Case, or no case?
The great case debate: Though it’s a shame to cover up your shiny, pretty new iPhone, the downside is that you risk dropping it or getting it all scratched up if you leave it bare. So, if you have to put a case on it, might as well make it a good case.
We try out a ton of cases, but there are some that we just keep coming back to, despite our differences in taste. Here are some of our favorite cases for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple's Leather Case
If you’d like to stay within the Apple family of products, the Leather Case for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus ($45 to $49) is the way to go. This hard-shell case is a step up from the basic Silicone Case, adding a leather finish for a hint of sophistication. It keeps a super-slim profile as well, which is especially important to keep in mind if you have the ultra-sized iPhone 6 Plus. The Leather Case is available in black, red, midnight blue, olive brown, and soft pink. (If you have a gold iPhone, we highly recommend the midnight blue version, which contrasts well with the white and gold.)
Dodocase Durables Wallet
Dodocase’s $50 Durables Wallet has been a favorite of ours since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012. It’s perfect for those who prefer to use their iPhones without a case, but want to keep it covered when not in use. The Durables Wallet is a well-crafted little pouch made of leather and waxed canvas. It has a pocket on each side to hold a few cards or some cash (we typically stash our public transit passes here for easy access), and fits your phone well enough that it shouldn’t slip out without some effort.
Though we all could use a bit of sparkle in our lives, most sparkly cases tend to look a little cheap, and a little tacky (that's part of the appeal!) But not Case-Mate's $80 Brilliance, which is a gorgeous, sophisticated take on bedazzled cases. Instead of plastic rhinestones and glitter, the Brilliance sports genuine crystals and leather, plus metal accents and additional details. The case itself is rigid but easy to put on, thanks to its two-part design (the bumper separates from the back and snaps on). Metal button overlaps protect your sleep/wake and volume buttons, and the case leaves openings for access to ports, speakers, and your mute switch. The case itself is made of lightweight plastic, which helps balance out the weight of the crystals—though it will still add a little weight to your phone. But the extra weight is worth it for the heads you'll turn!
EXOvault's EXO23 case for the iPhone 6, which starts at $250 and goes up to $300 depending on materials used, might cost more than your iPhone. But that's okay, because this is one of those cases that's a work of art in and of itself. The beautifully designed EXO23 cases feature metal frames (black aluminum, silver aluminum, and brass) and wood panels (teak, walnut, and Louro Preto). The case is hinged and has a strong magnetic clasp, which makes it one of the easiest cases to put on your phone—just open it up, drop your phone in, and snap it shut. The EXO23 has cutouts for buttons and ports, and a metal bezel around the face of your iPhone to help protect the screen when placed facedown. Although these cases haven't been drop-tested, they're extremely sturdy.
Wooden cases are undeniably hip, and Grovemade's $100 Maple case is the hippest—this ultra-slim, beautifully engineered case is stunning without being overwrought. The case features wood button overlays and cutouts for all ports, and an easy-to-use two-part design. The Maple case actually has a pretty unique design: The back plate adheres to the back of your phone, while the bumper snaps around the edge (and into the back plate). This means there's no chance of the back plate snapping off if you happen to drop your phone, which is one of the biggest concerns about two-part cases. Of course, it also means that swapping cases is slightly more difficult -- the adhesive leaves no residue, but you'll have to protect the back plate's adhesive if you want to use the case again. But seriously, once you have this case on your phone, are you ever going to want to take it off?
Pong's $50 Sleek case isn't just pretty—it also protects you from cellphone radiation. According to the company, the Sleek case contains a thin gold antenna that has been "proven in FCC-certified laboratories" to reduce your exposure to mobile device radiation by up to five times below the FCC Specific Absorption Rate. Because the case is redirecting radiation away from you, it also reportedly improves your phone's wireless signal. Either way, this soft, rubbery snap-on case is pretty and protective. The Sleek comes in black, white, and red, and features a latticework design on the back that lets the gold antenna peek through.
Folio cases for the iPhone are great in theory, since the case’s front cover keeps the iPhone’s display protected when not in use to eliminate scratches. But have you ever tried making a phone call with a folio case? The cover awkwardly gets in the way.
Moshi’s $50 SenseCover cleverly fixes that problem. The cover has a window on the front to show the time, and a touch-sensitive sensor along the bottom. When you get an incoming call, you can see who is calling through the window, and the sensor is perfectly aligned with the iPhone’s slide-to-answer area. Slide your finger along the sensor to answer the call, all without opening the cover. You can even talk on the phone with the front flap closed, as the SenseCover doesn’t block the microphone or speaker. Plus, it’s made from an ultra sleek, ultra slim material that really compliments the iPhone’s style.
Speck's CandyShell cases are popular for their military-grade protection and their bright colors. But what if you need a little extra protection? Enter Speck's $50 MightyShell, which offers twice the military-grade protection (it meets double the requirements for MIL-STD-810G drop tests) and a similar, colorful design. The MightyShell is easier to hold than the CandyShell, thanks to its rubberized bumper and matte back plate. It comes in black, pink, orange, purple, and clear, and features a special "radial impact geometry" that helps cushion your phone when it falls. It's basically twice the protection of the CandyShell without too much extra bulk—the MightyShell adds an extra 0.18-inches to your phone, while the CandyShell adds 0.16-inches. The only caveat—Speck’s cases can be difficult to take off.
STM’s $25 Harbour case is not a run-of-the-mill hard-shell case. It sports a hinged dock on the bottom, which you can pop open for a makeshift stand or if you want to use your iPhone with any tight-fitting dock-cradle accessories. Button overlays protect your volume and sleep/wake buttons, with cutouts for the mute switch, back camera and flash, microphone, Lightning connector, headphone jack, and speaker. It also has a raised edge to keep your iPhone’s display protected when placed facedown. Each case comes in a two-toned color scheme, too, for a bit of extra style.
Wallet cases are useful but decidedly uncool, because what do you do when you want to just carry your phone around without all that extra bulk? Tavik's $60 Fletch case has the answer—it's a two-in-one folio case that lets you remove the wallet part when you need to. The Fletch comes in black and brown, and has a leatherette cover with an elastic closure. There are three card slots inside the front cover, and your iPhone easily snaps into the polycarbonate snap-on case. You can then snap the case out of the wallet, and you'll be left with a slim black case that has a soft, rubbery feel.
Trident Kraken A.M.S.
Do you frequently throw your phone off of cliffs? If so, Trident's ultra-rugged Kraken A.M.S. case is the best $50 you'll ever spend. (If not, this is still a great case for outdoorsy types.) This military-grade case turns your phone into a superhero that can withstand drops, dust, vibration, and rain (but not immersion). It's bulky, but in that cool, I-just-went-off-roading-on-the-moon kind of way. It has a built-in plastic screen protector, a detachable screen cover with a belt clip, a detachable aluminum stand, and a lanyard loop. The Kraken A.M.S. covers all ports and buttons, and comes in black, blue, gray, pink, red, green, and white.