Review: Protecting your iPhone XS: We Reviewed 20 iPhone Cases

Mark Rogers

Choosing how you protect your Apple iPhone XS has never been harder, with hundreds of iPhone cases to choose from, it can be very confusing deciding between them all.

Phone cases today can be made from single, double, triple and even 5 layer construction using materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and polycarbonates (PC), one manufacturer in particular is even incorporating materials used for crash protection in motorcycle gear into their cases for superior drop protection.

When it comes to how well a phone case protects the phone, some manufacturers use a military grade drop test to prove how well their case works if the inevitable happens, it’s a test the US Department of Defense designed to ensure overall durability for the product to be combat worthy. For the test the manufacturer repeatedly drops a case with a phone in it from a height of 4ft onto 2-inch plywood over concrete. The case is dropped a total of 26 times, 6 times face down, 8 times on the corners, and 12 times on the edges. After every drop the phone case is inspected for any damage. Not every manufacturer uses this test and it can only used as a guide to how well a phone case protects your phone.

For some, choosing a new iPhone case can be as simple how it minimalistic it looks without detracting from the iPhones overall shape and how it feels in the hand, while for others it’s about protecting their investment, choosing the biggest and most protective case available and not worrying about how it looks or feels.Whether you are the person who likes to go with the simplicity of a minimalistic clear case or you’re the opposite and you want to cocoon your brand new iPhone XS in the most exotic and durable materials available, we reviewed a number of iPhone cases and have put together a list of the ones that we like the most.

For the first list below we have chosen 10 clear cases, ranging from ultra-thin to ultra-protective.

Tech21 Pure Clear Case – $39.95USD

This ultra-thin crystal clear case offers drop protection from up to 10 feet (3 metres) using Tech21’s Bulletshield™ technology, scientifically proven impact material in a slim design which doesn’t add unnecessary bulk while protecting your iPhone from impacts.
The overall feel of the case is hard and smooth with less flexibility than a traditional TPU case which does help keep the phone locked in and make it less likely to accidentally come out of the case during a drop.
Tech21 have added materials in the production of the case which helps it resist yellowing from UV exposure over time, however, due to the nature of the harder clear material which it is made from makes it prone to light scratches on the clear back.

What we like
10ft (3 Metre) drop protection
Ultra-thin construction
Bulletshield™ Technology
Resists yellowing from UV exposure
Good amount of lip around screen for protection
Has rear camera protection

Incase Pop Case II – $39.94USD

The Incase Pop Case II is made of 3 layer TENSAERLITE™ protection technology that absorbs impact energy from drops, it’s a flexible, light, impact absorption material which combined with the air pocket construction for the bumper offers superior protection.
The Pop Case II comes in two options of either white bumper or black bumper with a glossy hard clear back to show off your phone, it’s going to be a personal choice to match best with the colour of your iPhone, however, keep in mind the white will show more discolouration over time than the black from basic everyday handling.
Overall the design of the case offers great protection from drops and impacts due to the bumper design however the downside to this case is it does feel rather bulky because of it.

What we like
Offers drop protection *although height not stated
Nice feel with slight grip surface
Air Pockets in bumper for protection
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface
Has rear camera protection

Incipio Octane Pure Case – $29.99USD

Crystal-clear rigid slim case made from dual premium materials, the back is a glossy transparent Plextonium™ polycarbonate and the outer edge bumper is made from impact resistant Flex2O™ TPU, designed to withstand drops from 6ft this case has a nice slim design with good grip.
The Incipio Octane Pure Case comes in a clear finish or you can choose the bumpers to be either translucent rose colour or black to match best to your phone.

What we like
6ft drop protection
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface
Nice feel with slight grip surface
Anti scratch surface resists light scratches
Has rear camera protection

Griffin Reveal Case – $14.99USD

A very thin lightweight polycarbonate clear case which is scratch resistant and offers drop protection of up to 3 feet. This case has subtle rubber accents which protect the phone in areas which are needed most while not adding unnecessary bulk and help provide additional grip. The Griffin Reveal case is definitely value for money when compared to the other cases we reviewed and it also works well with the iPhones wireless charging. Although like most clear cases with a glossy finish, fingerprints seem to be our biggest gripe.
If you want additional protection Griffin do have a good range of other cases offering increased protection on their website.

What we like
3ft drop protection
Very thin design
Has rear camera protection

Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case $24.99

The Ultra Hybrid Case from Spigen has a dual layer construction using both Polycarbonate and TPU materials. Keeping the size down to a minimum the case has a rigid crystal clear back and a flexible bumper around the iPhones outer edge, to further protect the phone from any drops it has little air bubbles Spigen have dubbed Air Cushion Technology on all four corners incorporated into the TPU bumper. Spigen have a number of options available when it comes to slim clear cases, the Ultra Hybrid Case comes in a choice of 5 colours for the bumpers; Crystal Clear, Rose Crystal, Matte Black, Red & Space Crystal

What we like
Slim design
Raised bezel surround for face down screen protection
Rear camera protection
Designed to resist yellowing

EFM Aspen Clear Case – $49.95USD

Now, when looking for a clear iPhone case that offers superior protection while still having a slim look and feel, the EFM Aspen Clear Case is a hard one to pass by. It was the more expensive that the other clear iPhone cases however at $49.95 its a small price today for the level of protection it gives. Definitely worth the extra money when looking for a high protection iPhone case.
The EFM Aspen Clear Case is integrated with D30® patented soft flexible materials which have high shock and impact absorbing qualities around the bumper area of the phone case which gives the case its high level of impact resistance.

What we like
6m military standard drop tested
Integrated with D30®
Slim for a very well protected case
Raised bezel surround for face down screen protection and flat drop protection

Totallee Thin Case – $29.00USD

The Totallee thin case is all about being minimalistic, from the simple but well presented packaging right down to the case itself. It may not offer you the protection from a huge drop but the case fits like a glove and you almost can’t even tell you have it on the iPhone.
This case has cut outs for all side buttons rather than built-in raised button covers like other cases we compared but that only maintains the iPhones original look. Available in a crystal-clear gloss finish, a matte finish clear and other colours with zero branding, the Totallee thin case has a good amount of grip in both finishes we tested and feels great in hand.
One of the downsides is definitely the lack of protection a minimalistic case gives, there is no raised bezel surround so if you place your iPhone face down your display will be in direct contact with the surface you place it on.
If protection from 10ft, 6ft or 3ft is not what you are looking for in a case and its more about keeping your iPhone free from scratches while keeping the look as originally designed the Totallee Thin Case is definitely one case you should not look past.

What we like
Looks great in all finishes
Extremely thin case for most original iPhone look
Matte finish hides fingerprints and scratches
Branding free
Has rear camera protection
Plenty of colours to choose from

Peel Super Thin Case $25.00USD

The Peel Super Thin Case is all about maintaining the look of your new iPhone. As is the same with all minimalistic cases, its not about providing protection from a high drop test, its for the person who wants to keep their iPhone look and feel as original as it came out of the box while offering enough protection from everyday use minimising scratches and scuffs keeping the phone looking newer for longer.
Available in crystal-clear, matte finish clear and plenty of other colours to choose from this case offers a good amount of grip and almost feels like you don’t have a case on at all.

What we like
Looks great in all finishes
Extremely thin case for an original iPhone look
Matte finish hides fingerprints and scratches
Branding free
Has rear camera protection
Plenty of colours to choose from

Elago Slim Fit Case – $10.99USD

Elago Slim Fit Case is a hard shell type case which has been improved with more material to cover the buttons and now has only two small cutouts for stress relief in the lower edge to help with clipping it on over the phones edges due to the minimal amount of flex in the polycarbonate material. The case comes in a crystal-clear and a frosted clear look as well as other colours however the case doesn’t have the most grip to it out of all the cases we tried. It does provide a scratch resistant surface to stay looking great for longer and is fully compatible to work with Apple Pay and wireless charging without having to take the case on and off.

What we like
Thin and minimalistic in a hard shell
Scratch resistant polycarbonate material

Ringke Air Case – $9.99USD

The Ringke Air Case is a thin clear flexible TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and very affordable case, its the cheapest case we reviewed offering great value and good protection. One of the main downsides to a clear TPU case is how quickly it can turn yellow from UV exposure taking away the desired clean look we all want.
Made completely in one piece this case is designed really well and has a snug fit which is easy to take on and off due to the flexible nature of the material. It has a raised bezel surround which helps stop the iPhone screen touching directly on the surface you place it face down on giving additional protection and minimising scratches to the glass if you don’t have a screen protector.

What we like
Good value for money
Very thin flexible case

Not everyone will be looking for an iPhone case to be crystal clear, some of you may be looking to coordinate your new iPhone XS with other accessories you own, or your favourite colour may not be space grey, silver or gold.

For the second half of our iPhone XS case review we have chosen a list for the person who likes to accessorise and individualise their iPhone, these iPhone XS cases are the ones we liked that come in an assorted range of colours, designs and finishes from simple and minimalistic to cases made from luxury materials.

Tech21 Evo Luxe Case – $59.95USD

Tech21’s Evo Luxe Case comes in a range of luxury finishes, from faux leather in various colours and patterns or woven fabric for a durable, comfortable feel in your hand, this case is designed to add that premium look while still keeping a slim profile design in mind with a FlexShock® outer bumper offering great drop protection from up to 12 feet (3.6 Metres)
We sampled just two of Tech21’s iPhone cases and were very impressed with the overall finish.

What we like
12ft (3.6 Metre) drop protection with FlexShock®
Slim construction
Has rear camera protection

Griffin Survivor Strong Case $29.99USD

Another great slim case from Griffin, this time with a two piece construction in either clear or black, you have the polycarbonate impact resistant inner layer which fits snug with the iPhone and a non-slip grip outer TPU material for the shell which work together giving this iPhone case drop protection for up to 7 feet (2.1 Metres).

What we like
7 feet drop protection
Has a good amount of grip
Has rear camera protection

Incipio DualPro Case – $29.99USD

The Incipio DualPro Case is another two piece design available for the iPhone, available in six colours to choose from, the look and feel of this case is silky smooth, it has a soft touch finish to the outer polycarbonate rigid layer which provides a nice amount of grip and gives the case its seamless matte finish look which is also great at resisting any finger prints and light scratches.
The inner layer is a shock absorbing, rubbery material which is integrated nicely with the outer layer design showing off its dual layers, with the show through logo on the back, around the side buttons and hole cutouts at the bottom.

What we like
10 feet drop protection
Has a good amount of grip
Has rear camera protection
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface
Great colour range

Incase Lift Case $19.95USD

The Incase Lift Case is a very slim, minimalistic and durable case design, made to keep bulk down to a minimum we like the fact it still does have a raised bezel surround to protect your iPhone display when playing it face down on a surface. Made from fairly rigid material it has only two small cutouts for stress relief in the lower edge to help with clipping it on over the phones edges when installing. The case comes in a clear translucent and a graphite translucent finish with a fairly good amount of grip and provides a scratch resistant surface to stay looking great for longer and works with wireless charging without having to take the case on and off.

What we like
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface

Ringke Onyx Case – $10.99USD

Ringke have created a premium looking iPhone case with their Onyx case range, putting it simply its just a TPU case, except they have definitely thought about the design and appearance with the textured finish to resemble a premium brushed metal. Available in black and lilac purple, the Ringke Onyx case has a soft, flexible feel with a slightly increased thickness of material around the bumper areas to help absorb and protect your iPhone from small knocks, bumps and drops.

What we like
The textured brushed metal finishing
Pricing is great
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface

ElementCase Illusion Case – $29.95USD

The Illusion iPhone XS case from Element has a sleek lightweight angular design with a tinted polycarbonate hard back to showcase your iPhone in style and is available in 5 colours Grey, Black, Blue, Green and Orange. One of the nicest case designs we have seen, it has a raised bezel edge on the front and the rear protecting both the display of the iPhone and the clear polycarbonate back from scratches. A rugged and lightweight case which meets military spec drop protection

What we like
Has rear camera protection
Colour range
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface and on rear to protect the clear case back

Catalyst Impact Protection Case – $39.00USD

The sleek grippy rubber design of the Catalyst Impact Protection Case that wraps around the iPhone gives 9.9ft of drop protection, designed with what they call impact truss system, its pattern creates tiny air gaps between the phones edge and the case helping absorb any impacts. The colour options are great and all come with a hard clear back to showcase your iPhone. One interesting design with this case is the rotating mute switch, it fits the design of the case well and doesn’t look out of place.

What we like
Has rear camera protection
Colour range
Unique rotating mute switch
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface

Nomad Rugged Case – $44.95USD

Nomad are known for creating premium durable products for tech and thats exactly what they have done here for the iPhone XS, the Nomad Rugged case is minimalistic in design with a simple TPU formed iPhone case with a Horween leather outer, the beauty about having a premium leather outer is over time it will weather and patina like an expensive leather wallet adding character to your iPhone. The most important part of this case is its still designed to offer your iPhone 10ft drop protection.

What we like
The minimalistic design with a premium look and feel using high quality leather
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface
10ft drop protection

UAG Monarch Series Case – $59.95USD

The UAG (Urban Armor Gears) Monarch Series iPhone XS Case, this has to be one of the most engineered cases we reviewed, from the soft TPU impact-resistant core to the machined alloy metal outer layer and leather insert layer giving the case an overall tactical feel while still being very slim and lightweight. There is so much going on with the design here but it’s all about the protection, we are talking about an iPhone case which meets double the Military Standard in drop protection. The Monarch Series case is available in 5 colours including Graphite, Platinum, Crimson, Black and Carbon

What we like
The honeycomb designed grip
The ultimate drop protection (2X Military drop-test)
Raised bezel surround protects phone when placing face down on surface

Pad & Quill Pocket Book Wallet Case – $109.95USD

This iPhone case is the by far the dearest one we selected, granted, it is designed to double as a luxury leather wallet and an iPhone case in one. The premium finish is made from full-grain American saddle leather for the exterior and a precision milled Baltic birch wooden cradle to protect the iPhone from impacts. This case is exceptional in its quality materials and workmanship, its even backed with a lifetime wood warranty and a 25 year leather warranty.

What we like
The fact it doubles as a premium wallet
Excellent colour choices for the interior and exterior
Full protection of your iPhone
Has rear camera protection
Wireless Charging

One of the questions we came across a lot while doing our research was will the case work with wireless charging and apple pay?, all of the cases we reviewed were manufactured using materials which do not block the iPhones ability to use a wireless QI charger or Apple Pay.

No matter what criteria you decide to use for choosing the right case for you just remember that minimalistic offers the least protection from shocks and drops, while it may look nice and sleek the cost of replacing the iPhone XS screen not cheap, maybe compromise and take on a little bit of bulk, you will thank yourself the next time you get that gut wrenching feeling while reaching down to pick up your prized possession after it slipped from out of your grasp.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us on the iPhone XS cases we listed above or one that you like and let us know what made you decide on the case you have.


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