Justin Duino

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What to Look for in an iPhone Case in 2021

A modern flagship phone like the iPhone 13 Pro is a significant investment, and you’ll want to protect it as best you can. Of course, the iPhone 13 is pretty tough out of the box, so some brave individuals don’t feel the need to have a case at all. For the rest of us, the dangers of daily life mean that you always run the risk of dropping your phone accidentally or in a moment of inattention.

While all phone cases provide some form of protection for your device, they don’t offer the same degree or type of protection. You need to carefully choose a case that strikes the right balance between look, feel, and functionality. Think about how and where you use your phone and match that with the most appropriate case.

The first choice you’ll have to make is what material you want for the case. The main choices are soft silicone, clear plastic, and leather. Some cases, such as those ruggedized against serious hazards, may use carbon fiber or other rigid materials.

Silicone cases offer the least added bulk and preserve the slimline feel of a phone. They’re great for preventing scratches and dents, but there’s limited protection against drop damage since they are so thin.

Hard plastic clear cases do the same, but they also provide better impact protection than soft silicone cases. They aren’t quite as lovely to hold as silicone but offer a good mix of looks and protection. If you pick a clear plastic case, you can also show off your Apple iPhone 13 Pro’s colorway.

Ruggedized cases are meant for people who spend time in rough places, such as construction sites.  Modern smartphones, especially high-end ones, have some intrinsic water and dust resistance. Specialized cases aren’t necessary for most people, but they’re practically necessary for those that do need them.

Finally, leather cases offer some of the best overall protection. Leather does weather naturally over time, and not everyone likes that, but if you want something that can take a beating and feels good to hold, it’s a good premium option.

With all of this in mind, here are our iPhone 13 Pro case recommendations.

Note: The cases below only fit the standard iPhone 13 Pro model. They will not fit the iPhone 13 Mini, the standard iPhone 13, or iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Best iPhone 13 Pro Case Overall: Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe

Apple

Pros

  • High-quality silicone
  • Microfiber on the inside
  • Magnet-aligned fit
  • MagSafe certified
  • Great colors

Cons

  • Silicon is not the best material for serious drops

Apple’s take on silicone cases takes the bread-and-butter case design and sharpens it up with extra attention to detail. The silicone itself is of high quality and soft to the touch, so it feels great to hold your phone.

Apple offers a decent selection of colors for the Silicone Case, so you can personalize your iPhone 13 Pro’s look in all sorts of fun ways. If you want a clear case, though, you’ll need to go with another option.

Apart from nailing the exterior feel and grip, the case is MagSafe compatible, has magnets that align it precisely to the phone, and has a microfiber interior to keep the phone body shiny and scratch-free.

The Silicone Case is not the most exciting to talk about, but there’s no doubt that this is the premium workhorse phone case that most iPhone 13 Pro users should consider.

Best iPhone 13 Pro Case Overall

Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13 Pro

The Apple Silicone Case is not groundbreaking, but it is premium and practical. This is the case that most iPhone 13 Pro users should buy.

Best Budget iPhone 13 Pro Case: Spigen Liquid Air Armor

Spigen Liquid Armor Air on grey background
Spigen

Pros

  • Thin, yet has air pocket protection
  • Grippy matte surface
  • Cheap

Cons

  • It's a little military-looking

Do you really need to spend what Apple’s asking for its in-house cases to get good protection and usability? Spigen’s answer to that is a resounding “no”, and based on what we’ve seen of this Liquid Air Armor case, we believe them.

The looks of this case might divide buyers since it has that pseudo-military “tacticool” look, but there are plenty of worse-looking cases out there. The textured finish actually helps with grip, so it’s not just for looks. Also, the thin case profile hides several air cushions that reduce the force that goes through the phone during a dreaded corner drop.

The Spigen case isn’t just a good choice when you’re budget conscious after buying an iPhone 13 Pro; it’s downright desirable regardless of price.

Best Budget iPhone 13 Pro Case

Spigen Liquid Air Armor

Spigen's tacticool case has a low asking price, but still protects like Apple's premium-priced alternatives.

Best MagSafe iPhone 13 Pro Case: Apple Clear Case with MagSafe

Apple Clear Case on green background
Apple

Pros

  • MagSafe certified
  • You can see your phone in all its glory
  • Every MagSafe accessory will match a clear case

Cons

  • Clear cases don't offer the best grip

Apple and third-party sellers are churning out a variety of MagSafe accessories, but not all of them are going to look terrific attached to a MagSafe Silicone Case. If you’re planning on really investing in the MagSafe ecosystem, it makes more sense to go for the Apple Clear Case with MagSafe.

The logic is simple—anything and everything looks great with a clear case. This is one of the few clear cases guaranteed to be compatible with MagSafe accessories both physically and aesthetically.

Thanks to a special coating, it’s also scratch-resistant, which deals with a common complaint regarding hard clear cases. You also get the same precise magnetic-aligned fit, and the material is treated to prevent yellowing.

The only real downside to a clear case like this is a lack of grip, so be careful when putting it down on your leg or a sloped surface. Then again, if it does fall, this clear polycarbonate material will do a good job of making sure the phone isn’t damaged.

Best MagSafe iPhone 13 Pro Case

Apple Clear Case with MagSafe

For the MagSafe faithful, the Apple clear case will look great with any MagSafe gadget, regardless of design or color. It also helps that it's a fantastic case in its own right.

Best Wallet iPhone 13 Pro Case: Smartish iPhone 13 Pro Wallet Case

Smartish wallet case on blue background
Smartish

Pros

  • Clever credit card grip and slide design
  • Grippy
  • Less bulk than a phone and a wallet together
  • Air pockets for drop protection

Cons

  • MagSafe and other feature requiring back of phone don't work

What do you carry around in your wallet these days? ID, driver’s license, and perhaps a little paper money for an emergency? If that sounds like you, then this Smartish Wallet Case will be the perfect way to optimize your pocket space.

Instead of carrying around two things, you can carry around your iPhone and put your wallet stuff in the phone case. It even saves you from buying an Apple AirTag for your wallet, since it’ll now all be in one place.

We’re especially impressed by the card insertion and extraction mechanism with Smartish’s case. It uses a push-pull design that holds your cards securely, while still making them easy to pull out. It’s particularly pleasing that Smartish has managed to develop a wallet case that doesn’t involve an annoying flipbook design.

Apart from a thicker phone, the only real downside here is that you can use anything that needs to make contact with the back of the phone. That includes MagSafe gadgets, wireless charging, and NFC payments.

Best Wallet iPhone 13 Pro Case

Smartish iPhone 13 Pro Wallet Case

This Wallet Slayer case from Smartish is less bulky than a wallet and a phone and only slightly bulkier than a phone by itself. A real space saver with a convenient card retrieval system.

Best Rugged iPhone 13 Pro Case: Otterbox Defender Series

otterbox Defender series on grey background
Otterbox

Pros

  • Raised edges for the screen and camera
  • Four times the military drop-test standard

Cons

  • Screen protector not included
  • A little on the bulky side

You have a tough job, and that means you need a tough phone case to keep your device working. If you’ve set your heart on an iPhone 13 Pro but think it’s too risky to take it where you need to go, this rugged Defender Case from Otterbox is just what you need.

The Defender Series uses a multi-layer design to ensure that forces from drops and bumps are diffused through the case and not through your delicate phone and its components. According to the store page, the Defender stands up to four times the drop protection that qualifies as military-grade. It also has raised edges to ensure your camera and screen don’t touch the ground when the case is flat.

Speaking of the screen, this does not come with a screen protector, as many rugged cases do, but it is compatible with Otterbox’s screen protectors for the iPhone 13 Pro.

You might not use your Lightning port much thanks to wireless charging and AirDrop, but you don’t want it filling up with crud either. The Defender case comes with port protection. Just make sure that you need this level of protection because the Defender does add more thickness and bulk than standard phone cases.

If you need less protection and less bulk, there are other options.

Best Rugged iPhone 13 Pro Case

Otterbox Defender Series Case for iPhone 13 Pro

While it doesn't come with a screen protector, the Defender offers raised screen and camera edges and tough overall defense for those with a paranoid (or clumsy) streak.

Best Clear iPhone 13 Pro Case: Otterbox Symmetry Clear Series

Otterbox Symmetry iPhone Pro case
Otterbox

Pros

  • Clear but rugged
  • Will charge wirelessly, even with a MagSafe charger
  • Thin profile despite additional protection

Cons

  • MagSafe charging works, but MagSafe attachment doesn't

You may be surprised that we picked the Apple Clear Case with MagSafe as the best MagSafe case, but not the best clear case. It’s definitely a worthy alternative to the Otterbox Symmetry, and if you absolutely must have MagSafe compatibility, that’s the clear case to go for. However, as an overall clear case, we think the Symmetry is the better general option.

We’re specifically impressed with how Otterbox included rugged features in this case while still offering a crystal clear experience. This case does not work with MagSafe, but that also makes it a better clear case because there’s no MagSafe ring to spoil the view of your phone.

It does work with wireless charging, including the MagSafe charger, it’s just that there are no magnets to have the two stick together. So as long as that doesn’t bother you, Otterbox’s case is a great option.

Best Clear iPhone 13 Pro Case

Otterbox Symmetry Clear Series Case for iPhone 13 Pro

It's a rugged clear case that will keep your iPhone 13 Pro in great condition while looking as naked as it's meant to be. MagSafe fans need not apply, though.

Best Thin iPhone 13 Pro Case: Totallee Thin iPhone 13 Pro Case

Totallee thin case on yellow background
Totallee

Pros

  • Only 0.02 inches
  • Raised lip for camera

Cons

  • Protection from minor drops at best

If you aren’t worried about dropping your iPhone but do worry about scratches and minor dents, then this Thin iPhone 13 Pro Case from Totallee has the best minimal protection option out there. It’s wildly thin at only 0.02 inches, and that does include a raised lip to protect your cameras.

There’s a fair selection of colors, but if you want to pretend that you’re not using a case at all, we recommend having a look at the “Frosted Clear” option so you can see your phone’s colorway.

Totallee’s case is really the best way to have basic protection for your iPhone, without adding any bulk.

Best Thin iPhone 13 Pro Case

Totallee Thin iPhone 13 Pro Case

Totallee's case is really thin. However, don't expect much drop protection from this case. It's a scratch and dent protector.

Best Leather iPhone 13 Pro Case: Apple Leather Case with MagSafe

Apple leather case on pink and yellow background
Apple

Pros

  • Actual leather with a premium finish
  • Varied colors
  • Less expensive than expected
  • Magnetic alignment

Cons

  • A little minimalist
  • Rugged leather finish fans won't like it

Not everyone is down with an animal product such as leather, but if you are on the lookout for a cover made from this durable and premium material, look no further than Apple’s Leather Case.

This leather case is made from exceptionally soft and smooth leather, featuring the same magnetic alignment and MagSafe compatibility of the Apple Silicone and Clear cases. If you’re a fan of a more raw finish to your leather products, this is perhaps not the right choice for you, but the colors and finish on offer here are honestly worth more than what Apple is asking.

A leather case will likely outlive the phone’s time with you before the next upgrade, and it’s the perfect match for anyone that’s not a fan of synthetic case material but still want those same protective qualities.

Best Leather iPhone 13 Pro Case

Apple Leather Case with MagSafe

It's hard to go wrong with leather and Apple has gone above and beyond even the premium trappings all leather cases share. If you don't mind a bit of weathering over the years, this is a fantastic option.

The Best iPhones of 2021

Best iPhone Overall
iPhone 13
Get the Smaller Version
iPhone 13 mini
Best Budget iPhone
iPhone SE
Budget iPhone with Face ID
iPhone 11
Best Premium iPhone
iPhone 13 Pro
Best iPhone Camera
iPhone 13 Pro Max
Best Battery Life
iPhone 13 Pro Max
Battery Case for iPhone 13
LVFAN 4800mAh Battery Case for iPhone 13/13 Pro
Profile Photo for Sydney Butler Sydney Butler
Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He's worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular.
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