a variety of phone cases on table

A Buyer's Guide to the Different Types of Phone Cases

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A phone case is a phone case, right? Well, not exactly. Since the invention of cell phones and especially smartphones, phone cases have become more innovative and durable. They’re not just a decorative accessory to help glamorize your phone. Today, you can even find them in numerous materials, styles and functionality. Case-Mate even offers an eco-friendly phone case series made of bio-plastics derived from sustainably sourced materials.

But if you need a new phone case and are not sure where to start, Case-Mate is here to help. Here is a complete guide to the different types of phone cases you will find, along with their pros and cons.

Hard Plastic Phone Cases

holding phone with gold flaked case

Hard phone cases are often designed with a shell-like case molded from plastic or a plastic-based material. Each case is molded to fit a specific phone make and model, whether it’s an Apple or Android smartphone. One great advantage of hard plastic phone cases is that they are very lightweight and thin, adding practically no weight or bulk to your phone.

Due to the nature of plastic, it can be printed on with graphics, colors and prints, customizing the look of a case and offering a little bit of style. For example, Case-Mate offers floral prints from the Rifle Paper Co. and several chic-looking cases with holographic and glitter elements.

By protecting the back and sides from accidental bumps, hard drops and abrasive surfaces that cause scratches, hard cases offer some shock resistance and an extra layer of protection for your phone. However, there are some disadvantages to some plastic phone cases. Essentially, not all plastics are made the same. Some are weaker than others and while made to protect a phone, an inefficient phone case can shatter.

Luckily, Case-Mate’s plastic iPhone cases are designed to withstand whatever life throws at them. For example, each Case-Mate phone case offers extra features such as cushioned corners and soft flexible sides for easier control and better grip. Case-Mate cases are guaranteed to withstand a 10-foot drop and even offer a Lifetime Warranty. In addition, our plastic cases, which you hold in your hands and up to your face countless times a day, are made of non-toxic BPA-free plastic.

Looking to cut ties with single-use plastic altogether? Discover Case-Mate’s newest, eco-friendly phone cases made of bio-based plastics — our most innovative design yet! Made of recycled plastics and plant-based materials derived from renewable resources, we now offer a more sustainable alternative for those trying to reduce electronic waste. Now doesn’t that feel good? Check out this latest collection, available for the iPhone 13 series.

So if you’re in the market for an iPhone 11 phone case, iPhone 12 phone case or even one of our iPhone 13 cases, explore all Case-Mate has to offer. Of course, we carry Samsung phone cases, too.

Explore Samsung Cases

Gel/TPU Phone Cases

What we call a gel phone case is, scientifically speaking, made up of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). This plastic-based material offers more elasticity than their hard plastic case cousins and a bit more water resistance. Like standard plastic cases, gel phone cases are also slim and offered in a range of styles. Their gel-like material provides a significant advantage: the ability to withstand bumps and scratches.

Silicone Phone Cases

Silicone phone cases have been around for a while, since our smartphones became, well, smart. Silicone casings are a bit tacky to the touch but smooth and soft. One of their greatest advantages is the ability to grip practically any surface they are placed on without sliding or vibrating away. Today, you will more likely find “liquid silicone” phone cases, which offer a much more rigid case with the elasticity intact. Another great thing about silicone cases is that they offer a buttery-soft matte finish that resists fingerprints.

Tough Phone Cases

pelican heavy duty phone cases

What exactly are tough phone cases? Harder than standard plastic or gel cases, tough cases are designed rugged for all sorts of adventures and activities. Typically, they offer extra features like a reinforced shell, along with some degree of IP water protection rating and can withstand a 15-foot drop. However, while they are robust, you are sacrificing a more lightweight design. Instead, you can expect tough phone cases to be a bit heavier and bulkier.

Case-Mate’s Pelican phone case collection is our answer for tough phone cases. Each Pelican phone case offers a shock-absorbing shell, complete with TPR rubber lining. While all Case-Mate phone cases can take on a 10-foot drop, these robust phone cases can take on 15 feet and have been tested to military specifications to survive multiple drops. Furthermore, within each gel-like shell is MicroPel® Antimicrobial Case Protection.

Wallet Phone Cases and Flip Phone Cases

using wallet phone case holder

Practical and stylish, wallet phone cases are perfect for those who prefer a minimal approach to life and are always on the go. Doubling as a wallet and a phone case, wallet cases and wallet folios are often made of either faux leather (such as polyurethane or “PU”) or genuine leather, with the phone case section built with a polycarbonate insert the phone slips into. Once you are done with your phone, you simply fold over the wallet’s back, protecting the phone’s glass screen. Most wallet phone cases offer somewhere between two to four card pockets. Flip phone cases are very similar to a wallet case’s style, material and functionality but are smaller. They can be a flip wallet case or simply a flip case sans card pockets.

One major advantage of both the wallet and flip phone case? You can toss them back in your purse without worrying about scratching your phone. Though bulky, many women find the wallet phone case a smart alternative to a clutch handbag.

Find the Perfect Phone Case for You

Sometimes, it helps to touch and feel a phone case to see if it's the right match. So try on a few for size (so to speak) and find the perfect phone case for you. Order a collection from Case-Mate and return what you didn’t love for a full refund (minus shipping charges) within the first 30 days from the shipment date. Choosing a stylish and on-trend phone case should be fun and easy!

Discover iPhone Cases for All Models