Best 100 iPhone 6 & 6 Plus Cases Reviewed: Including Waterproof, Battery Charger, Ultra Thin and Leather Flip Cases and Covers – World’s Thinnest Case and Best of all will be revealed (Review by TheWireCutter)
After surveying almost 1,000 Wirecutter readers and testing close to 100 iPhone 6 cases over a period of about 50 hours (so far), our current pick for the best all-around case is the NGPfrom Incipio (available in black, clear/frost, blue, teal, pink, and red.) The NGP has protected several generations of iPhones (and many other devices) and has a reputation for providing solid protection and a good fit. It’s slim enough to not detract from the iPhone 6’s svelte dimensions, while still offering comprehensive protection for the handset’s body, including the buttons. Openings along the bottom allow for compatibility with a wide range of accessories.
The NGP line of cases comes in five translucent colors as well as opaque black. It retails for $20 but usually sells for less. Although this is a great case, it’s still early—the new iPhones are only about a month old so far. We’ll continue to be on the lookout for newer and better options as they’re released, updating this piece regularly.
If you prefer something that offers a higher level of protection, and are willing to deal with some more bulk, Logitech’s Protection [+] is a great alternative. It combines rubber and plastic to protect your phone from drops, and is part of an ecosystem of magnetic accessories (like car mounts) that can connect via a metal strip on the back of the case.
Bagmaker STM recently got into the case game and their Harbouris a truly great option if you’re going to be docking with accessories that aren’t physically compatible with other cases. Made of rubber and plastic, much like the CandyShell, it has a flip-open bottom that allows full access to the ports. This places it at a strong intersection of styles: full-time protection with universal dock and headphone compatibility.
While ultra-thin cases sacrifice protection for profile, Caudabe’s The Veil (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus) is our favorite for those who are mainly looking to prevent scratches. It’s just 0.35 millimeters thick, and it’s one of the few cases of this type to have a front lip—albeit a small one—for protecting the screen when you set your phone face-down.
If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of drop protection and durability for a much more pleasant-feeling case, you can do what several Wirecutter editors already have and get Apple’s leather case for $45. Unlike plastic or TPU cases, it’ll loosen a bit and get dirty over time—or it will develop a patina unique to your experiences. It depends on how you look at it.We’ve been testing a lot of cases for the iPhone 6, but more and more are being released every month. If you have a personal favorite that isn’t mentioned here already, please let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out for a future update.
(If you’re looking for iPhone 6 Plus cases, most of our picks come in both sizes. Seebelow for more info.)
Table of Contents
- Why you should trust me
- Why use a case?
- How we picked
- Note on pricing
- Our pick
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- For credit cards
Why you should trust me
I was the accessories editor at iLounge for a little over three years. During my tenure, I reviewed more than 1,000 products, most of which were cases. This number spans multiple generations of Apple products, from the iPhone 4 to the iPad Air and everything in between. I’ve probably handled more iPhone cases than almost anyone on the planet, giving me a particularly experienced perspective and depth of knowledge when it comes to cases.
Why use a case?
Depending on which configuration of iPhone you choose, the hardware is going to cost between $199 and $949. For most people—78 percent, according to 2012 testimony by Apple executives—that investment is worth protecting with a case.
Apple makes its handsets out of strong, yet bruisable material. The body is aluminum, which, if past iPhones are any indication, can easily ding and scratch, and the display is glass, not the stronger sapphire that had been rumored. Repairing the screen on an iPhone 6 costs $109—it’s $20 more for the 6 Plus—and an out-of-warranty repair if something else is busted costs $299 for the smaller model and $329 for the larger one, according to Apple’s support page.
Many early reviews found the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to be slippery, meaning they’re more likely to fall out of your hand and hit the ground. For what it’s worth, warranty provider SquareTrade gave the new iPhones the best scores yet in its “Breakability” tests, meaning they’re tougher than other phones out there. The 6 earned the best score of any phone they’ve tested thus far and they concluded that “the iPhone 6 Plus is not only more durable than most large screen phones, but it also outscored last generation’s iPhone 5S.” Even with these positive findings, the devices certainly aren’t indestructible. There are even reports of iPhone 6 bending when simply being carried in a pocket.
There are also some odd design choices that are best addressed by a case. For example the camera protrudes from the body of the iPhone 6, which makes it so that a naked iPhone can’t quite sit level on a flat surface. And on the front side, unlike some Android phones, there are no protruding speakers or microphones to keep the screen from contacting whatever surface you lay it down on.
Cases also help maintain the resale value of iPhones. And not just on eBay or Craigslist—trade-in values are affected too. A representative fromGazelle told us the “difference between ‘Perfect’ condition and ‘Good’ condition is just over $10, across all accepted iPhone models, the average dollar drop from ‘Perfect’ to ‘Broken/Cracked’ is $75.The other reason to use a case is personalization. While we’re recommending cases that are generally attractive, fashion choices are a very personal thing that we can’t decide for you. It’s perfectly valid to pick a case based on how it looks, although we suggest you look for the best of both worlds: aesthetics and protection.
How we picked
We were monitoring the iPhone 6 case market months before the device was even announced by Apple, communicating with companies about their plans and actually checking out a few review samples hands-on. In the days surrounding the iPhone 6 announcement, we immediately began checking in with companies that we know have made great cases in the past, based on our past testing at Wirecutter and that of sites like iLounge. We also searched Amazon and carrier websites and took a look at the lists different Apple-focused sites put together based on press releases.
Truth is, there are plenty of good iPhone cases out there. A bad case is actually a pretty rare thing. But in looking for a few cases that work for most people, we sought out a case that can adequately protect your phone without adding too much bulk or unnecessary embellishments while doing so. These assumptions are backed by polling data from our reader survey in which 86 percent of respondents agreed that protection shouldn’t come at the cost of the iPhone’s feel and aesthetic.
Apple sets forth very specific guidelines for case developers. The main thesis: “A well-designed case will securely house an Apple device while not interfering with the device’s operation.” From there, the document gets into details such as how high of a drop the case should protect damage from—one meter—to what components can and cannot be blocked to the size and shape requirements of the different openings. Detailed technical drawings show every measurement a developer could possibly need.
Although Apple’s guidelines are generally smart, they can sometimes limit real-world usability.
For example, any case that adheres to the company’s standards will block compatibility with most docks, which about a third of our survey respondents said was important to them. To us, it’s important that the Lightning port has enough room around it to be compatible with plugs larger than those found on the cables Apple ships. The same goes for the headphone port, where angled connectors can sometimes be a problem. If the speaker and microphone are protected with perforated material, that’s a bonus.
A respectable degree of shock absorption is important, as is a tight fit. The case should cover as much of the iPhone’s body as possible, including a raised lip around the glass display to keep it from lying flat on a surface.
“Exposed glass on the Apple device must not come within 1 mm of a flat surface, such as a table or floor, in any orientation when the case is attached,” state Apple’s guidelines. This helps to prevent cracked screens, one of the biggest worries with any iPhone. It used to be that cases would sometimes overlap the bezel, but the document now says, “Cases that claim compatibility with iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus should not contact the cover glass.” That likely has to do with a requirement found later in the document: “A case must allow the user to use edge swipe gestures that were introduced in iOS 7.0.”
It’s important that the case doesn’t hinder normal use of the iPhone at all, meaning it shouldn’t be any more difficult to use the handset fully when it’s inside the case than when it’s bare. Button protection helps in this regard. Cases that have simple cutouts to reveal the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons not only leave those pieces unprotected, but also make you press harder to reach through the material. The best cases offer button protection with great tactility, mimicking or in some instances even enhancing what you’d feel with a bare iPhone.
A pet peeve—but not an absolute deal breaker—is a circular opening exposing the Apple logo on the back of the phone. We get it, you have an iPhone. There’s no reason to leave part of it unprotected just to show it off, and there are enough good cases without such openings that we only considered stand-out cases with such gaps.
Based on these criteria, plastic shells are automatically out of the picture. This cheap and very prolific style of case may come in a million different designs, but it’s pretty much the least a company can do. They not only leave the buttons exposed, but the top and bottom edges of the phone as well. Oftentimes they’re advertised based on their thinness, which may sound appealing but is ultimately just marketing. There’s no good reason to pick a shell.
Sometimes a case will come with extras, such as screen film or a small stand, although those add-ins are becoming far less common these days. While these aren’t the biggest factors by far, they do add a few extra points to the overall picture.
Finally, now that the iPhone line includes near-field-communication (NFC) circuitry, cases shouldn’t block the NFC communication needed to use Apple Pay. This shouldn’t be a problem, as a good case won’t block any wireless signals—Wi-Fi, cellular, or NFC—but we test each case anyway.
A note on pricing
In a reader poll, 83 percent of respondents were willing to spend $30 on a case, so our picks should cover most of you. But it’s worth noting that the pricing of these things tends to drop off shortly after launch. For example, pricing data indicates that although the iPhone 5 version of the Speck CandyShell launched at $35 in late September 2012, it dropped down to about $20 after just a couple of weeks and never got higher than $30 in the time since then.
Incipio’s $20 NGP is the best iPhone 6 case for most people because it offers full body protection from drops and scuffs while adding minimal bulk. Including the protective lip around the screen, the case adds a little more than 2mm to the total depth of the handset, which is about half the extra thickness of our previous pick, the CandyShell. While those with extra-slippery butterfingers may benefit from the extra protection of the CandyShell’s dual-layer design, the NGP’s slimmer, but the still shock-absorbent design offers the best compromise between protection and aesthetics. It comes in opaque black and 5 translucent colors: clear/frost, blue, teal, pink, and red.
At 9.4mm thick, an iPhone 6 inside an NGP is still thinner than a Samsung S5 or HTC One M8 at their thickest points. This, combined with its matte finish, mean it slides easily into and out of your pocket. However, being thin does mean the protective lip isn’t as tall as the one on the CandyShell, measuring about 0.6mm compared to 1.3mm, but that’s still plenty to keep your screen from contacting a flat surface should you lay it face down. It also allows for easy access to the mute switch, which was an issue with some of the thicker, more protective cases like the Spigen Capella.
The NGP is made out of a single piece of flexible polymer material that the company calls Flex2O. This sounds fancy, but it’s really just a variant of standard thermoplastic polyurethane, which you may know as TPU. The American Chemistry Council says TPU “bridges the material gap between rubbers and plastics,” and is known for its “resistance to impacts, abrasions, tears, weather.” In other words, it’s an ideal material for making protective cases. But there are a lot of TPU cases that can be had for half as much as the NGP, so why pay extra? It comes down to the little things, like fit, button feel, and quality control.
Fit is often an issue with TPU cases like the NGP, especially in the corners (indeed, we had to stop recommending our previous step down due to inconsistent fit issues reported by user reviews), but NGP fits snugly and the corners won’t peel away unintentionally. Incipio has worked hard to fine-tune this case over the years and I’ve personally seen the quality of design and the fit improve to where it is today through various generations. At iLounge, I gave the iPhone 5c edition of the case a B+ rating, and the site just recently issued the same rating for the iPhone 6 Plus version.
As with all good cases, port openings are properly aligned and the button protection doesn’t dampen the clicking sensation. Buttons depress readily without requiring noticeably more pressure. This is important because even a little unpleasantness adds up to a lot of annoyance when repeated dozens of times daily. The opening for the headphone port and microphone is a 6mm-diameter circle, narrowing down to 4mm, and for the Lightning port, it’s 13.5mm wide and 6mm tall. That should be plenty of room for most cables and headphones.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
We’ve found only two minor flaws with the NGP, one of which could fairly be described as nitpicky. The first is the lip, as mentioned above. At 0.6mm tall, it falls below the 1mm threshold Apple recommends in its case developer guide. The raised edge is still more than what is found on some cases though—including Verus’ Crystal Mixx with its 0.3mm lip, which we discuss later in this piece—and it’s significant enough that we’d feel comfortable laying the iPhone 6 face-down on a table.
The other issue is a trifle. There’s a black ring around the camera opening, which is meant to help prevent color issues when the flash is used. On our review unit, the paint is slightly uneven. It’s not so bad that it’ll have an effect on pictures, but perfectionists may notice the uneven paint job. And those with the black version won’t even have to worry.
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