Dozens of new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases have arrived at our offices over the past month — some of them preceding the official releases of the iPhones themselves. We’ve been busy testing all of them, and now that we’ve seen what most of the major iPhone case makers have done this generation — hint: modest updates to their prior designs — we can offer some guidance on the best current options out there. iLounge is recommending three broad categories of cases this year: minimalist, middle-of-the-road, and ultra-protective. It’s still very early to judge the year’s best iPhone cases, but here are our current top picks and runners-up in each category.
Minimalist for iPhone 6: Griffin’s Reveal ($20) is a mostly clear plastic case that lets the iPhone’s design shine through at a very affordable device. As a bonus, Reveal’s opaque sides reduce the visual impact of the iPhone’s ugly antenna stripes.
Also consider: Spigen SGP’s Capsule ($15) is a simple soft TPU case that shows off your device and protects against drops at a very low price. SwitchEasy’s Numbers ($20) uses opaque or translucent TPU plastic, including integrated port protection at a slightly higher price.
Minimalist for iPhone 6 Plus: Incipio’s NGP ($20) offers solid value for the dollar, covering the largest iPhone with soft TPU plastic at the same price as you’d pay for a much smaller iPhone case.
Also consider: Apple’s Silicone Case for iPhone 6 Plus ($39) definitely isn’t the best value we’ve seen in a case, but it’s very slender and reasonably protective. Griffin’s Reveal ($20) is much more affordable, but not quite as minimalist of a solution.
Middle-of-the-Road for iPhone 6: Speck’s CandyShell and CandyShell Grip ($35 each) are the latest in a long-running and almost always excellent series of co-molded rubber and plastic cases — ones strongly preferred by our editors due to their great combination of protection and comfort. If you’re worried about the slip factor of CandyShell’s glossy plastic, which we haven’t had problems with, go with the ribbed CandyShell Grip instead.
Also consider: Incipio’s DualPro Shine ($35) provides dual-layer protection with a shiny faux aluminum shell outside a soft plastic frame. Urban Armor Gear’s Composite Case ($35) is a dual-layer option with a near-future military aesthetic that we’ve really liked since we first saw it a couple of years ago.
Middle-of-the-Road for iPhone 6 Plus: Griffin’s Survivor Core ($30) is one of a number of mostly transparent plastic cases for the new iPhones, but its extra-resilient corner bumpers stood out to us as a good anti-drop measure — and Griffin promises protection from up to 6.6-foot drops. The price is appealing, too.
Also consider: Spigen’s Slim Armor ($30) has an appealing price tag and dual-layer protection, offset by an awkward hole in the back and a flimsy video stand. Urban Armor Gear’s Composite Case ($40) is a little more expensive than the iPhone 6 version, but it’s still a very nice dual-layer case, with style.
Ultra-Protective for iPhone 6: Griffin’s Survivor All-Terrain ($50) is an aggressively-priced case for users who need water resistance and drop protection. While it’s not submersible, it can withstand windblown rain, sand, and dust, as well as 6.6-foot drops onto concrete; a slim-line detachable belt clip is included. Note that this isn’t a great option if you’re planning to use it as a “part-time” case, because it can be really challenging to put back onto an iPhone after you’ve fully disassembled it.
Also consider: OtterBox’s Defender ($60) is a bit more expensive and less protective than Survivor All-Terrain, but has a familiar Otter design that many users appreciate, and comes with a big old-fashioned belt clip holster for techies.
Ultra-Protective for iPhone 6 Plus: Griffin’s Survivor All-Terrain ($60) is $10 more expensive for the larger iPhone 6 Plus, but otherwise virtually identical in features, including anti-drop, rain, sand, and dust protection. A slim detachable belt clip is included. There aren’t a lot of options in this category, and like the iPhone 6 version, it can be very hard to put back onto the iPhone 6 Plus after removal. The added physical size also makes the iPhone 6 Plus harder to hold and pocket, but this will likely be an issue with other ultra-protective cases, too.
Also consider: The white and blue version of Griffin’s Survivor Slim ($45) has a space-age look versus the jet black model, but both cases use a combination of thick silicone, harder polycarbonate, and clear screen film to protect the majority of the iPhone 6 Plus. What you save in dollars and physical size is lost in water, dust, and sand protection.
A Few Alternatives
PureGear’s DualTek Extreme Shock Case ($35) isn’t the best-looking case we’ve tested, but does offer extra anti-drop protection.
Rokform’s Sport v3 ($39) combines a slightly soft but mostly hard plastic case with detachable magnetic mounting options at a very reasonable price. The edgy look of the case is pretty cool, and it comes with a hand strap if you need it.
SwitchEasy’s LifePocket ($40) is an early wallet-style case for the iPhone 6, available in three colors, and may particularly appeal to users who hope to use Apple Pay to transform the device into a repository for credit cards.