Buy This, Not That: The best iPhone cases for under $15 for every recent iPhone


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The case for these iPhone cases is strong.

In 2018, 217.72 million iPhones were shipped worldwide, according to Statista — with prices for newer models sometimes hitting $999. Despite the high cost of the product, 25% of iPhone users reported not using a case according to a survey by the NPD Group. What’s more, Americans break more than 50 million smartphone screens a year, and in 2017, spent $3.7 billion to replace them, according to a study released in 2018 by Allstate subsidiary SquareTrade. Fixing them wasn’t cheap either. On average, the cost of repairing a screen is $170.

It’s not because Americans are unusually careless, or have particularly sweaty hands. Instead, says Chandra Steele, senior features writer at PCMag.com, smartphones are getting both more delicate and harder to hold. “A lot of people opt for the really big models,” she says. “I personally have small hands, and it’s far easier to drop those phones.” The good news is the problem is easily preventable. The fix? A good case.

And the case doesn’t even need to be made by an expensive brand such as OtterBox or LifeProof to effectively protect your smartphone, says Jeff Lee, the deals expert at TechBargains.com. “If you’re out in the field in construction, maybe you need a heavy duty waterproof case, and you will have to pay $50 to $100 for one,” he says. “But for 80% of us, our needs are basically just to prevent the phone from the shock of dropping it.”

So before you run out to buy the iPhone 11, consider purchasing one of the cases for the last five models of the iPhone recommended by tech experts below.

For the iPhone XR: Mkeke Clear Anti-Scratch Shock Absorption Case, $8.99

One of the highlights of the iPhone XR is that it comes in six distinct colors — black, white, capri, yellow, coral and red. Chances are, if you own an XR, you want to show the back off. For that, the Mkeke Clear Anti-Scratch Shock Absorption Case is perfect. Made of clear, scratch-resistant plastics, the case is formulated with an air space cushion that protects the iPhone from sudden drops. It gets 4.8 out of 5 stars from 6,934 reviews on Amazon. Read more about the phone here.

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iPhone XS Max: Smartish Kung Fu Grip, $11.99

Amazon.com

The Smartish Kung Fu Grip is the case Wirecutter recommends for the last six iPhone models — 7, 8, X, XS, XS Max and XR. We recommend it specifically for the XS Max because at 6.5 inches, its screen is the largest of all iPhone models to date. As Steele notes above, the larger the screen, the more unwieldy it becomes in your hands. The material of the Smartish Kung Fu Grip is grippy and tactile, which prevents the iPhone from slipping, no matter how large your fingers. Features include four protective air pocket corners built into the interior of the case, as well as tactile “click” buttons and a free screen protector. Even though it’s not the most glamorous looking case — it comes in four muted colors with snappy names like “Nothin’ To Hide”— it gets the job done. Read more about the phone here.

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iPhone XS: Speck Presidio Pro, $10.39

The iPhone X was only out for 10 months before the XS made it obsolete—but the newer model isn’t necessarily longer lasting. After durability tests in which the iPhone XS was repeatedly dropped 50 times, Consumer Reports notes that two of three sample phones was considerably damaged. For this reason, consider buying a more heavy-duty case for your iPhone XS. Wirecutter recommends the Speck Presidio Pro, which features an interior lining that compresses on impact to disperse shock, and prevent breakage. Other features include a polycarbonate outer shell, a raised lip and a scratch-resistant finish. Usually $40, the Speck Presidio Pro is currently on sale in black for $10.39. Read more about the phone here.

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iPhone X: Smartish iPhone X Wallet Case

In a world in which you spend your life on your phone, it makes sense for the object to serve multiple purposes—for example, as a wallet. The Smartish iPhone X Wallet Case not only has high-grip textured sides and protective air pocket corners, it also fits up to three credit cards as well as cash. Wirecutter notes that the Smartish iPhone X Wallet is made of the same grippy TPU plastic as the Smartish Kung Fu Grip case, and wears well over time. On Amazon, the case gets a 4.6 out of 5 star rating from 1,851 customer reviews. Read more about the phone here.

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iPhone 8: YOUMAKER Case for iPhone with Built-in Screen Protector, $14.99

A more affordable competitor to the OtterBox, the YOUMAKER case has built-in screen protection, and is constructed from shockproof and scratch-resistant plastics that the brand describes as “military grade.” The case is a good fit for the iPhone 8, which was the first model of iPhone to have a glass back, making it more vulnerable to shattering. Fans of the aesthetics of the iPhone will appreciate that the YOUMAKER comes in a variety of metallic colors, including gold, purple, silver and blue. The case receives great reviews from Amazon users, with 2,789 reviewers giving it 4.3 out of 5 stars. Read more about this phone here.

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