into the case and remove and is compatible with pop sockets. It also comes outfitted with air pockets around its corners, which should further protect it from a drop at a lower height. The low price is also a great 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 a flat surface. 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. Overall, this is a simple and well-priced case that we recommend.
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 offers excellent protection, while the covered power port protects from 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 videos hands-free.
This case is quite expensive. While it's protective, it has no manufacturer drop rating. The kickstand is stable but only allows you to watch in landscape mode at two different angles, depending on how you flip your phone. For those seeking a protective and slim case with a kickstand feature, this is our highest recommendation.
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 added protection from all sides. 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 cushions from tall drops. All ports are covered, which proves to protect from both dust and water in our tests. The exterior has superior scratch-resistance, with a grippy, easy-to-hold backing. It also comes with a carry holster that clips to a belt buckle and converts 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, 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 utilitarian features, this is the best of the best.
The Defense Shield uses a crystal clear backing with excellent overall protection. Its flexible thermoplastic skeleton is quite strong with an 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's said to keep your phone safe. In our tests, it did do exactly that. 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 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 Mkeke Compatible is a super lightweight, simple, and affordable iPhone case. Its clear-back construction and rubberized frame allow you to easily and securely hold your iPhone with one hand. We love love love its button functionality, which are 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 from a large fall. This low-cost case will protect from jostling with a lightweight and sleek design.
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 has 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 value in.
While we like 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 silicone or rubber. It also scratches easily. This case is best for those that like cute hard cases with great color options and lifted rubberized grips throughout the exterior.
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 is designed to keep your camera lens safe. Sound can easily be heard, 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 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 worth investing in.
The Miracase Liquid Silicone Case has highly functional and clickable buttons, cute color options, and a slim profile. The 100% silicone 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, but it'll stay protected for short distances. The material itself is quite elastic and absorptive of shock, and the raised bezel will help protect your camera. The case is quite flexible, which makes putting it in and taking it out a breeze. The price is also hard to beat.
Unfortunately, the quality is lacking. 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 a no-frills silicone case is what you seek, this is one we'd recommend.
The armored Kitoo Military Grade is a beefy case with some nifty features. Its militant look is industrialized and utilitarian. The two-layer construction (thermoplastic polyurethane and polycarbonate) offers excellent shock absorbance. We love the series of ridges along the back of the case that make it easy to grab. The kickstand feature easily allows one to watch a video or go hands-free, setting up both landscape and portrait style. In our scratch tests, the materials held up well, showing little to no scratching. The buttons aren't huge but are functional and very easy to press. The price is attractive if you like this style.
Online, this case appears super burly and high quality, but once it arrived and we unboxed it, it was actually much thinner and more flimsy than expected. The armored look also isn't a style that suits everyone's taste. It feels bulky in hand but lightweight overall. If you're looking for a well-priced case with an armored look, kickstand, and huge drop protection, this isn't a bad option.
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. That said, it's easy to slip it into 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. We also appreciate the lower comparative price.
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 in half. 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 very sensitive and require a little extra work to push. Overall, if you want a simple phone case with a cool carbon finish, this is one we recommend.
The Ghostek Atomic Slim stands out for its aluminum construction that's layered over a thermoplastic skeleton with rubberized bumpers. The look is sleek and industrialized, with lots of color options to choose from. The back of the case is completely clear, and you can see your phone through it. Two ventilation holes prevent moisture from getting trapped between the phone and the case, while the sides have rubberized grips. There are additional rubber bumpers in high-impact zones for added safety. We think this is one of the most protective phone options out there.
While we were first really excited about this case, we were sadly let down when testing button functionality. We found the buttons hard to press and had a "lag" effect. The silencer is also sunken into its slot, so it's quite hard to access without a long fingernail. Overall, it's hard to use, which earns it a lower ranking among the competition. Plus, it's quite expensive. If you don't mind smaller and hard-to-push buttons as a trade-off for superior protection, this is the one to buy.
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 gear categories, 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 market's best-selling and most highly rated options. 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 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 of our experiences as we put each case through specific tests to look at protection, ease of use, portability, style, and features.
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 found the Otterbox Defender Series to be 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, feature-laden case 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 boasts.
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 placing 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 silicone like the Miracase Liquid Silicone 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 daily. We tested for a variety of things in this metric. First, we assess the materials to see how good the grip is and whether it'll easily slip off a table or out of your hand. Second, we note how easy it is to install and remove a phone from 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 their rubberized designs. The Pelican Rouge is a bit smoother than the Defender, but both are grippy options.
Phone Insertion and Removal
Some people remove their phones from 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. The Miracase Liquid Silicone is the easiest as its entire body is made from flexible silicone. 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 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 case with large buttons that click and are independent of one another performs the best in this category. All the models 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 Silicone 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 slightly 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 Silicone, 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 Silicone, 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 Silicone 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 Silicone 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. The Ghostek Atomic Slim and X-Doria Defense Series both feature metal construction with rubberized bumpers that look 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 various 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. It has great protective features and comes with a holster that'll clip onto your belt buckle and can also convert into a super-solid kickstand. The Otterbox Defender holster has the most stable kickstand feature of all case options, but don't wish you didn't have to carry the holster to get the kickstand. Many 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 piece of plastic (though it seems a bit 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? Which uses 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 beefy rubberized gaskets. They don't scratch or 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 flimsier materials 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. To help, we've done all the tough work for you. Via our side-by-side comparisons, we assessed materials, features, style, protection, and more. We offer our recommendations to help you in your quest for finding the best case for your needs.
— Amber King