Mous case on iPhone SE 2020Source: MOUS

Best iPhone SE (2020) Rugged Cases iMore 2020

There is no magic case that can guarantee that your iPhone SE won't sustain damage if it falls. You can, however, mitigate potential damage by keeping a good quality, heavy-duty, rugged case on your iPhone at all times. I prefer to use a lighter, slimmer case, but if and when I use up my AppleCare+ incidents, you can bet I'll be slapping on a rugged case and keeping it on for the duration of my iPhone's life. I'm a big fan of the OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series case. Not only it is a protective case, but the built-in PopSocket on the back provides extra grip to prevent falls in the first place.

Best Overall: OtterBox iPhone SE Otter + Pop Symmetry Series

OtterBox Otter + Pop iPhone caseSource: Karen Freeman/iMore

Trusted case maker OtterBox and popular grip maker PopSocket collaborated to create the Otter + Pop case. This particular one is a Symmetry Series case, which is one of OtterBox's slimmer but still heavy-duty cases. Usually PopSockets are stuck on the back of a case or phone with adhesive, but the Otter + Pop case has the PopSocket built right on.

In case you're unaware, PopSockets help you to get a firm, balanced grip on your phone, can be used as a kickstand for watching videos, and fold flat when not in use. If you don't like the PopSocket it comes with, it can be twisted off and replaced with any others you purchase, so you can change up the look of your case. The case is compatible with PopSockets PopTops, Car Vent Mount, and PopSockets Multi-Surface Mount (all sold separately). Wireless charging works sometimes, though you'll probably have better luck if you remove the PopSocket. This is a two-layer case; the outer cover is soft and absorbs impact. The inner layer is a hard shell designed to deflect shock. The case comes in a handful of colors, and the selection of PopSocket designs is huge.

Pros:

  • Trusted OtterBox protection without excess bulk
  • Built-in PopSocket grip
  • Lots of PopSockets and other accessories available

Cons:

  • Wireless charging is iffy
  • Expensive

Best Overall

OtterBox iPhone SE Otter + Pop Symmetry Series

Protective grip

OtterBox and PopSocket had a baby, and this is it! You'll get a rugged, protective case with a handy PopSocket for extra grip.

Best Value: Spigen Tough Armor

Spigen Tough Armor iPhone SE 2020 in Red Source: Spigen

Spigen offers good quality cases at reasonable prices, and this case is no exception. The polycarbonate and TPU Tough Armor case is tough yet relatively slim, adding just a tenth of an inch in thickness to your iPhone SE. The screen and camera cutouts have pronounced edges around them, so no matter which way you set down your iPhone, glass never touches the surface. There's also a built-in kickstand so you can watch videos comfortably on your iPhone. Certified miltary standard (MIL-STD 810G-516.6) protection and Air Cushion Technology means you're less likely to sustain damage if you drop your phone. You can even charge wirelessly with this case on. An earlier version of this case got my son through high school with his iPhone intact. Choose from Black, Gunmetal, or Red.

Pros:

  • Military-grade protection
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Wireless charging compatible
  • Well-priced

Cons:

  • Not a lot of color choices
  • Design is a bit blocky

Best Value

Spigen Tough Armor

iPhone armor

Protect your iPhone with some military-grade standards without breaking the bank thanks to Spigen.

Best Eco-Friendly Case: LifeProof WĀKE

Lifeproof Wake iPhone 11 Pro CaseSource: LifeProof

This protective case from LifeProof has a wavy, ocean-inspired design and is eco-friendly. It's made out of salvaged fishing gear and over 85% ocean-based recycled plastic. With every purchase, LifeProof donates a dollar to one of their water-conscious nonprofit partners. Though LifeProof's LifeCycle program, you can mail back your used WĀKE case and LifeProof will recycle it into raw materials and create something new.

It's also just a good case. Since this case has a drop-proof rating up to 2 meters (about six feet), you're sure to have that peace of mind. My daughter's fiancé only purchases LifeProof cases, ever since his iPhone survived a two-story fall in one. Despite this protection, it still maintains a slim form factor and wireless charging compatibility. Choose from three colors: Black, Down Under (green/orange), and Neptune (blue/green.)

Pros:

  • Solid drop protection
  • Made from over 85% ocean-based recycled plastic
  • Wireless charging compatible
  • One dollar from each purchase goes to enviromental non-profit
  • Recyclable (through LifeProof)

Cons:

  • Only three color choices
  • Expensive

Best Eco-Friendly Case

LifeProof WĀKE

Clean up the ocean

This protective case from LifeProof is 85% ocean-based recycled plastic. You can also send it back when you're done with it.

Coolest Case: MOUS Limitless 2.0 Protective Case

MOUS Limitless 2.0 Protective Case for iPhone SESource: MOUS

This is my son's current favorite case; he insisted I include it on this list. Like all heavy-duty cases, this one has a raised lip around the edge of the screen for face-down protection. MOUS takes it a step further: the corners are raised even higher for extra protection that doesn't get in the way when you're using the phone.

Though the case maintains a slim profile, the impact-absorbing AiroShock technology provides serious drop protection. A screen protector is included with purchase. Connect the case seamlessly to MOUS accessories such as car mounts and a card wallet the built-in magnetic technology. Wireless charging works with the case on. All MOUS products come with a lifetime warranty. Choose from a number of different real materials on the back: Aramid Fibre, Bamboo, Black Leather, Shell, and Walnut.

Pros:

  • Impact-absorbing technology
  • Raised corners for extra face-down protection
  • Screen protector included
  • Wireless charging compatible
  • Magnetic technology built in

Cons:

  • Expensive

Coolest

MOUS Limitless 2.0 Protective Case

Best-looking case

This ultra-cool and ultra-protective case is made with real materials such as wood, bamboo, leather, or shell.

Best Translucent Case: UAG Plasma Series

UAG Plasma Series Rugged Translucent iPhone caseSource: Karen Freeman/iMore

Urban Armor Gear, or UAG, is known for rugged adventure-ready cases. The Plasma series cases are translucent, so you can see your gorgeous iPhone right through it. The honeycomb-textured case has an armor shell and an impact-resistant soft core. Scratch resistant skid pads and screen surround keep the case looking sharp. Wireless charging works just fine right through the feather-light case. The impact-resistant corners give extra protection to vulnerable corners. The Plasma Series case meets military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6) and it's my husband's favorite case.

Pros:

  • Meets military drop-test standards
  • Lightweight but protective
  • Wireless charging compatible
  • Translucent
  • Impact-resistant corners

Cons:

  • Industrial look
  • Doesn't come with screen protector

Best Translucent Case

UAG Plasma Series

Adventure-ready

Take this lightweight but tough translucent case from UAG and put it on your iPhone for your next great adventure.

Best Grip: Speck Presidio Grip

Speck Presidio Grip iPhone caseSource: Christine Chan/iMore

Speck's Presidio Grip is a hard plastic case with raised rubber ridges for a no-slip grip. The dual-layer case offers 10-foot drop protection, yet the case is still pretty slim. You don't need to remove the case when charging wirelessly because the case is Qi charging compatible. The raised bezel protects your iPhone's screen. The scratch-resistant case comes in a number of fun colorways. All Speck cases carry a lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Raised rubber ridges add grippiness
  • Dual-layer protective but slim case
  • 10-foot drop protection
  • Wireless charging compatible
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive

Best Grip

Speck Presidio Grip

Hold on

The best drop protection is not dropping at all, and this case's rubber ridges offer extra grip.

Bottom line

Note that the iPhone SE is the same size and shape as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7, so cases are interchangeable between models. When looking for a rugged case, be sure to look for raised edges around the iPhone screen and camera. You also want a case that's thick and solid enough to withstand drops. Many of the great rugged cases have air pockets, double layers, and other advanced technology to disperse shocks in case of falls. Also look for reinforced corners, because corner drops are often the most damaging. Avoid smooth, slippery cases; good grip is important to prevent falls in the first place. I'd also recommend adding a screen protector, since the screen is usually the first thing to break in a fall.

I'm more a of thin-case gal, but if I need a rugged, heavy-duty case, I'm grabbing one of these. The OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series is a personal favorite because I love the built-in PopSocket for a more secure grip and for watching videos.

Credits — The person that worked on this guide

Karen S. Freeman is a teacher, writer, and family woman. She loves to travel, play with tech stuff, drink coffee, discover amazing new restaurants, and experience new things.

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