The 10 Best Rugged Phone Cases

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This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2016. When you've spent a small fortune on your smartphone, you would be wise to make sure you protect it from the everyday hazards of drops, scratches, and water. These cases are designed for various models, including iPhones and Android devices, and are built to withstand drops as well as water exposure and dust. Though iPhone cases are linked to, most of these are available for other brands, as well. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Urban Armor Gear Monarch

2. Griffin Technology Protector

3. OtterBox Defender Series

Editor's Notes

December 04, 2020:

With the release of each new phone comes a new wave of phone cases promising the best possible protection of what is indubitably an expensive investment in most situations. The cases on this list are listed primarily as iPhone cases, but all of them are available for Samsung Galaxy phones as well and many offer versions for other brands, too. Which one is right for you depends on your needs and the likely exposure of your phone to the elements.

It's important to note that the majority of these phone cases say that they meet military standards of protection. What they mean, in most situations, is that they can survive a four-foot drop after a designated number of times. That makes them better than the majority of cases you might find at the local drugstore, which is part of why they made the list in the first place. That said, there are multiple categories involved in military-grade testing, from drop endurance to water survival and dust protection. Only the Urban Armor Gear Monarch has documented that level of testing vetted by outside sources.

Screen protection is a big factor in how rugged you can describe a case as being. Each case on this list will provide significant protection within limits. While the majority of the brands listed here do not come with built-in screen protection, all of them come with raised case lips to provide minimal protection and offer branded screen protection that can be purchased separately. Even off-brand screen protectors will do the trick with each of the cases on the list.

While brands like the OtterBox Defender Series are well-known for being high-quality, the Griffin Technology Protector ranks higher because of outside testing demonstrating an exceptional level of durability. The Pelican Protector Series falls just short of the Otterbox only because of consumer feedback.

August 06, 2019:

It only takes one drop or well-placed bump to turn your smartphone into an expensive paperweight. For everyday protection, a lot of good cases are available, including some waterproof ones and good-looking wooden ones. But if you're prone to dropping things, or if you work in a physically demanding job, such as construction, you should check out rugged phone cases.

Think of them as a cheap insurance policy on your costly device. They are made with tough materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, or polycarbonate, and also feature a layer with shock-absorbing properties such as silicone or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Some also have reinforced corners that decrease the chance of spider-webbing your screen if you drop the phone on its corner.

In this update, we refreshed the list with cases designed for late-model iPhones and Android devices. We gave one of our top slots to the Rokform Rugged because of its innovative hole for a lanyard--ideal and necessary if you mount your phone on a motorcycle or bicycle.

Special Honors

Blackview BV9900 If you work in a world like construction or other outdoor endeavors that put your technology at risk, a rugged case may not be enough. In such situations, a phone built to survive without a case might be a better choice. The Blackview BV9900 fits the bill, having been designed to withstand abuse beyond your average smartphone with the same capabilities.

4. Pelican Protector Series

5. Lifeproof FRĒ SERIES

6. Spigen Tough Armor

7. SUPCase Unicorn Beetle Pro

8. Rokform Military Grade

9. Tech21 Evo Check

10. Catalyst iPhone 11 Pro Case

Lauren Nelson
Last updated by Lauren Nelson

Lauren is a writer, voice actress, and podcaster living in Chicago. As a nationally ranked competitive debater and performer at Western Kentucky University, she studied Corporate and Organizational Communication before successfully taking those skills to the world of marketing and public relations for over a decade, building brand stories in finance, real estate, technology, and more. She continues to tell stories today across a variety of professional and creative mediums while trying to keep up with her tweenage daughter and squeezing in the occasional hike.

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