Best Cheap iPhone Cases
There's no denying it: An iPhone is a big expense. Even with a low upfront price under contract, the current models cost many hundreds of dollars to replace. Users naturally want to protect their phones; Apple has found that 78 percent of iPhone owners buy cases. After spending so much on the phone and plan, many consumers don't want to drop another $100 on a case, but the cheapest iPhone cases don't provide sufficient protection. Look to spend between $10 and $20 for a case that will keep an iPhone safe through the daily grind.
Our Top Pick
New Trent Alixo Review
In New Trent Alixo reviews, users give this iPhone case -- available for the iPhone 5/5S, 6, and 6 Plus -- overwhelmingly high ratings. Experts and consumers laud the fairly uncommon design, which protects the phone from all angles without adding bulk. Hard, scratch-resistant polycarbonate covers both the front and the back of the phone; this is the only one of our top picks that includes a built-in screen protector. The edges are made of TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane, which is more rubbery than plastic and better at absorbing shock.
Users who have posted reviews on Amazon praise the combination of materials, noting that the TPU sides make the phone feel secure in the hand. The enhanced grip is especially beneficial for owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, in light of reports that the slim, new models tend to be slippery. In terms of performance, the New Trent Alixo (starting at $16, Amazon) has earned numerous testimonials for protecting phones from somewhat dramatic drops, curious and destructive kids, and even small liquid spills. It's important to note, though, that this case is not waterproof.
CNET praises the sleek look of the New Trent Alixo in a roundup of the best iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cases. Consumers like that the case is transparent, so the Apple logo and the design of the iPhone itself remain visible. Users want to show off the latest iPhones, which come in gold, silver, or space gray. To match the phones, the case comes with two front covers, one rimmed with black and one with white.
The New Trent Alixo incorporates covers for the ports on the bottom of the iPhone, which makes them a bit difficult to access but also keeps out dust and other potentially harmful agents. There are some minor complaints that the case is hard to put on and the front panel causes a faint rainbow effect, like oil in water.
One concern we saw consistently: The newest iPhones come with a fingerprint scanner built in to the home button, and the screen protector built into this case tends to interfere with that feature, requiring a few tries to get it to work. That's the biggest strike against this case in the eyes of experts at The Wirecutter, who otherwise admire the level of protection for the money. Users advise that you have to peel back the membrane that covers the home button in order to make the fingerprint sensor work. Many consumers consider this an easy fix and are otherwise fully satisfied with the case. Its invisible look, sleek design, and reliable protection make it a winner.
Incipio NGP Review
Named the top iPhone 6 case out of nearly 100 tested by The Wirecutter, the Incipio NGP (starting at $9, Amazon) is also available for iPhones 5/5S and 6 Plus. This thin case is constructed of Incipio's trademarked Flex2O, a versatile polymer material that combines the properties hard plastic and rubber. It allows the case to resist scratches and tears while providing some shock absorbence and grip. On Amazon one reviewer describes it as a nice middle ground between hard and soft. Others note that the material keeps the phone from sliding on a flat surface and, most important, helps the phone survive an accidental drop.
The Wirecutter found that some cases made from a similar and commonly used material known as TPU tend not to fit so well, but the Incipio NGP is an exception. All the ports and buttons are easily accessible and accommodate cables (for headphones, etc.) from companies other than Apple. Although the iPhone doesn't fit on a dock while wearing this case, according to reviews, users say it's easy to remove.
The Incipio NGP doesn't come with a screen protector, which doesn't escape notice in customer reviews on Amazon, where some users report damaged screens. Still, it does have a lip that prevents the front of the phone from touching a surface when it's facedown. Testers at The Wirecutter measured the lip at 0.6 millimeters -- under Apple's official recommendation of 1 mm but enough to provide some protection. On the upside, the ring/silent switch is easier to access and the case doesn't add too much girth to the phone. The Incipio NGP for iPhone 6 measures 0.38 inches (compared with the 0.27-inch depth of the phone itself). There's enough of a buffer to provide protection, reviewers say, without altering the feel of the phone too much.
The Incipio NGP is available in an array of colors, depending on the model, including black, translucent blue, translucent pink, and translucent red (which some reviewers note is more coral or peachy in color). The translucence allows the Apple logo on the back of the phone to show through. Overall, reviewers conclude you can't really go wrong with the Incipio NGP.
Luvvitt Clearview Review
This transparent case appeals to consumers who want to protect the iPhone without completely covering it up, according to Luvvitt Clearview reviews. Available for the iPhone 5/5S, 6, and 6 Plus, the Luvvitt Clearview (starting at $10, Amazon) is a hybrid case made of rubbery TPU on the sides and rigid plastic on the back. The plastic has a scratch-resistant coating to protect the case from scratches and scuffs. Consumers reviewing the iPhone 6 case on Amazon (where it's a No. 1 best-seller) commend the Luvvitt Clearview for providing solid protection in a compact package and adding grip to the slippery iPhone 6. More than 1,000 reviewers have awarded it an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
The Luvvitt Clearview case covers the buttons on the sides of the iPhone (such as the volume control), which protects the buttons but can also make them slightly stiff; they may require a little extra effort to press. Users report that they do loosen up with time, and the full coverage of this case gives many reviewers peace of mind. All the ports, including the headphone jack, are fully accessible. This case does not include a screen protector; many reviewers mention having purchased one separately. However, the Luvvitt Clearview does have a lip that prevents the phone's screen from touching a flat surface when it's lying facedown.
Reviewers admire the unobtrusive look of the Luvvitt Clearview. Many users want to show off the silver, gold, or space gray finish of a new iPhone model. For some, leaving the Apple logo visible is also desirable. Luvvitt offers options with clear back panels and colored bumpers, so that the back of the phone is visible and the sides are colored. One recurring complaint about this case is that lint and dirt can get caught between the case and the phone, potentially damaging the iPhone's surface. This can also cause the phone to appear dirty.
Performance reviews often note that the Luvvitt Clearview fits well, whether it's encasing an iPhone 5/5S, 6, or 6 Plus, and that iPhones in this case have survived drops without damage. Luvvitt promises a lifetime warranty for this case (not for the phone inside -- a crucial distinction), and overall it's an excellent choice at a low price.
Insignia Case Review
Cases from Insignia, a Best Buy brand, provide minimalist protection for the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. The Insignia Case (starting at $9, Amazon) has earned high ratings from Best Buy customers, who praise its design and performance. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns with slightly different model numbers -- NS-A64T2B for a black iPhone 6 case, for example, and NS-A64T2BW for a blue and white "watercolor" design. Model numbers for the iPhone 6 Plus cases begin with NS-A65T2.
These Insignia cases are made of TPU. They are slim and sleek, preserving the svelte profile of the newest iPhone models while protecting them from minor drops and bumps. Users appreciate that the case doesn't add bulk and the phone still slides into a pocket.
This is a simple case that's very easy to put on and fits the iPhone 6 models well, according to reviews. A YouTube video review demonstrates that the phone simply snaps down into the case and doesn't easily slip out. The Insignia case offers no screen protection aside from a small lip to keep the glass from sitting flush against a surface that could scratch it. Reviewers generally concur that this case is a solid choice, although some warn that it protects only against minor drops and scuffs; they wouldn't recommend it to people who are prone to dropping their phones.
The Insignia Case comes with a one-year limited warranty (for the case, not the phone inside). Consumers like the simple, slim design and say the case is easy to put on their iPhone 6 models. For users who aren't too rough with their phones, this is an affordable, basic, attractive iPhone case.
Invellop Prime Series Dual Layer Case Review
The Invellop Prime Series Dual-Layer Premium Armor Hybrid Bumper Cover (starting at $9, Amazon) is made for the iPhone 6. It has a two-piece design, with a hard outer plastic shell and an inner TPU core. The inner piece is black and the outer one comes in an array of color options: black, blue, green, gray, brown, orange, pink, purple, and silver. Beveled edges and a small raised ridge around the front of the phone promise screen protection.
However rugged the case looks, some reports about the fit and functionality are troubling. One Invellop case review posted on Amazon says the phone slides and slips around in the case and another echoes that the phone feels like it might bounce out of the case if dropped. Other dismayed Amazon customers have found that this case breaks after a short period or after only one drop, according to reviews. Several users view this as an acceptable temporary solution but not a case that would stand the test of time or protect the phone through any degree of use and abuse. There's no mention of a manufacturer's warranty for this product.
While it certainly has an attractive price tag, the Invellop case doesn't seem worth the risk. Reviews suggest that the iPhone could fall out, the ports and buttons may be compromised, and the case itself is prone to damage.
Incase Snap Case Review
The Incase Snap Case (starting at $10, Amazon) comes in a wide variety of colors and designs for the iPhone 5/5S. Consumers can find this case festooned with a chevron pattern, animal print, polka dots, graphics such as florals, pop art, typography, and so on. That's one of the only positive things reviewers have to say about the case, though, and the designs generally cost more than the solid colors.
While consumer reviewers posting on Amazon like the look and minimal bulk of the Incase Snap Case, many are disappointed to report that it flakes and chips at the corners or has failed to protect a dropped iPhone. They gripe that this case is made of low-quality plastic, with no rubbery material as a complement. This hard-shell construction makes the case ineffective at absorbing shock. Some also note that the slick plastic makes it easy to lose your grip on the phone -- a bad combination. The design has open ends to provide easy access to buttons and ports but also leaves the buttons and edges vulnerable to damage.
Any price advantage is rendered moot if you have to replace a damaged or broken case, and this type of plastic shell makes an untrustworthy protector for an expensive iPhone. Better to spend a few extra bucks on a more durable case that provides better protection for the precious cargo inside.