Best Smartphone Cases for iPhone and Android
Which models are the best smartphone cases on the market currently? Repair Sharks has been repairing phones for 10 years now and over that time we have seen thousands of broken screens, water damaged iphones, scratches, dents, and bends on just about every mainstream phone out there. So what can you do to better protect yourself from a bad drop or cracking your expensive OLED screens? The answer is simple, protect your device with a case that actually works.
In this post we will discuss a few brands of cases that actually work and how they fair up against the competition. We have done a repair frequency comparison to major case brand models to find out what we think are the best smartphone cases. We will be reviewing brands such as Ballistic, Incipio, LifeProof, OtterBox, PureGear, RhinoShield, Speck, Spigen, and Tech21.
Each category is rated between 1-5 points for each brand. Highest score is 30 being the best case and 5 points being the lowest quality. Pricing is 1 star being most expensive, 5 stars being least expensive. Repair Frequency is 1 being most repaired and 5 being least repaired.
Reviews of each brand are broken down under the graph.
5-10 points = low quality case
11-20 points = Fair Quality
21-25 points = Good Quality
26-30 points – Best Quality
Best Smartphone Cases Comparison
|Size / Footprint||4||4||4||2||3||5||4||4||5|
|Variety / Colors||5||4||4||5||4||4||5||4||4|
Rhino Shield wins Best Case
Rhino Shield – Coming in 1st place and one of the best smartphone cases we have found, Rhino Shield Crashguard. Rhino Shield provides a perfect balance between price, superior drop protection, durability, and variety. Pricing wise Rhino Shield is one of the cheapest out there coming in about $10 cheaper than Apple’s bumper design and cheaper than our next favorite case Ballistic. Cases range from $25-$30 retail.
Rhino Shield cases have also shown to reduce repair frequency significantly. From the 200 or so cases we have sold we have had not one customer come back with a broken screen in the months following. They are drop tested to 11.5 feet but our staff decided to put this to the test. Additionally this is one of the smallest cases available being only a bumper style case. Their honeycomb technology seems to do an amazing job of protecting the phone. Unfortunately they only make these cases for a select number of phones. From what we were told by their engineers the case design doesn’t work well with larger heavier devices such as an iPad.
Test 1 – Thrown in air in street about 25feet. Amazingly there was no break on the glass after watching our test phone bounce across the concrete.
Test 2 through 2500 – Yeah we pummeled this case about 2500 times on a variety of different materials including our wood desk (busted the desk but not the phone), metal door frame, metal staircase, wood staircase, wood floor, concrete floor, and tile floor. We couldn’t break the glass. Actually we smashed the phone so many times that the glass fell off the phone since the internal frame mount for the glass couldn’t handle being smashed that many times nor could the adhesive that Apple uses to bond the frame to the glass hold up. The case held together better than the phone itself.
Customer feedback – the few customers we actually got to see again have thanked us for this case and have all since enjoyed it.
Ballistic comes in a close 2nd
Ballistic – In a close 2nd place for the best smartphone case award we have Ballistic. A long time favorite of Repair Sharks, Ballistic has been a tried and true case since the beginning. These guys got it right with providing maximum protection for a phone. They build each of their cases with oversized corner protection, one of the major keys to a quality case. A feature most case manufacturers actually miss. We see 9 out of 10 of the breaks on these devices being caused by corner damage. The glass on the iPhone is actually rather durable however when you hit the phone on an edge the glass will crack much easier than a direct impact. Ballistic protects these corners much better than any other case.
Ballistic also offers a wide variety of cases, more so than Rhino Shield although slightly less than Speck. We still gave it 5 stars due to having a few variations of their cases from minimalist to extreme protection. They offer a variety of colors for each product line including their Jewel single piece design, SG multi-part design, and Maxx models. Cases range from $20-50 on average.
Ballistic also offers one of the best iPad cases on the market we have found.
Customer Feedback – “I threw my phone against a brick wall and it bounced back at me, I was trying to break my phone and I couldn’t”. We’ve actually seen this happen.
Another customer said “my phone flew off my car after I left it on my roof pumping gas and went back to get it after I realized I didn’t have it. I found the phone in the street and it didn’t have a crack on it”
Tech21 scores 3rd Place
Tech21 – A terrific overall case that provides decent drop protection, small footprint, and a variety of colors. Their cases provide impact protection using their own design. They are able to keep the case slim and clean. We have noticed some of their clear versions of cases do fade over time or become yellowish however this can be common with any clear type case over time. The case itself however holds up fine over time as they are single piece designs. Cases range from $30-40
Tied for 4th place in our best smartphone cases comparison – Incipio, OtterBox, and Puregear, Spigen
These three brands are good, not amazing or ground breaking. They are decent cases but for the price and protection level you do have other options to consider. For one, we have seen a steady stream of OtterBox repairs in our shops especially with their older designs. We think they had it backwards for a while and this is why we reduced their score. Originally many of the OtterBox cases did the opposite of cases such as Ballistic. They put the rubber on the outside of the 2 part shell whereas Ballistic puts the rubber on the inside and the plastic shell on the outside. Having this reverse design we think has caused many of the breaks. Think “plastic on glass” with no buffer. The rubber buffer was on the outside so if a hard enough drop occurred and the force was transfered through the outside rubber layer it would result in the plastic smashing the glass. These cases typically range from $30-50
Puregear – They make some simpler designed cases, they don’t always look for superior drop protection over design and usability aspects such as a kickstand or holster. Cases range from $25-40
Incipio – Although they make some handy cases such as card holding cases, or dualpro they don’t provide superior drop protection. They are focused on features similar to PureGear. Cases range from $25-40
Spigen – These are quality cases but some of the newer models we have tested especially for the S6 edge and S7 edge have not held up well and in fact do not offer great protection. The cases and designs do look nice though and they have a decent track record for protection just not the highest. Cases range from $25-40
The bottom two – Lifeproof and Speck
These are probably the two of the most common cases on the market today. We have some qualms about both of these designs.
Lifeproof – We call Lifeproof the “jack of all trades, ace of none” amongst our case comparison. It’s ok for dropping, ok for water, but not great at either. The phone will break if dropped hard and they are also prone to leaking. Once the case has been installed it is highly advisable to not open the case again unless you want to risk ruining your water seal. We have seen this happen a number of times with water damaged iPhones in LifeProof cases. Their phone replacement warranty is very hard to qualify for and we have seen a few legitimately failing cases not actually qualify for a replacement. They do however provide one important feature that very few cases offer and that is some sort of water protection for occasional mishaps. We don’t advise going swimming with this case but if you get thrown in the pool by your friends than it should hold up. Most expensive cases in our comparison, roughly $60-90
If you insist on taking your phone into the water then there are alternate options such as DryCase that offer up to 100ft depth of water protection. This is not an actual case but more so a bag that can be vacuum sealed to prevent pressure leaks at deep water levels.
Speck – Great designs, and colors that appeal to a large audience but that’s where we stop. We have seen some improvements over their earlier designs but Speck is by far the most frequent case we see in our shops. They don’t seem to hold up well to drops at all although we have heard some of their more recent changes have helped a bit. They seem to still be trying to catch up to the far superior designs. Cases range from $20-40
Overall, we feel both Evolutive Labs Rhino Shield and Ballistic provide superior drop protection to just about anything available on the market. These are the two best smartphone cases we have currently found. We are sure there are some other brands out there that offer great protection but these are our mainstream brands that we see and deal with the most. Although we mostly tested iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones we believe that for these models Rhino Shield and Ballistic were the best smartphone cases available and offer a great protective case to prevent cracks, frame damage, and normal wear and tear.
Feel free to comment and add your input to our best smartphone cases writeup. We love hearing from our readers and customers and want to know your take on the best cases out on the market. We will also follow up with some of the specific models we recommend for each brand.
This is an impartial review and although we are vendors of all the major brands we strive to offer our customers the best advice possible. We love getting to know and meet you but we would rather you leave our shop knowing you got the best advice the first time than come back telling us we recommended something that doesn’t work well for you.
If you are interested in any of the brands mentioned above or have recommendations for new brands please contact us.