The two most common materials used in the bodies of iPhone cases are plastic and rubber. Often times, they’re used in conjunction, which allows manufacturers to take advantage of the benefits of both materials, including ease of installation and a high level of protection. Such cases have been common for many generations of iPhones, and have shown up among the earliest options for the iPhone 5c. Here, we test three of them: Incipio’s [OVRMLD] ($35), Tylt’s Band ($35), and Ruggd ($35).
[OVRMLD] has gone through a handful of permutations, from the early Executive OVRMLD for the original iPhone, to the more recent version for iPhone 5. The iPhone 5c edition is much more similar to the latter, but it has still been overhauled rather thoroughly. Last year, it was essentially a matte take on Speck’s CandyShell. This time, it has the same soft-touch finish, but the rubber has been relegated to the border, and the plastic to the back. Incipio is offering the case in four color combinations, plus a clear version.
Its curves match those of the iPhone 5c perfectly, and all the button covers and port holes are in the right places. This includes the standard three openings along the bottom for the headphone port and mic, Lightning port, and speaker that we’ve seen on many 5c cases, plus molded rubber over the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons. The volume controls stay nice and clicky, but the Sleep/Wake button’s tactility is significantly dampened, meaning you have to press harder to activate it, and may not be able to feel when you actually depress it.
Structurally, Tylt’s Band is very similar to [OVRMLD], although it uses the rubber more extensively. Available with bright yellow, pink, or blue rubber against grey plastic, the case is pretty much identical in its dimensions. Instead of the plastic stopping at the back, it runs up the sides, leaving the rubber exposed as a lip around the screen, and in segments surrounding the buttons and ports. The plastic also cuts away in a strip along the back, with the rubber sitting flush as an accent. Band’s openings are a little bit smaller than [OVRMLD]‘s, but they’re still large enough to accept third-party cables. As for the buttons, Tylt got things totally right. They jut out enough that they’re easy to find without looking, and if anything, they increase the tactility of the controls. You’ll feel—and hear—each click.
Lastly, Ruggd is a bulkier take on the style, designed to add extra shock protection. It has elements of both [OVRMLD] and Band, as the rubber and plastic layers double up along the back, but the border around the edge is only rubber; it’s available in grey or highlighter yellow. In addition to ridges that add texture along the sides, there are nubs sticking out from the corners that help protect from damage if you drop the phone. Additionally, Tylt says it uses “premium vulcanized copolymer” and an energy-absorbing inner layer for an even higher level of protection. Like Band, this one includes great button protection.
While all three of these are good options, it’s Band that comes out on top, by a narrow margin. It offers a slim profile that doesn’t skimp on protection, and offers the benefits that come with a layer of rubber inside a layer of plastic. Other than some aesthetic tweaks, there’s very little that could be done to improve the case, making it worthy of our high recommendation. [OVRMLD] is just a step lower, as is Ruggd. The first’s biggest fault is it’s mushy Sleep/Wake button coverage, but it’s not enough to prevent us from recommending it. As for Ruggd, we don’t love the way it looks, but it’s hard to argue with that level of shock absorbency for the price.
Company and Price
Price: $35 each
Compatible: iPhone 5c