With even Apple's cheapest iPhones now selling for over AU$1000, it is extremely important to make sure you take appropriate steps to protect your investment by buying a case for it.
The sleek and now colorful designs of iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are tempting to show off but, left without protection, it's only going to be a matter of time before they lose their shine. Accidents happen and a quality iPhone case can mean the difference between a smashed screen and a small scratch.
A screen protector may be able to protect your screen from front-on impact and everyday scratches but more often than not a phone experiences the most impact around its edges and, for those situations, a screen protector just isn't going to cut it.
You can check out our full review of the iPhone 11 Pro here.
Pelican Shield Case
Buy it from Amazon
Pelican is well known for creating some of the toughest phone cases on the market and their Shield series is no exception.
Courtesy of five protective layers and genuine Kevlar fibers, this case exceeds military standards by 3 times. It has even been tested from heights of up to 24 feet. The case is made up of multiple latches that lock in the phone and comes with a belt clip and kick stand for media viewing. It is quite bulky but if you're looking for something that'll offset the potential cost of being clumsy, that's something you're probably going to be happy to live with.
Otterbox Symmetry Series
Otterbox's Symmetry Series of cases have always managed to eke out of a nice middle ground between ticking all the durability boxes you want out of a good case for your iPhone without overly inhibiting the slick form-factor.
While it lacks the cover found in some other iPhone, Otterbox have used a raised lip on the case to ensure the safety of the screen.
Otterbox's Symmetry Series are available in a ton of splashy colors and designs.
Urban Armor Gear Plasma Case
Buy it from Amazon
If you are looking for full-on protection without the bulkiness that comes with most heavy duty cases, the Urban Armor Gear Plasma might be the case for you. It's got a clean and futuristic design that makes for a stylish accessory.
Even with its light composite construction, this case meets military grade drop tests and even if you do still manage to destroy it, the case comes with a 1 year warranty.
In terms of accessibility, the Urban Armor Gear Plasma Case has been designed with oversized tactile buttons and easy access to the both your device's touchscreen and ports. It also won't interfere with wireless charging and NFC wireless payments like Apple Pay.
Lifeproof Fré Case
Lifeproof’s Fré case sit towards the more expensive end of phone cases. However, there's a reason for it.
Not only is it drop-proof, it's also water, dirt and snow resistant. Lifeproof say they've even been tested to survive drops of 6 feet and to be submerged 6 feet of water for up to 1 hour. Since it comes with extra screen and port protection, this case is the perfect case for the intrepid traveler.
The Lifeproof’s Fré case is one of the lighter and slimmer cases on the market and comes in several colors.
RhinoShield Solidsuit Case
Buy it from Amazon
RhinoShield have met the needs of many people and made military grade protection cute.
Sitting at 30g and 3mm thin, the RhinoShield Solidsuit case is one of the lightest protective cases you can find for the iPhone. There is also a huge range of designs that you can choose from.
RhinoShield have used a material called ShockSpread to reduce overall volume by 40% and overall thickness by 22%. They've also lined the interior of the case with a hexagonal patter with improves shock absorption by 10%. All together, this single piece case surpasses drop resistance of over 11 feet.
Mujjo Leather Wallet Case
Buy it from Amazon
If you want slim leather looks but aren't keen on a folio-style case, then Mujjo's iPhone cases might be your best bet. There are a few different designs available, so you've got the option of picking one with or without a stitched card pocket.
In line with other modern smartphone cases, the Mujjo Leather Wallet case is lined with Japanese microfiber and it features a raised bumped for additional screen protection.
Speck Presidio Grip Case
Buy it from Amazon
The Speck Presidio grip case is made up of two durable layers of protection and has 10 foot drop protection with Impactium shock barrier.
What's more, Speck have developed and incorporated raised rubber ridges that provide a no-slip grip, perfect for that awkward selfie hold. These raised bezels also provide extra screen protection.
The Speck Presido Grip Case is compatible with both Qi wireless charging and Apple Pay. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and there are several colours that you can choose from.
EFM Eco Case
Buy it from EFM
EFM's new Eco cases promise to be as protective as they are sustainable. They're made from plant-based and repurposed D3O materials. The new Eco case is available for all new iPhones (11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max) but not older models.
As for the protection it offers, EFM say that the case's "unique patented materials are based on non-Newtonian principles that are soft and flexible in a relaxed state but harden under pressure to dissipate impact energy and reduce impact force."
EFM Armour Cayman D30 Case
Buy it from Amazon
The EFM Armour Cayman D30 case features the latest generation of D30 protection material.
Despite reducing the size of the bumper to a thickness if 3.4mm, the case has still passed test drop testing of 19 feet. That's five times the military grade protection found in a lot of other cases!
EFM have also included a reinforced camera ring to protect your lens from being damaged, which sets it apart from a lot of other cases. Last but not least, there's a 2 year free replacement warranty.
Spigen Tough Armor Case
Buy it from Amazon
The Spigen Tough Armor case is a slim polycarbonate case that is made of dual layers and air cushion technology. It also has bumpers on 4 points of the phone, providing front and back panel protection.
Spigen have also ensured that there are large port entry points so that you don’t have to take off your case to charge with any cords. It is also wireless charging compatible.
Why should you buy a case for your Apple iPhone?
The short version is that, unless you’re wealthy enough that replacing a $1200 phone is no sweat, you should probably look at buying a case for your new Apple iPhone - regardless of whether it's an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to show off your new iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, you’re gonna want it to look good enough to brag about for as long as possible. And if you’re planning to try and sell your Apple iPhone smartphone secondhand later down the line, that whole process is going to be much easier if the back of the phone isn’t covered in scratches.
Lastly, if you’re the kind of person who worked in a rougher work environment or someone who’s notorious for dropping their phone, it’s always cheaper to invest in a quality phone case ahead of time rather than pay to price to repair your device later on.
Unless you’re loaded enough to not care, it just isn’t isn’t worth the risk.
How much should you spend on an Apple iPhone case?
As with anything, you generally get what you pay for when buying an iPhone case.
You should expect to spend between $50 and $100 if you want a decent protective case. It is possible to get some of the great cases above at a lower price point and all you really need to do is a bit of research and shop around. Sites like amazon, eBay and Catch are often cheaper than the manufacturer.
You will also often find that the decoratively designed cases go on sale as new graphics come out.
What should you look for in an Apple iPhone case?
There are four main things you should look for when shopping for a case to protect your Apple iPhone.
The first is drop resistance. Some brands use military specifications, others use their own testing process. Regardless of which way you go, you're going to want to aim for a level of drop resistance that's no less than 1.2-meters. MIL STD 810G-516.6, which can be found on a large majority of popular iPhone cases, covers this.
More drop protection is better but going higher is generally going to involve a bulkier design, which might not be for everyone.
The second thing you'll want to check is whether or not the case has been tested for whether it interferes with things like wireless charging and Apple Pay. These are modern connectivity features that you should expect to use when you spend the extra money on an expensive device like an iPhone. Having a case that inhibits or gets in the way of that functionality isn't a compromise you should have to live with.
The third thing you should look for is style. This is going to matter more to some people than others. Inevitably, wrapping your iPhone up in a case is going to diminish some of the beautiful designwork that Apple put into their phones. Most people like the way Apple phones look as much as they do feel and, while using phone cases is essential if you want your device to last, it's an uncomfortable compromise at best.
To compensate for this, some case brands have adopted their own styles. There are still plenty of transparent rubber cases out there but brands like Otterbox have pushed aesthetics and style to the forefront with stuff like their Symmetrry cases. It might not provide as much protection as something purely focused on durability but it's absolutely possible to get a phone case that still looks good.
It's also worth checking the reviews for the case brand you're looking to buy from, especially if it's the first time you're hearing from them.
The last thing you should look for is a comprehensive warranty. Some brands offer lifetime warranties. Others have more terms and conditions. Obviously, a longer warranty is better than a shorter one. It's not the be-all-end-all of the case purchasing but it something that you should factor in.
What does military grade drop-protection mean?
When case manufacturers like Lifeproof talk about military grade drop-protection, they're usually referring to MIL STD 810G-516.6. This isn't the only phone case durability standard out there but it is the most widespread. It's also the most problematic (see below).
What is MIL STD 810G?
Mil STD 810G (and more specifically MIL-STD 810G 516.6) is a standard used by the U.S. Military to gauge the durability of equipment.
Specifically, it involves dropping the device from a distance of four feet multiple times onto 2-inches of plywood to test for shock damage. Following each of the 26 drops involved, the faces, edges and corners of the device are assessed for damage.
However, just because a case says it meets military spec durability standards doesn't mean it was actually tested by the military or even in the same way.
See, the MILD STD 810G standard isn't actually enforced by any sort of independent body. If a case manufacturer says their case meets that standard, you just kinda have to take their word for it.
As part of the testing process, manufacturers are technically "allowed" to use up to five different samples, so it's possible that each case involved in the test might actually only be dropped a handful of times. There's no assurance that they used the same sample for the entirety of the testing process.
In addition, it's not always clear how those 26 drops are being divided. As a consumer, you have no idea whether those 26 drops have been evenly spread across the face, edge and corners of a device or whether they've privileged one aspect of the case's protective design over another.
The big other limitation here is that MIL STD 810G involves dropping a phone onto plywood - not concrete or marble or asphalt. In some ways, these conditions are pretty far from the situations in which you're to be dropping your phone.
Finally, since its up to the companies themselves to run the tests, whether or not a device passes or fails each drop test is ultimately something that the manufacturer gets to decide. Unfortunately, most of the time there's little to no transparency around it.
How to save money on an Apple iPhone smartphone cases
The fastest and easiest way to save money when it comes to buying a smartphone case for your Apple iPhone is to shop around and do your research.
Once you’ve found the case you want, it’s worth taking the time to check in on all the usual suspects like Amazon, eBay and Catch - as well as the manufacturers own website - to see who will offer you the best deal.
Another way to save money when buying a phone case for your new Apple iPhone is to go in on multiple cases with friends.
Given the actual size of the package involved, it always feels like you’re paying a little much in shipping for a single case. If you go in with a friend (or two) and split the difference here, you can definitely save some money.