Case for a new phone
December 6, 2019 10:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm finally biting the bullet and getting protection for my new phone. I'm not sure what I need though and was hoping for some recommendations. Every other phone I've had had shattered the screen and I realize this is avoidable with proper precautions.

I do love how thin and light the phones feel without cases, which is why I've avoided getting one for so long, so ideally I'd like something that isn't too bulky. My first thought was one of those screen protectors, but I'm not sure if that's just for scratches, or if it actually helps prevent impacts from shattering the screen as well.

Otherwise I've looked at both otter box and spigen, but otterbox seems too bulky and spigen it isn't clear if they protect the screen. Is there any other companies I should be looking at?

I've a Pixel 3a coming, so any specific recommendations would be great for that specific phone.
posted by Carillon to Technology (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i have been a long time user of the speck phone cases. i have only used them with iphones but i don't see why they'd be less good for pixels. they are mostly slim, come in fun colors, and i've never shattererd a screen, though they don't come with a screen covering, but do have a "bumper" so that if you lay it flat on it's face it's not touching anything.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:53 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would look at the brands sold in the Apple Store (looks like that's Belkin, Decoded, Incase, Lander, Moment, Mophie, Native Union, OtterBox, Pela, PopSockets, Quad Lock and Tech21) and then see if you can buy one of those brands for Pixel. My reasoning is that Apple only sells a few brands and they offer a great warranty, so logically they would only stock brands that they expect to last long enough (and protect the phone well enough) to make the consumer's warranty purchases worthwhile to them.

Also, definitely consider getting a tempered glass stick on front thingie- Apple Store guy was adamant that it was a great idea when I bought an iPhone.

Wirecutter is also a good review site for this kind of thing although in a quick search I didn't see Pixel cases listed.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2019

I do two things- I buy the stick-on screen protectors (the plastic film, not the glass), and I buy a cheap snap-on case from eBay in whatever silly color combo makes me smile. I've done this enough with no shatters that I think it really doesn't matter much what your case is as long as you have one.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

My iPhone was in an Spigen case when it fell face down on an airplane bathroom floor (euuughhh) and totally shattered. Cases can be helpful for preventing body and corner damage but most of them won't (and don't promise to) protect the screen.

I have dropped my phone many times with a tempered glass screen protector on it, and cracked/shattered the protector just once -- but without any damage to my phone screen. I have used various brands available on Amazon but none for your specific phone, though I'd be happy to names share if it's helpful.
posted by sm1tten at 11:07 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Might look at a bumper, which protects the edges without adding thickness.
posted by at at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2019

After I shattered my screen, I ended up buying the Belkin glass screen protector from Apple. I’m not sure it works better than the plastic ones, but I have yet to shatter either of the screens I’ve had since then. Then again, I have not dropped my phone onto a protruding steel metal bit again, either, so YMMV.
posted by Alterscape at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2019

I have an Otterbox Symmetry series case on my iPhone X, along with a sticky tempered-glass screen protector. I've dropped it several times, no damage. The Symmetry is available for the Pixel 3a, and it's a very very thin case - it shouldn't feel bulky at all to you.
posted by hanov3r at 11:16 AM on December 6, 2019

I have never had my screen break from being dropped and I drop my phone a lot. The only time I've broken a screen was when I left my phone on top of my car by accident and it fell off and got run over, and even then the phone still worked. I think it's because the case I get has a raised edge around the screen so the screen never touches the ground, and the material is hard plastic. The brand I get only makes iPhone cases but these seem to be the key factors for effectiveness.
posted by bleep at 11:39 AM on December 6, 2019

I buy the cheapest silicone cases and never shattered a phone despite dropping them all over on tiled floors that regularly kill dropped dishes and such. The key is finding one that sticks out beyond the screen, so that no part of the screen can touch the floor when dropped.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:52 PM on December 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

Define the attributes that work for you:
I like jelly cases because they make the phone easier to grip. If you put your phone in your pocket, look for a smooth case.
I want a very bright color because 2 friends have such similar cases, we have taken each others' phones home-ymmv.
I use a magnetic holder in the car and want a case that will accommodate a metal piece.
Ideally, I'd like a clip, but they never seem sturdy.
A stand seems like a nice idea, but I haven't seen a wallet or stand case I love.
I attach a strap, so the case has to have someplace to attach the strap.

Given multiple broken screens, I'd look for military-grade in the description, maybe a note on testing. It's only mildly reliable, but it's something. Agree that a bezel around the screen is very protective. I drop my phone often, have never cracked a screen.

Also, I put an email address and google voice number on the case, because many phones get misplaced, and it's hard for honest finders to locate the owner. The note says Reward because replacing my phone is a huge hassle. Left it in the library yesterday, but remembered before I got to the car.
posted by theora55 at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2019

I have had a screen crack twice from dropping it, and I wouldn’t say the case itself saved it (but it helped.) But what did save my phone was a tempered screen glass protector. I got one off amazon, I don’t think the brand really mattered because I’ve gotten various ones and they all worked! My glass screen protector shattered but my screen itself was fine. I would look into a bumper too. I’ve dropped my phone face flat on itself and my $50 case did absolutely nothing. It wasn’t cracked at all, but the impact killed the screen. I think a bumper would have saved me the repair cost.
posted by buttonedup at 1:28 PM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

For the glass protector, have them put it on at the kiosk or store. This way it's done properly, without dust specks and so on.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just got a new iPhone and the first thing I did was buy a tempered glass protector called Invisible Shield from Zagg. These things are the best at protecting your screen from shattering--I had one on the iPhone 6 I just traded in and, with the Incipio case I added to the back, it never broke despite being dropped on the floor numerous times. In fact, it was in such good shape the Apple person commented on it. Seems Zagg sells protectors for the Pixel, but I don't know if they sell them for the model you're getting. If they don't, I suspect any good quality tempered glass protector coupled with a back case will work.
posted by lassie at 2:11 PM on December 6, 2019

Otterbox. I've had the last couple of Galaxy S phones in them, which otherwise have screens that crack if you look at them from the wrong angle, and they've protected them entirely from a lot of drops etc.
posted by howfar at 2:14 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a mous limitless case on my phone and I've never cracked the screen. Highly recommend. It came with a plastic screen protector, but I never bothered to put it on.
posted by Weeping_angel at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2019

I have an Incipio NGP case for my 3a, and a cheap tempered glass screen protector that I got for about $10 on eBay. The case is shock absorbing without being too bulky (and also has a raised lip to protect the screen if you drop it face down). I haven't shattered a screen since I started using tempered glass protectors and will never go back to the plastic ones, because they don't get scratched or wear out like they sticker ones do. I am clumsy and drop my phone almost daily, and this combo is sleek enough but also durable enough that my Pixel survives the challenge of being my phone.
posted by cholly at 6:44 PM on December 6, 2019

Years ago I had an Otterbox on my phone when I dropped it while sitting in bleachers. It dropped a good 8 feet onto concrete (landed screen up) and was perfectly fine. That one had a film screen cover.

I also recommend the tempered glass screen protectors. I've had one protector crack across the screen and the actual phone was fine. I had another chip on the side which also protected the phone.
posted by Nolechick11 at 7:50 PM on December 6, 2019

Bought a brand new iPhone XR a couple of weeks ago and had the Apple store put on a Belkin glass screen protector. A week later, for the first time ever in y smartphone-owning life, the phone fell face down in the driveway. The screen protector has a gouge and a very fine crack, and the screen is undamaged. The protector damage is minor enough I’m in no hurry to replace it, but it was totally worth the $40.

Since it’s an XR it has a slippery glass back, and I got a clear CANSHN case to show off the nice blue color. It doesn’t add much bulk and only cost $7.
posted by lhauser at 8:19 PM on December 6, 2019

Otterbox Commuter. It’s not as big a case as the Defender, and it doesn’t have the water protection or anything like that. But it’s not huge, and still provides excellent protection for a phone. I’ve been using one for three years now, and it has saved the phone from certain doom many many times. If you want, pair it with a tempered glass screen protector.
posted by azpenguin at 9:27 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding cheap silicone covers, used them for years and never a smashed screen.
posted by penguin pie at 3:34 AM on December 7, 2019

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