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This is a design-change year for the iPhone, which means last year’s iPhone 11 cases won’t fit the new iPhone 12 models, which include the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, as well as the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini. Apple has returned to a square-edged design that harkens back to the iPhone 5 and 5S. If you’re trying to decide between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, the good news — from a case standpoint anyway — is that those models are identical in size and take the same case. The iPhone 12 Max and iPhone 12 Mini haven’t arrived yet, but cases are already available for those models.
Read more: iPhone 12 drop test results are in
Note that all the new iPhone 12 models are equipped with Apple’s new MagSafe feature, which allows faster wireless charging with a compatible charger. It also supports optional accessories — including a mini wallet — that adhere magnetically to the back of your phone. The new iPhones are embedded with what Apple describes as “an array of magnets” (Apple says they’re recycled) around a centered charging coil that can pull up to 15 watts of power. That’s twice as powerful as wireless charging on previous iPhones, but on par with the power that many Android phones can draw from standard Qi wireless chargers.
You’ll need an Apple MagSafe charger or an Apple-approved MagSafe charger from a third-party accessory maker to get the 15-watt charging speeds, but your phone will still charge at up to 7.5 watts with standard wireless chargers that support that speed or higher. Most of the cases on this list are compatible with wireless charging, but we haven’t tested them yet with Apple’s MagSafe charger. We’ll add those results once we get the relevant devices in the coming days.
In addition to MagSafe results, I’ll be updating this list with new options as they continue to arrive. In the meantime, this list is based on case brands we’ve grown to like on previous iPhones. Finally, many of these links go straight to the manufacturer’s website for now, but the cases should appear at Amazon and other retailers in the near future.
Read more: The best phone to buy for 2020
In the last year, Speck came out with some new case designs for the iPhone 11 and they’re now available for the iPhone 12. Because I have expensive tastes, I personally like the $60 Presido2 Armor Cloud (white model on the right in the photo). But the Presidio2 Pro (gray case in the photo) is also excellent. If you want a clear case, Speck has several models to choose from, including the Presidio Perfect-Clear with Grips.
All the new models have very good drop protection (13 to 16 feet, depending on the model) as well as Speck’s Microban antimicrobial protection. The cases start at $40 in various color options, but Speck does give you 30% off on your first order on its website.
If you’re looking for a cheap clear case for your new iPhone 12, Spigen’s Ultra Hybrid is a good value at around $12 to $15, depending on the trim color or which version of iPhone 12 you have (yes, there are a few color options).
No drop rating is listed for the case, but it feels like Spigen’s transparent cases offer reasonable protection. If you want stronger protection, Spigen’s Tough Armor case is an option for $17, but I personally prefer Spigen’s Ultra and Neo Hybrid cases. Note that a lot of these cheaper clear cases have a habit of turning yellow and degrading over time (and becoming less translucent), but they’re cheap enough that you probably won’t mind shelling out for a replacement if that happens.
I’ve become a recent fan of Clckr’s cases, which feature a built-in stand and grip strap that folds out and clicks into place on the back of your phone. Clckr sells just the stand-strap accessory to stick on the back of your phone or on a case, but the case with the integrated stand accessory is better and comes in a few different styles, including clear (I like the Saffiano blue but it’s currently only available in black). Clear models start at $30.
The cases aren’t rugged but they’re protective enough, with raised edges to protect the screen. The one I’ve used with my iPhone 11 Pro for the last four months has held up well.
With the stand clicked in place, you can use your device hands-free in either portrait or landscape mode. Note that you can wirelessly charge your phone with this case on, though you have to be more careful about placing it in the right spot on a wireless charging pad for it to work. The new models have antimicrobial protection.
I only recently learned that Cyrill is a sister brand to Spigen and its cases are arguably slightly better, although they cost a few bucks more. We’re linking to the Leather Brick case, pictured here in tan and navy (it’s faux “vegan” leather), but the $17 Silicone case (pictured in light blue) and transparent $17 Cecile cases are also good. The Silicone case is basically a knockoff of Apple’s Silicone case without the MagSafe feature.
The company’s superprotective Defender series case is available for all the iPhone 12 models, but most people want something less bulky. The Symmetry series is slim with beveled edges, making it a good mix of sleek and protective. A raised bumper helps act as a screen protector.
Multiple color options are available, including clear, and I’m digging the clear version of the Symmetry Plus Pop case, pictured in the middle, which integrates a PopSockets PopGrip (it’s wireless charging-compatible, which is important). Prices range from $50 to $60 (AU$59, £29). OtterBox offers a discount for first-time buyers on its site.
OtterBox’s Commuter case offers slightly more protection and is also pretty slim and has grips on the back for, yes, a little added grip.
As noted, your new iPhone 12 includes Apple’s new MagSafe feature, which allows you to attach accessories to its back, including a new wireless charger and a leather wallet. Those accessories will still stick to your phone if you have a standard thin case, but not nearly as well as if you use one of Apple’s MagSafe cases, which have their own set of embedded magnets that line up with the magnets in your phone.
Apple’s Clear Case with MagSafe is nice because it allows you to show off your phone’s colored finish and the embedded markings tell you exactly where to attach the MagSafe charger for optimal charging speeds (you apparently need Apple’s 20-watt USB-C charging to get the maximum 15-watt wireless charging speeds). The only issue with the clear case is that it leaves the bottom of your phone exposed.
If that bothers you, the Silicone case (pictured, left) with MagSafe is the better option. It works the same way as the Clear case does, with an embedded magnet ring, you just can’t see it. The Silicone case is available in eight color options.
Getting into the MagSafe ecosystem isn’t a cheap proposition, but it is fun to play with magnetic objects and offers some conveniences. The bottom line is that if you do want to venture into this and to protect your phone with a case, you’re best off with one of Apple’s cases or another MagSafe-certified case.
British case-maker Gear4, now owned by Zagg, makes cases that are right there with OtterBox and Speck, all of them lined with the company’s D3O shock-absorbing material and featuring beveled edges to protect your phone. My favorites include (from left to right) the Wembley Palette, Crystal Palace Iridescent, Battersea and Piccadilly. All of them are rated for 13-foot drop protection and the Battersea is rated for 16 feet. They range in price from $30 to around $50.
X-Doria’s Raptic series cases come in a variety of styles and cost a little less than competing premium cases from Speck and OtterBox. The thicker Raptic Shield (pictured on left) costs $30 while the Raptic Air (pictured on right), which I personally like, is $40. The Shield has 10-foot drop protection while the Air is rated for 13-foot drop protection. Both have an antimicrobial treatment.
Casetify’s cases are known for their eye-catching designs (that are stuck onto the back of a clear case). They’re relatively slim, sleek-looking cases that offer decent protection and come in a variety of design patterns, with some definite appeal to teenagers. Some of the designs are hit-or-miss but I liked the samples I got. I should note that prices appear to have gone up. Casetify cases used to be more in the $40 to $50 range, but they now start at $55. In time, the prices should come down a bit.
Rokform’s been making tough iPhone cases for years and aside from their durability, their key feature is the ability to use them with various mounts — including bike and motorcycle mounts — that are sold separately. I personally prefer the Crystal Series but the Rugged case is slightly more, well, rugged.
Rokform’s cases have removable magnets and they’re compatible with wireless charging if you remove the included center magnet. “With the lower magnet still intact, you can still wireless-charge while utilizing magnetic mounting and all of our mounts,” Rokform says.
Brooklyn-based Casely makes “cute and protective” cases that have a variety of graphic artists behind their designs. They’re more affordable than Casetify cases, with the Casely site currently offering 25% off all cases with the code GIFT25. I liked some of the samples I got but the truth is there are plenty more designs that will catch your eye once you hit the site. The cases usually cost $25, but the discount brings it to around $19.
The OtterBox Figura is essentially a more eye-catching version of Apple’s own silicone MagSafe case, which allows you to attach accessories to its back, including a new wireless charger and a leather wallet. Those accessories will still stick to your phone if you have a standard thin case, but not nearly as well as if you use one of Apple’s MagSafe cases, which have their own set of embedded magnets that line up with the magnets in your phone.
The Figura is OtterBox’s thinnest case, but it’s still reasonably protective, although its edges aren’t raised quite as high around the screen as other OtterBox cases. It comes in four colors (Dandelion wine is pictured here). The bright color of the case does make your phone easier to spot for those in the habit of losing their device in plain sight. Alas, darker cases tend to blend into darker objects.
BodyGuardz was initially known for its screen protectors, but in recent years it’s put out some interesting iPhone cases. I personally like the $45 Harmony (pictured left), which has a more square bottom. The Stack (picture in the middle) is $40 while the Avenue (on right) is $45. They come in a few color options.
Smartish’s affordable, simple, slim cases and wallet cases return for the iPhone 12. The Wallet Slayer 2.0 case (pictured on left and right) costs a little more now ($25) but comes in a variety of designs. It holds three credit cards plus cash and you can use one of your credit cards as a kickstand.
Smartish also sells a simple translucent case for $15.
UK-based Torro makes some nice leather-clad cases that aren’t too expensive (leather cases tend to cost over $50). The Torro Leather Bumper ($38) is a pretty straightforward bumper case with a leather back while the Wallet Case ($40) is a bit swankier overall, has a magnetic clasp and multiple card slots and converts into a stand for video viewing. It’s one of the better folio wallet cases you’ll find for the money. Both are available in multiple color options.
Like Lifeproof, Catalyst made a name for itself with waterproof cases, but it now focuses on standard protective cases and has two new models for the iPhone 12: the Vibe (left) and Influence (right), which has a see-through frosted back. Both cases have perforations on the corners that allow you to attach various accessories (sold separately), such as lanyards and carabiners. The Vibe is rated for 10-foot drop protection while the Influence is rated for 15 feet.
Mous makes several cases that have eye-catching designs, all lined with the company’s AiroShock material that, according to the company, delivers excellent protection in a slim design. They do seem durable and all include a lifetime warranty.
While Mous makes a transparent case, I like the cases in Mous’ Limitless 3.0 line, which are compatible with the company’s Limitless 3.0 accessories. That includes a wallet that magnetically adheres to the back of the case and a few mounts, one of which is an air-vent mount for your car.
It’s also worth noting that these Mous cases are the only ones I’ve seen that have a SIM card storage slot on the inside of the smartphone case for international travelers in the habit of swapping SIM cards.
I’ve always liked Moshi cases and its iGlaze, Altra and Vitros (pictured from left to right) return for the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max. The Altra is the most distinct-looking and has a geometric rubber finish that makes your phone nice and grippy. It also includes a lanyard. Not pictured is the Overture (coming soon), a two-in-one folio wallet case. You fit your iPhone into a slim shell case that then magnetically adheres to the cover, which has slots for storing credit cards and cash. Moshi’s cases range in price from $25 to $50.
Nomad makes a line of nice iPhone 12 Horween leather cases that are designed to develop a “rugged” patina as the oils from your skin interact with them over time. The new Rugged cases are available in black, brown and a lighter natural color that I like. They’re rated for 10-foot (3-meter) drop protection. The standard Rugged case runs around $50, while the Rugged Folio version, which has a flap that covers the screen, costs $70.
You know all those compact discs you no longer listen to? Well, Nimble makes translucent iPhone cases out of them. They’re a little pricey at $40 but some of us like the idea of protecting the latest technology with recycled technology and don’t mind paying a little extra for that. They have antimicrobial protection, are scratch-resistant and aren’t supposed to turn yellow over time. While the Disc Case is slim, it’s rated for six-foot drop protection. Use code CNET25 for 25% OFF any Disc Case, bringing the price down to $30.
Case-Mate makes a variety of color cases, some of which have glitter integrated into their translucent designs. I only got a look at the twinkle ombre case, but the iridescent soap bubble and tough groove cases also look cool.
If selfies are your thing, then you’re probably aware of LuMee cases that have built-in lighting. This Paris Hilton-endorsed Holographic version has an iridescent design. It charges via USB-C and gives you 30 minutes of “studio lighting” at full brightness. The case does allow wireless charging and you can adjust the brightness levels of the light.
I wasn’t a fan of earlier Pelican cases, which were very protective but just a little too bulky (and ugly), but in the last couple of years (starting with the iPhone 11), the company, now owned by Case-mate, added some slimmer designs, including two that I like: the Protector (pictured, middle in camo color) and the Rogue (at left and right), which has a soft rubber bubbled pattern.
Apple upgraded the cameras in its iPhone 12 models, with the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max offering step-up camera options (the iPhone Max is the best in the imaging department). But a select few accessory makers like Moment allow you to enhance your shooting with add-on lenses and filters. Sold separately from the case, the lenses aren’t cheap, but they are high-quality.
Moment’s iPhone cases include an insertable mount that can be removed when you’re not playing around with any optional lenses, which are easy to attach. Its Thin Case is a simple but attractive rubberized case made of compostable bioplastic that’s rated for six-foot drop protection. Cases with wood and canvas on their backs are also available. They all ship in November.
Razer, which makes laptops and gaming accessories (among other products), also makes iPhone “gaming” cases. They have something called Thermaphene-Based Heat Dissipation that “redirects trapped heat through a thermally conductive lining adjacent to vented airflow channels to significantly improve cooling compared with traditional cases.” It’s a bit of a gimmick, but it seems to help a little when you’re playing graphics-intensive games for long periods.
Razer had a slim Arctech case for the iPhone 11, but right now it only has the Arctech Pro for the iPhone 12 models. It’s been redesigned from last year’s Arctech Pro — it seems even more protective — and adds an antibacterial coating.