Best cases for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro
July 19th, 2021
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Best cases for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro
Here are some tasty case options for the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Max and iPhone 12 Mini.
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, meaning 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 make up your mind between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, the good news is that those models are identical in size and take the same case.
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 offers 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 have what Apple describes as "an array of magnets" (Apple says they're recycled) embedded around a 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.
Read more: Best eco-friendly iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cases
To get the 15-watt charging speeds, you'll need an Apple MagSafe charger or an Apple-approved MagSafe charger from a third-party accessory maker, 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 and some are Apple-certified MagSafe cases with integrated magnets. Also, check out our list of best MagSafe and magnetic wireless chargers for the iPhone 12.
I'll be updating this list of picks for the best iPhone 12 case with new options as they continue to arrive. In the meantime, this iPhone 12 case list is based on case brands we've grown to like on previous iPhones. We've got case options for every possible whim, from a transparent case to a case with a kickstand, from a slim case to super protected cases with rubber bumpers and a raised bezel that guard your phone against accidental drops. 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 2021
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 Presidio2 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 iPhone 12 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 is currently offering 25% off sitewide.
Read more: Best MagSafe and magnetic wireless chargers for the iPhone 12
If you're looking for a cheap clear case for your new iPhone 12 series phone, Spigen's Ultra Hybrid is a good value at around $12 to $15, depending on the trim color and which version of iPhone 12 you have (yes, there are a few color options).
No drop rating is listed for the case, but Spigen's transparent cases feel like they offer reasonable protection. If you want a tough case with 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 recently become a 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 for the iPhone 12 model 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.
There are plenty of inexpensive clear cases for the iPhone 12 on Amazon. I bought this YouMaker case with a coupon code for $3 (it's now around $12 with a 10% off instant coupon). It seems to be a perfectly good clear case that offers decent protection with raised edges. Whether it will yellow over time, I can't tell you, but it seems like a good value.
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.
OtterBox's super protective 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 and is wireless charging-compatible, which is important. Prices range from $50 to $60 (£29, AU$59). 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.
Brooklyn, New York-based Casely makes "cute and protective" cases that have a variety of graphic artists behind their designs. The cases usually cost $25, but the online store often offers discounts.
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 it offers some conveniences. The bottom line is that if you do want to try MagSafe accessories and to protect your phone with a case, you're best off with one of Apple's cases or another MagSafe-certified case.
KerfCase has been making handmade wooden cases for a while, and its new Plywood case is not only more durable but less expensive than some, starting at $50, with 6-foot drop protection and a limited lifetime repair warranty. I like it better than other wood cases I've tried. It's also worth noting that Apple's MagSafe charger will stick to the back of it, and KerfCase sells matching charging docks for the Apple MagSafe charger (yes, it's an accessory for an accessory).
British case-maker Gear4, now owned by Zagg, makes cases that are right up 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 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 is known for eye-catching designs on 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 back 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.
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 (a leather case typically tends 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 leather case options are available in multiple colors.
Mous makes several cases that have eye-catching designs, all lined with the AiroShock material that the company says delivers excellent protection in a slim design. They do seem durable and all include a lifetime warranty.
Mous' line of iPhone 12 cases has become a little confusing with the addition of its new MagSafe-enabled Limitless 4.0 cases, which are compatible with MagSafe accessories and chargers (its clear MagSafe cases are more protective than Apple's transparent MagSafe case, but the Mous case costs more). The Limitless 4.0 cases cost about $10 more than the iPhone 12 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 phone 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.
Like Lifeproof, Catalyst made a name for itself with waterproof cases, but it now focuses on standard protective case options and has two new models for the iPhone 12: the Vibe (left) and the 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.
I've always liked Moshi cases and the company's made versions of its iGlaze, Altra and Vitros cases (pictured from left to right) 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 $23 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.
I'm personally not a crossbody case guy (meaning a case with a long strap so you can wear your phone like a purse), but some people love them. You can find some fancy ones out there that cost a lot of money, but if you're looking for something simpler, the Smartish Crossbody case is around $30 and comes in multiple color options. Its design incorporates some faux leather and the case offers decent protection along with three slots for storing up to five credit cards and cash in the wallet compartment. You can choose to go with a shorter hand strap or the longer adjustable crossbody strap.
Incipio returns with an assortment of cases for the new iPhone 12 models, including the sturdy Duo ($30) with 12-foot drop protection, the Slim ($40), the Grip ($40) and the Organicore ($40), an eco case that's 100% compostable. All are available in multiple color options, and the Slim comes in a variety of translucent options.
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 6-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 iPhone case, but the iridescent soap bubble and tough groove cases also look cool.
Swedish startup 15:21 makes natural cork cases and wallets that give your phone a unique look and feel. These are very slim cases that aren't incredibly protective, although the edges are raised slightly on the corners to help protect your screen from cracking should you drop it (other cases do offer more corner protection). Also, the bottom of the case covers half of the bottom of your phone rather than leaving it totally exposed, which is good. You can read the story behind the 15:21 company name here.
If selfies are your thing, then you're probably aware of the 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 6-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.
Environmentally friendly smartphone cases are rapidly proliferating as more companies are making an effort to manufacture products out of recycled materials or materials that are biodegradable. The Torro Eco Cover for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro falls into the latter category, and like many eco cases, it's pretty simply designed. But unlike a lot of eco cases, which are often sold at premium prices, it happens to be inexpensive right now -- only $13 after you clip an instant 50% off coupon on Amazon.
While it's made out of renewable plant-based raw material such as corn and cassava -- no plastic is used -- it feels similar to a firm plastic case and has a slight bit of grip to it. It also seems pretty protective and has raised edges to help protect your screen in the event you drop your phone face down. Torro says the Eco Cover is only biodegradable in a composting environment; you simply place it in your home compost bin and it'll break down. I can't tell you how well it will hold up over time, but at $13, you're not risking much dough.
It's also available for the iPhone 12 Mini, but I didn't see a listing for a version for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.