A Buyer's Guide: What Material is Best for a Phone Case?
Having a smartphone without a case these days is a disaster waiting to happen, I mean, you wouldn’t ride a motorbike without a helmet right? Given the frequent use of these expensive but essential devices, it is crucial to keep them protected.
Whether you’re a technology lover and just have to have the latest handset - the new Apple iPhone 14 costing just over £1,000; are simply happy to upgrade when it’s due - the average mobile Contract ties you in for 24/36 months or are finally giving in to your child’s pleas because ‘all their friends have phones”… either way, you need to look after that device.
Choosing the right case for you can be confusing; which style of phone case will suit your daily life, will it look smart or expensive? Will it be fashionable? Will it be effective? So, before you decide, let us give you a quick and uncomplicated guide on what you need to consider before making a purchase.
The Silicone one
Silicone phone cases are softer and more flexible than many other types of cases, particularly hard plastic cases. They feel nice in the hand, with a good, comfortable grip, and are characteristically anti-slip. Because of their flexibility, silicone cases are very easy to put on and take off, making them incredibly practical. Due to their bendy nature, silicone cases can be easily manipulated to fit snugly onto the phone, much like a skin. Silicone cases tend to be specifically made for particular phone models, meaning the best fit, also ensuring that the port holes for connectors are in the right places. Often Shockproof Phone Cases are made from Silicone because of the durability and protection it offers.
Silicone is highly protective and durable by nature and is an excellent shock absorber due to its rubber-like material. If dropped it will not crack or chip like some other types of cases out there and if you drop your phone onto a hard surface, it can escape undamaged, however, silicone could be subject to damage by sharp or pointy surfaces due to its rubber-like nature.
Silicone cases are very effective in high temperatures due to their thermal stability and low thermal conductivity. They can offer good protection and prevent overheating, making them perfect for holidays/warm climates and those teenagers who play mobile games for long periods of time.
The dustproof nature of silicone reduces surface dust and debris, and the silicone itself is waterproof meaning they are also easy to clean. However, silicone is porous and over time lighter colours will discolour from constant use; in and out of pockets and bags and the natural oils from your hands (and the sticky fingers of your little ones!).
Some phones like the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Samsung S22 Ultra models tend to be larger than others, meaning any additional weight will make them rather heavy and bulky to have in your pocket for example – “Is that a phone in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”. Thin and lightweight, Silicone phone cases keep your phone protected whilst not adding too much additional weight/size to your device, meaning they are easy to pop into a bag, or pocket without taking up too much room, making them a popular choice for when exercising, students, whilst travelling etc.
And did you know that it is possible to recycle silicone, though not as easily as hard metal cases, for example, another added advantage of silicone is that, should it end up in our seas, it won’t break down into micro-fragments, as plastic tends to.
As silicone cases tend to come in solid colours, they are suitable for most occasions; plain black, dark colours for business and bright colours for sport, kids, and holidays, meaning they do not tend to become outdated.
- Silicone phone cases are soft, flexible and anti-slip, making them easy to put on and take off
- They are highly protective and durable, with excellent shock-absorbing properties
- Silicone cases are effective in high temperatures and dustproof, making them ideal for holidays and active users
- They are easy to clean and environmentally friendly, as they can be recycled and do not break down into micro-fragments in the sea
- Silicone cases are thin, lightweight and come in a variety of solid colours suitable for any occasion
- They are a practical, durable, and long-lasting phone case option
The leather one
Renowned for being luxurious, leather phone cases can give your phone that expensive, high-end look and can often be matched with other accessories, such as a handbag, wallet, iPad/laptop case and the like, to give a real understated sophistication.
Whilst quality leather cases sometimes have a premium attached, you can achieve the same look, and protection, with a faux leather case, at more affordable prices.
Our magnetic flip soft leather wallet case for iPhone is a popular design that doubles as both a phone case and a cardholder; stylish and practical! This style offers additional protection for the screen; the front part is opened like a book to access the phone and card section.
We’ve all done it, carrying too many things, precariously poking our phones into a shallow pocket, and yes, occasionally the inevitable has happened and we’ve dropped our devices! Leather is well known for being an effective shock absorber, meaning it should survive most minor drops without too much trouble. Offering superior protection than most materials, leather can also withstand impact with sharp/pointy objects, unlike silicone for example.
Most leather/faux leather cases are very protective due to the inner hard case and the outer leather coating. The only disadvantage is that they can tend to be slightly bulky in the pocket, but leather is regarded as one of the most durable materials available to protect your device, although it may age, and soften, it will retain its robustness and won’t perish like silicone can, or chip/crack like hard cases. It is a superior material that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear, leather will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
It’s getting hot in here! Similar to silicone, leather also has great thermal advantages meaning that when your phone heats up due to excessive use, apps running or whilst in hotter climates, it can dispel heat from the device and help prevent the phone from overheating. This is great for those who wish to use their device for prolonged periods of time, maybe watching a film on a long journey or those pesky kids who could make game play or watching YouTube an Olympic sport!
So, there you go, both the silicone and leather offer similar protection from everyday use, knocks, and minor impacts, but leather probably just pips silicone to the post. Although real leather is likely to have a more expensive price tag, you definitely get what you pay for, leather is sophisticated, durable and highly protective.
- Leather cases give phones a luxurious, high-end look that can be matched with other accessories.
- Faux leather cases can offer the same look and protection at a more affordable price.
- Leather is a good shock absorber and can withstand impact with sharp/pointy objects, making it more protective than some other materials like silicone.
- Leather cases can be slightly bulky in the pocket, but they are durable and won't perish or chip/crack like silicone or hard cases.
- Leather has thermal advantages, helping to prevent phones from overheating in high temperatures or during prolonged use.
- Real leather may have a more expensive price tag, but it is sophisticated, durable, and highly protective.
The hard one
Typically made from ABS/PC plastic (a thermoplastic alloy of (PC) polycarbonate and (ABS) acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) hard cases are strong. They can also be made from other non-flexible materials like aluminium and wood. Hard phone cases are usually a rigid shell-like surround which tends to be designed to fit specific phone models; the case fits onto the device, covering the back and sides of the phone, including the corners.
Hard cases are cheap and cheerful, come in many finishes, glossy, matte, patterns, and transparent and can be personalised with a Company logo for example. However, because of the inflexible nature of the plastic they can tend to break when dropped or manipulated on and off too much (weak points are formed). And for this reason, do not last as long as other materials available.
Unlike leather and silicone, hard cases don’t tend to have good shock absorption, if dropped, the hard plastic does provide good protection for the device, but it can't absorb the impact, meaning the case can chip, shatter or break, this does, unfortunately, mean they need to be replaced more often (although this is counterbalanced by their cheap price tag).
When it comes to temperature, hard cases are good at protecting your phone against heat and cold from outside sources, e.g., the sun, but at the same time, the heat from the device itself cannot escape, which means it can overheat more so than leather or silicone.
Plastic hard cases are great for adding a bit of personality to your phone, the smooth surface means it’s easy to attach accessories, such as PopSockets, stickers and rhinestones, making them perfect for kids.
Hard cases can be very easy to clean due to their typical smooth surface, although glossy/smooth surfaces will also scratch very easily; a high shine finish will eventually have more of a matte appearance. Dirt will gather in any ridges and too much exposure to sunlight can lead to the polycarbonate plastic discolouring slightly over time.
Hard cases made from aluminium would be easier to recycle than almost any other material, but as most hard phone cases are plastic, they are unfortunately more difficult to recycle. Plastic mainly ends up in landfill meaning they are not our environment’s friend.
In summary, if you want a phone case which will look nice, offer mid-range protection, and is easy on the wallet, a hard case is the one for you.
- Hard phone cases are typically made of plastic, such as ABS/PC or other non-flexible materials like aluminum and wood.
- They are usually designed to fit specific phone models and cover the back and sides of the phone, including the corners.
- Hard cases come in many finishes, including glossy, matte, patterns, and transparent, and can be personalized with a company logo.
- They are cheap but do not last as long as other materials, and they tend to break when dropped or manipulated too much.
- Hard cases do not have good shock absorption and can chip, shatter, or break if dropped.
- They are good at protecting phones against heat and cold from outside sources, but the heat from the device itself cannot escape, which can cause it to overheat.
- Hard cases are easy to clean but will scratch easily, and dirt will gather in any ridges.
- Plastic hard cases are difficult to recycle and mainly end up in landfills.
The tough one
Tough/Armour phone cases are made to be particularly durable; made with both hard and soft plastic/silicone. They have two or three layers of protection depending on the manufacturer – think the Terminator!
The multi-layer design typically includes softer plastic inside, offering great shock absorption, a hard plastic layer/shell, followed by an outer membrane of soft plastic/silicone, meaning they are extremely durable protecting both the phone and the case itself. Like with most phone cases, with the exception of the leather flip front design, they provide minimal front screen protection, although sometimes a bulbous rubber surround can provide a buffer to the screen itself, if dropped, depending on how the phone falls.
A lot of tough cases are drop-tested and shock-absorbent.
Due to the layering and materials used in tough cases, they are naturally much bulkier and heavier than standard phone cases. Although the thickness provides a better grip in the hand, they can be uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, and they are definitely cumbersome and heavy to have in your pocket or bag.
Tough phone cases are designed to last; they are perfect for military, construction workers, and people working outdoors, and they are great for active sports, such as mountain biking, so long as you can tolerate their size.
These beasts can be expensive due to the layers of materials used and the time spent reinforcing and testing them, but the tough case is superior as far as device protection is concerned.
- Tough/Armour phone cases are extremely durable and made with both hard and soft plastic/silicone.
- They typically have two or three layers of protection and offer great shock absorption.
- They provide minimal front screen protection, although sometimes a bulbous rubber surround can provide a buffer to the screen itself if dropped.
- Tough cases are drop-tested and shock-absorbent, making them perfect for military, construction workers, and people working outdoors, as well as active sports such as mountain biking.
- They are much bulkier and heavier than standard phone cases, making them uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time and cumbersome to carry in a pocket or bag.
- Tough cases can be expensive due to the layers of materials used and the time spent reinforcing and testing them, but they are superior as far as device protection is concerned.
In conclusion, when it comes to choosing the right phone case material, consider the following:
- Protection: Silicone cases are a popular choice due to their durability, shock absorption, and thermal stability, while leather cases offer superior protection.
- Screen protection: Regardless of the material you choose, it's important to also consider using a screen protector to keep your device safe from scratches and chips.
- Style: Whether you prefer a luxurious look with leather or a more practical and flexible option with silicone, there are plenty of style options to choose from.
- Convenience: Additional features like wrist straps, cross-body straps, and ring holders can provide added accessibility to your device.
- Personal preferences and daily needs: Ultimately, the best phone case material for you will depend on your personal preferences and daily needs, whether you prioritize protection, style, or convenience.