Best iPhone Cases for The Outdoors
In this modern age, smartphone cases are becoming as prominent as ever. It seems that manufacturers and cell phone juggernauts around the world are shifting their primary focus of smartphones to bezel-less and “all-screen” displays. Some, are even going as far as to remove any buttons on the interface of the phone, period. While this enhances the resolution and quality of the phone, it makes them more prone to accidental breakings. Without a smartphone case on your phone, with some of them, you risk serious damage. In addition, when you are outdoors your phone is exposed to more dangers. In other words, it is wise to protect your smartphone with an excellent case. For iPhone users, down below are some of the best cases that you can use when you are outdoors. These specific brands and models have been ranked based upon specific criteria, user feedback, and overall quality.
Our Top 3 Picks
- OTTERBOX DEFENDER
- 1 year warranty
- JOTO UNIVERSAL
- Universal design
- TRIANIUM UNIVERSAL
- Waterproof up to 100 feet
- Tightly sealed
10 Best iPhone Cases for Outdoors
The Defender is a three-layer protective case that will withstand drops, bumps, and shock. In addition, there is a built-in screen protector that will protect your phone from scratches. Plus, the port cover keeps out any debris and dust.
This is specifically designed to work for the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus. Any other smartphones may not work appropriately.
No need for concern with ports and functions not accessible with the case on as it has proper holes cut out to accommodate all functions. Also, the Defender case will slide easily in and out of your pockets.
In the instance where you are using your iPhone to watch movies or videos, there is a belt-clip holster that works as kickstand feature. Thus, allowing for hands-free viewing.
A decent amount of color options are available including indigo harbor, black, seacrest and glacier.
Few smartphone cases combine functionality, protection and visual appeal as well as the Defender from OtterBox. Maybe the true downside is it is only compatible with the iPhone 6 Plus/ 6s Plus.
- Protects against impacts, falls, drops, dust and scratches
- Backed up with a one-year warranty that covers workmanship defects
- Can be a major hassle to get it on and off
- The port covers open up towards the front bezel
Joto universal waterproof
While maintaining full functionality, the JOTO’s unique design completely protects your phone from dirt, snow, water and scratches.
For any smartphones, up to 6” (measuring diagonally), this waterproof case is compatible. Making it suitable for iPhones and various other smartphone models.
On both the front and the back, there is a clear window that allows you to take pictures, videos, and check your emails.
It not only features a simple snap and lock access, but also a neck strap that allows for convenient carrying.
A strong selection of color options including green, white, camo blue, camo, black and blue.
For what it is designed for, complete protection against water and the outdoors, it is nearly impeccable. At times, though, some may see it as a hindrance.
- Completely encapsulates your phone to protect it from water and the dangers of the outdoor world
- A universal design fits all smartphones up to 6” in size
- Under water, the touch sensitivity is not very good
- For inside use, this may not be necessary
Composed of a highly-durable polyurethane material, this case protects your smartphone from bumps, grease, dirt, dust, water, snow and scratches.
Much like the JOTO, this is universally designed for smartphones up to 6” in size. This would include the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 6s and 6.
The dual-side transparent window allows you to function your smartphone as you normally would, even with the pouch equipped.
When opening, or sealing this pouch, a swivel lock design ensures a user-friendly experience (some of the time).
Not too many to speak of but you can choose between black, white, and white and pink.
You could argue that this and the JOTO are mirror images of each other. Perhaps the only issue that could sway your decision is the lack of color options.
- It maintains waterproof capabilities for up to 100 feet
- Trianium backs this case up with a one-year warranty
- It can be difficult to open and close at times, thanks to the clips that seal the bag
Spigen ultra hybrid
For extra protection against drops and falls, the corners are equipped with air cushion technology. In addition, the raised bezels lift your camera and screen off flat surfaces.
Only a select few, unfortunately, will be able to enjoy this specific Spigen case. It is compatible with the iPhone 6s and 6.
With the case, fully on and secured, you can easily feel and press each button on the interface of your smartphone. Also, large cutouts will fit most cables and ports.
The intense transparency of the case itself flaunts the design of the iPhone 6s and 6. For added grip, there is a TPU bumper.
An adequate amount of colors are available including mint, crystal clear and black.
Pure quality, that is the best way to describe the Ultra Hybrid case from Spigen. Only one minor design flaw keeps it from reaching greater heights.
- Air cushion technology offers great protection against drops and falls
- Constructed of a hard-fused back with a flexible TPU bumper
- After several months, the edges of the case may experience discoloring
It is made from PC and TPU which offers maximum protection. Plus, it has air cushioned corners and advanced shock absorption technology.
This case is specifically designed for the iPhone 6 and 6s.
Already cut-out in the case are spaces for your speakers, camera and other ports for easy access. Plus, all the controls and features are available to you while the case is on your smartphone.
For user preference, there is a customize option that allows you to create a unique case for you.
Black, gold, gray, rose gold and clear make up a stellar amount of color options at your disposal.
For outdoor endeavors, in the sense of both protection and style, this smartphone case is amongst the elite. Protection against scratches, with a screen-protector, would have been a nice touch, though.
- Advanced shock absorption technology and air cushioned corners provide maximum protection
- Customize option allows you to create a unique case
- There is no screen-protector
- The logo on the back side of the case can engrave on your phone itself
This is geared to protect your phone from all dangers in the outside world including a scratch-resistant screen, high-grade TPU and PC materials to absorb shock, and an elevated bezel to prevent your camera and screen from touching any surface.
iPhone 7 Plus users are the only ones in luck, as this is compatible with this specific phone.
While the case is installed, all the features and buttons are easily accessible on the iPhone 7 Plus.
It also sports defined edges, a smooth transparent black finish and a minimalist bumper design.
Just a few are available including navy, black, green and pink.
It is hard to justify this smartphone case coming in so low, as its design would seem to prove otherwise. But, in the world of smartphone cases, one or two drawbacks can bring you down.
- The case is slim and lightweight, making it easy to slip in and out of your pocket
- Excellent technology for protection purposes
- Pushing the buttons, while this case is on, requires a little more force than it should
The case creates a secure seal around your phone and ensures it is safe from dirt, dust, water and scratches. It is certified for up to 100 feet.
It is compatible with any phones that are up to 6” in size, this includes high-end devices such as the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and 6.
On both the front and the back, there is a crystal-clear window that allows you to access your phone without removing it (including touchscreen functionality).
It will easily attach to your wrist, making it perfect for outdoor swimming activities.
Just a few including light blue, pink and black.
This waterproof case is superb and will work great for activities where you are worried about your phone’s protection.
- With a simple snap locking system, it is very easy to use
- A universal design accommodates for many different iPhones
- For the iPhone 7, it will not properly accommodate the Home button
- The pictures it takes through the case are poor in quality
Designed for extreme conditions, this case is fully submersible and waterproof.
As with the other waterproof cases that have made their way on this list, it will fit any smartphones below 6” in size. This will include the iPhone 7 Plus, 7, 6s, 6s Plus and others.
The phone cover is designed to not hinder the performance of the touchscreen functionality on phones, but it can be hard at times. In addition, you can use your camera while this case is installed.
It is easy to keep out of water, snow, dust and sand with its simple snap and lock access.
Various options can be chosen including clear, pink and black.
Its purpose is amazing and though at times it can be difficult to operate the touchscreen functionality, it will protect your smartphone from nearly anything.
- All-around transparent material does not block the camera
- Designed for underwater use
- Operating the touch screen can prove problematic at times
Otterbox commuter series
The Commuter is a two-piece case that provides adequate protection against shock, dust, drops and bumps. Plus, a self-adhesive screen protector guards against scratches.
It is designed for both the iPhone 6 and 6s, but not the Plus versions.
Due to the lightweight and slim design, it easily slips in and out of your pocket. In addition, it will not take up excess space in your carrying bags.
Included with the case itself are step-by-step instructions to allow for the easiest installation possible.
Quite a few are available including aqua sky, black, glacier white and ink blue.
The Commuter is an excellent example of a product that has few issues, but one that does not necessarily stand above the rest of the pack.
- Includes a one year warranty
- The self-adhesive screen protector guards against scratches
- The screen saver is a flimsy piece of plastic that does not fit snug and can scratch very easily when putting on
The premium hard PC mount seal provides adequate protection against water and the outside world; making it perfect for swimming and boating.
For up to 5.5” in size, this case will universally fit all smartphones. While a little smaller than other waterproof cases, this will still fit the iPhone 6, 6s and 6 Plus.
The material on the outside is super-thin, only 0.3mm, which assists in creating a sensitive touchscreen.
The swivel lock design ensures a simple open and seal.
A strong amount of options including black and blue, black and ocean blue, black and rose red, and black.
A few design issues slightly warrant the low ranking, but that does not take away from the amount of quality present here.
- Includes a one-year warranty
- Constructed with high-quality material
- On a hot and humid day, it would probably cause your phone to overheat
- It does not work properly with the iPhone 7, hiding the Home button
Criteria for Evaluation
How Well the Case Will Protect Your iPhone
Above all else, smartphone cases should protect your phone from the dangers of the outside world. That is the overall purpose of their existence and without it, there nothing more than a useless accessory for your smartphone. However, protection can be broken down into several different subfields. Some of which are more important than others, but they all provide the one aspect that is vitally needed for a smartphone case. After all, many smartphones (specifically iPhones) are not cheap.
Perhaps the most common form of protection that iPhone cases provide is against drops and falls from a certain amount of height. They can accomplish this in different ways, and one is by implementing advanced shock absorption technology. When you drop your phone from a reasonable distance, say on the ground when you are holding it, there will be a lot of shock that is created when it contacts the surface. With a case built to absorb most of it, there is less of a chance that the phone itself will break or crack. Some other design choices you can look for are corners that are equipped with air cushioning technology and cases that are composed of highly-durable polyurethane.
Then, there is the convenience of having a screen protector attached to the case. Technology-based hardware, such as iPhones and tablets, nowadays put an extremely high emphasis on touch-screen capabilities. As such, the risk of damaging your screen is heightened. With cases that have a screen protector, you no longer need to concern yourself with accidental scratches or scuffs on the screen. Also, keep a special eye out for models that raise the bezels to lift your camera and screen off of flat surfaces.
Lastly, you can’t talk about the protection from iPhone cases without mentioning their waterproof capabilities, or lack thereof. There are a plethora of iPhone cases on this list that are designed solely for their waterproof nature. These types literally encapsulate your phone to prevent water from penetrating any portion of it. For boating, kayaking, or swimming trips, these cases will be perfect to protect your iPhone.
What Smartphones the Cases are Compatible With
A smartphone case that does not fit your phone is like a pair of sneakers that do not fit you. No matter how well-designed and visually appealing a pair of shoes are, they are not very useful unless they are on your feet, huh? The same principle applies to smartphones cases, so be wary of this. As this list is aimed towards iPhones, every single entry is compatible with some sort of iPhone. However, each one will vary; even from different types of the same phone.
As the older iPhones are slowly becoming extinct, each entry on this list typically accommodated for either the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. If you have an older version of an iPhone, there is a good chance that these will not fit it. Thankfully, some manufacturers will make a case for each separate version of the iPhone. So, even if you have an iPhone 5 you should still be able to find one with the manufacturers above.
Of course, then you have the special smartphone cases that are universally designed. Typically, if a case is universally designed, the seller will specify when the tag “universal” no longer applies. For example, stating that smartphones up to 5.5” or 6” in size (diagonally) will fit properly. Not only does this adapt for multiple brands and different versions of the iPhone, for future installments (if they are under the maximum size) they will work as well.
If They Become a Hindrance While Installed
There are two huge aspects that iPhone cases, or any smartphone case, need to excel at to be considered elite. One has already been addressed, the protection and the other is how convenient they are while in use. Or, maybe more accurately, if they become a hindrance while they are installed on your iPhone. It would be counter-intuitive to remove the case on a phone to access its features and interface. They need to protect your phone but also not get in the way while you are using your phone.
Accomplishing this feat is not difficult and most designers will cut out holes that allow you to access cables, ports, cameras and buttons on your iPhone. Even with the models that have a screen protector, it should be thin enough to not alter the experience when using your phone. Those that do, whether by making the buttons too hard to press or glitching the touch screen functionality, you need to be wary of. Besides this, extra-bulky cases can prove problematic as well. Most iPhones are already easy enough to slip in and out of your pockets, so you probably do not want that to be messed with. Keeping them slim, which does not mean they are cheaper, can be an advantage.
As far as the waterproof cases, they are a little special. These types are designed to allow your smartphone to be submerged in water, meaning they are encapsulated inside. While doing so, the primary functions of an iPhone still need to be accessible to you. Some will be a little harder to access than others, serving as better security measures than anything, and others will not properly accommodate the Home button for the iPhone 7 (which can be an issue for users of this particular iPhone).
Any Other Features to Speak Of
The stressful aspects of an iPhone case are now behind you, as the previous three can either make or break it. Now, it is time to look at any additional features that are either included with the case itself or with your purchase. Typically, none of these will hurt the overall quality if they are not present. But, there may be a special feature that puts it over the top for you (as many on this list have). For example, here are several that you can look out for.
If you enjoy using your iPhone as a means to watch movies or videos, it is extra convenient if a belt-clip is included that creates a kickstand for your phone. Thus, allowing you to kick back and relax without having to struggle trying to prop your phone up on its side. How about cases that have a TPU, or any other stiff material, bumper for an added grip. iPhones can be slippery and even though cases will provide protection, it still is not good to drop your phone too many times. But, the grip can also simply provide a better feel for your hands.
For people interested in the waterproof cases, there are special features for them as well. Some will come equipped with a neck or wrist strap that will easily allow you to secure it to your body. Others will be designed with a simple snap and lock, or swivel-lock, for an easy open and seal.
The Different Types of Color Options that are Available
One of the biggest reservations that people may have with owning a case is that the natural design and color of their smartphone is perfect. While this will vary from person to person, this is a valid argument. But, if you have this doubt, just know that most sellers will include multiple color options for you to select from. A lot of them, to be honest, enhance the overall look of the iPhone (no matter the type). You may even get to the point where the color and design become the most important criterion.
Everyone should be able to find a color that suits them, even if it requires you to choose a different case altogether. Unfortunately, the ones that do not offer many color options may not suit you very well. The same goes for the waterproof cases, as even they have different types of colors that may end up swaying your decision. You are going to have to stare at the case every single time you use your phone, give or take, so you better like the design!
Additional Aspects to Consider
No matter the product you are about to invest in, an included warranty is always an added bonus to look out for. After all, you never know when a part will come defected or broken. Not all warranties will cover the same criteria so if there is an included one, be sure to have knowledge of what will fall under it. Besides this, for the waterproof cases, they may not be necessary for indoor use. They are terrific at protecting your phone when outdoors, specifically in water, but they might be overkill indoors.
Q: Will an iPhone Case Fit an iPod?
Some cases are specifically designed to fit a certain type of iPhone, for example, the 6 Plus or 6s. But, what about iPods, will they properly fit them? For each specific iPod Touch, it will vary. There really is not a yes or no answer to this question, but let’s address the iPhone 5 and 6 for an example. If you have an iPod Touch 6th generation, then you should be able to fit an iPhone 5 case on it with little to no issue. Although, it may take a little wiggling on your part. But, if you try the to put an iPhone 6 case on this exact same iPod it would not fit as iPhone 6 cases are larger and have different dimensions.
Also, an iPod Touch 5th generation will fit inside of an iPhone 5 case. As there are so many different versions of each phone and music player, this question can be answered in so many different ways.
Q: Will an iPhone 6 Case fit an iPhone 6s and Will an iPhone 7 Plus Case fit an iPhone 6 Plus?
These are extremely similar questions, so they might as well be addressed in the same section. When sellers specify that their case is only designed for, as an example, the iPhone 6, it can lead to confusion. Even though they do not state it, will this type of case fit on a 6s? The simple answer is yes it will and even if a seller does not specify it, it will fit. The iPhone 6 and the 6s are the same sizes, with the primary difference being the 3D Touch technology.
But, it gets a little trickier when talking about the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6 Plus. It seems illogical, but a 6 Plus case will not fit an iPhone 7 but an iPhone 7 Plus case will fit an iPhone 6 Plus (with some drawbacks). Because the camera and the speakers are different on these phones, an iPhone 7 Plus case will not fit naturally on an iPhone 6 Plus. With the speaker, it will be touching the rear camera lens and the 3.5mm jack will be covered by one of the cutouts.
Q: With Waterproof Cases, Can You Take Photos with Them?
As the waterproof cases are a different design entirely, this question is specifically addressed to them. For most, the front and back are clear so you can still take photos and shoot videos with them on. Depending on the model, some actually will take and shoot fantastic photos and videos. But, the true adventure is taking photos and videos while submerged in water. As these are designed for underwater use and protection against it, you can pull it off.
Honestly, this may be the biggest selling point to them. While submerged in water, you can shoot a video of the wildlife that lurks under the surface. Be wary, though, the quality can alter from brand to brand. But, through it all, each one should allow you easy access to your camera lens.
Q: Are Glass Screen Protectors Better Than Plastic Ones?
First off, you should know that even if a case comes with a screen protector you can always install a different one (if the case allows it). But, should it be a glass version or a plastic one. There are some advantages to plastic variants, but glass screen protectors are better. One of the main reasons why is the toughness that tempered glass provides. At typically the same price, they are much sturdier and are less prone to scratches. Even though they are designed to protect your smartphone screen from scratches, it is nice if the protector itself does not get scratched.
Also, modern-age smartphones are adapting their design and adding more glass. For these types of phones, there is a noticeable difference when you install a plastic screen protector. In terms of how smoothly your finger glides, it may feel very rough. With a tempered glass protector, it will mirror the image of the smartphone itself and offer a smooth gliding motion. Finally, glass protectors are generally easier to install. As opposed to plastic variants, they use some sort of adhesive (whether bezel or full) for easy installation.
Q: How Do You Clean the Sticky Side of a Screen Protector?
Speaking of screen protectors, here is a question that often gets tossed around in the world. There may come a time where you deem necessary to clean your screen protector. In specific, the sticky side that is prone to all kinds of dirt and smudges. Thankfully, this is a very easy process and does not require too much physical labor. To start, gently peel off your screen protector from your phone or case.
From there, go ahead and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. But, do not do so with any harsh chemicals like bleach. When handling the screen protector, you want your hands as clean as possible. As a matter of fact, if you want, you can do this before you pull off the adhesive. Next, you will want to run the screen protector under water to rinse off the sticky side. Then, it is time to wash the screen protector with soapy water. In the meanwhile, be gentle with it and do so until all the dirt and smudges have subsided. Finally, rinse off the protector once more and set it in front of a dust-free fan and room to dry.
Q: Do Waterproof Cases, With Your Phone, Float While in the Water?
Obviously, the biggest benefit to waterproof cases is their waterproof nature. But, this begs an all too important question, will your phone and the waterproof case float? The process of how objects float can be a little tricky to wrap your head around. They need to have positive buoyancy (being less dense than the fluid in which it is sitting). You probably already know the answer to, “do cell phones float”. If you have ever dropped yours in a pool, you know they do not have positive buoyancy and do not float.
With waterproof cases, you can actually get them to float, however. If you place a few pieces of toilet paper inside of the case, without obstructing the view of your screen, it can create a density that is less than the water. But, this will not always be the case. There are a lot of factors that go into play, but you can test it out at your home. Be wary, though, that water density can alter based on the temperature. This means that just because it floats in your bathtub, it may not in the ocean. So, test different water temperatures to see if it indeed floats.
For some people, their smartphones are like their children. Would you not do everything in your power to ensure your children are the safest they can be? People who treat their phones like a piece of royalty should be able to relate to this. In addition, specifically iPhones, they can be as expensive as high-definition televisions. With all the trouble that can await in the outside world, it seems like common sense to invest in a case.