Best iPhone case for someone who drops their phone ALL the time
June 5, 2020 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I drop my phone. A lot. I'm buying a new iPhone SE this week and I really want to protect it well. (I'm considering AppleCare, too.) I couldn't find an AskMe on this that's newer than 2018, so ... please share your suggestions, especially if you're a serial phone dropper like me!
posted by trillian to Shopping (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
OtterBox. Hands down.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 9:28 AM on June 5, 2020 [21 favorites]

I'm a serial phone dropper and have done well with whatever slightly thick case with a rubbery finish plus a tempered glass screen protector. I have been using the Mr Shield brand for years. I have completely shattered the screen protector on multiple occasions and the screen itself had no damage. I had an Otterbox back in the day and found it to be large, clunky, and not particularly long lasting.
posted by sacrifix at 9:32 AM on June 5, 2020

Spigen Liquid Air, always. I've used it since 2016 and I drop my phone a lot.
posted by taskmaster at 9:38 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just as an FYI-- the 2020 iPhone SE has identical dimensions as the iPhone 8, so if you're looking for lists of best iPhone cases, you can search those too. Only the placement of the Apple logo on the back is different, so if the iPhone 8 case has a cutout to reveal the logo then it won't line up.
posted by bluecore at 9:40 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Lifebox case is solid, but I didn't like the way it felt using the screen after years of using it with a different case. However, I don't drop my phone a lot, so I can use a Speck case with the grippy edges and tempered glass screen protector.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:42 AM on June 5, 2020

There are lots of great hardcore cases out there (both Otterbox and Lifebox seem great), but I've had really excellent luck with the Incipio cases - either the "DualPro" or the "NGP Pure" seem like they'd fit the new SE (it has the same dimensions as an iPhone 8). If you're particularly drop-prone, I might get the DualPro. It probably isn't as robust as the other cases, but they're notably lower profile and I've dropped my phone a number of times and never had so much as a scratch with several different Incipio cases.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:48 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Otterbox Defender. Worth every penny.
posted by Roger Pittman at 9:50 AM on June 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Speck cases do a really great job of protecting phone without the huge otter box sized cases (though I also used a screen protector sheet with speck. I have a life proof case now and I’m a fan of it.
posted by raccoon409 at 9:59 AM on June 5, 2020

I use a Zagg screen protector and a basic Incipio. This is the setup I've used for.. 4-5 years now, over several iPhones. I drop my phone a lot on hard surfaces (wood, asphalt, concrete). Never a broken screen, never a broken phone, still slim enough to fit in a pocket.

One thing to consider is I think the SE is not as water-resistant as the other current models, so investing in an Otter or similar might be worth it if you think you'll be taking it anywhere with water deeper than a bathtub.
posted by curious nu at 10:01 AM on June 5, 2020

I drop my phone an embarrassing amount, but I also detest a bulky case, and screen protectors are the devil.

So I have a slim-fit rubber case that has a lip above screen height - despite dropping my phone on a regular basis, it's in perfect condition with no scratches or damage. I have this case, but it's the wrong size for your model.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:03 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I dropped my phone off a balcony onto a marble floor two stories down.

It lasted another 2 years.

posted by warriorqueen at 10:04 AM on June 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I drop my phone a ridiculous amount and Speck cases have saved my butt on numerous occasions. I've had Otterbox in the past but I like to put my phone in my pocket and I can't cope with how huge and bulky they are. I do not use screen protectors; I just get cases that have a slightly higher beveled edge and they haven't steered me wrong so far.
posted by anderjen at 10:19 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I (and my children) drop my iphone at least once a day. I’ve had it for two years in an otter box case and a tech armor glass screen protector. I dislike the aesthetics of the otter box but it works! The bottom section of mine is now broken and the outer plastic case is chipped off but the rubber inner section is okay. The parts that fold over the plug holes are wearing out where they bend but still work. I’d buy this combo next time.
posted by john_snow at 10:46 AM on June 5, 2020

Otterbox defender!
posted by calgirl at 10:47 AM on June 5, 2020

Oh, wanted to add my last iPhone was in a speck case which worked for a while but my phone did not survive a drop on the sidewalk.
posted by john_snow at 10:47 AM on June 5, 2020

Little ms. flabdablet has had several Otterbox cases, all of which have cracked and/or fallen apart and/or lost their little rubbery pluggy bits and/or interfered with after-market charging cables in annoying ways. Her current LifeProof one has been in service for some months now and is holding up pretty well.
posted by flabdablet at 11:04 AM on June 5, 2020

I've had both Otterbox and LifeProof cases for my iPhones, and none of my phones have ever been damaged, despite the gay abandon with which I fling them about, including onto hard tile floors at school, back when we went there. I don't bother with the screen protectors anymore, and I've been good thus far. No scratches, no cracks.

I currently have an Otterbox Commuter for my iPhone 8 (same as the new SE), and it has done its job admirably while not being bulky and ridiculous like some of the others -- important to me since I need my phone to be as small as possible for my small hands.
posted by lysimache at 11:39 AM on June 5, 2020

Have you thought about dropping your phone less? Moft or OhSnap? Both work with a case. Moft does not work with wireless charging. OhSnap does but has not yet shipped. Both are considerably thinner than similar gadgets you may have seen.
posted by dobbs at 11:46 AM on June 5, 2020

I have a caseify case now, but have had all sorts of cases, including otterbox, lifebox, and Speck. Speck grip case once kept my phone on top of my car while I drove several miles down a main road. It was impressive.

But the real trick for me was to get a ring or a grip on the back of the case which has helped me stop dropping it in the first place. There are rings and straps - pop sockets don't work because your hand doesn't go inside them. With the casemate ring I have now I can hold my phone in my hand AND use my phone for other things. It's lovely
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:00 PM on June 5, 2020

Otterbox seems standard but I've used fairly slim Spigen cases for a few years and my iphone has never been damaged when I've dropped it. I got my last one direct from Spigen itself via ebay (free shipping, avoided Amazon.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:05 PM on June 5, 2020

Incipio worked great for me but I also have a compostable Pela case currently and I drop this sucker CONSTANTLY and it is completely fine. (and pretty and ecofriendly!) I honestly think all you need is the rubber bumper, as stated above.
posted by peppercorn at 1:24 PM on June 5, 2020

2nding the Pela case - I've had one for two yeas, and combined with a screen protector, it's been perfect! I love that it's compostable, and they contribute to some great causes.
posted by dbmcd at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2020

if you get a case that you can attach a wrist strap to you'll drop your phone way less. I attached an old camera wrist strap to my phone; it's just a thin band, but I got into the habit of quickly wrapping it around a finger whenever I pick up my phone, so whenever the phone slips out of my hand, it just drops a few inches and dangles.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:02 PM on June 5, 2020

Wow, thank you -- too many to mark best answers! My future phone thanks you.
posted by trillian at 2:19 PM on June 5, 2020

Lander Moab rugged case. It’s thin, absorbs impact like a champ (and I’ve destroyed MANY phones this case) AND it comes with an adjustable (and replaceable) lanyard.
Put that baby around your wrist and you’re good to go.
posted by Neekee at 3:49 PM on June 5, 2020

I love my Otter + Pop, it's an Otter box with a built in Pop Socket. So you get a good case, but you also get a pop up nub to give you grip when you are using the phone. When collapsed, it sits with in the case depth, so it's smoother than putting a Pop Socket on another case.
posted by advicepig at 3:52 PM on June 5, 2020

Otterbox Defender but carefully pop out the built in screen protector and get a Zagg tempered glass screen protector. The plastic ones on the Otterbox never seem as smooth or responsive as one that’s attached to the screen.

A pop socket on the back adds bulk but that makes it less likely to slide out of your pocket or hand accidentally. And sometimes when it drops it will land on the pop socket which will absorb some of the force.

Also, just have the mind set that you’ll be replacing the case every year or two. Yeah there’s a cost to that, but think of it - the case is taking the bumps instead of your phone.

There might be other options out there that are just as good but that’s what’s worked for me! My iPhone 6 is still pristine after years of daily drops.
posted by beandip at 4:45 PM on June 5, 2020

Mr. orchidarea works in a salvage yard and abuses the living daylights out of his iPhone. We have remarked many times how well the OtterBox has taken the abuse.

Also if anything at all happens to your OtterBox they will replace it for the cost of shipping.
posted by orchidarea at 6:18 PM on June 5, 2020

Nthing Pela Case. My wife loves hers.
posted by terrapin at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2020

Thanks again, all! Picked up an OtterBox Symmetry today and it seems way sturdier than my last case. Now to get a screen protector...
posted by trillian at 5:29 PM on June 6, 2020

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