Cheapism: Best budget iPhone cases
April 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM ET
The SwitchEasy Tones case comes in seven colors.
By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com
Soon it will be cheaper than ever to get your hands on a new iPhone 5. Beginning April 12, T-Mobile will offer the coveted Apple handset contract-free for $100, although customers will be on the hook for $20 a month until they’ve paid a total of $580. Even at a subsidized price of $199 with a two-year plan from another carrier, if you’re not careful, you’ll be looking at quite a bit of money down the toilet — or shattered on the sidewalk, as the case may be. A study last year by SquareTrade estimated that repair and replacement had cost U.S. iPhone owners nearly $6 billion since Steve Jobs unveiled the original in 2007. Even if that’s overstating it a little (the company sells iPhone warranties, after all), you’ve no doubt seen what a drop from a lap or table will do to a phone. A protective case can cost less than $25 but have the potential to save hundreds. Here are Cheapism’s top picks.
- The SwitchEasy Tones (starting at $17) stood out in an expert comparison of iPhone 5 cases for delivering excellent protection without bulking up the phone’s svelte design. The key is a combination of materials. Rubbery TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane, covers the top, bottom, and vulnerable corners of the phone. Scratch-resistant polycarbonate gives the back a sleeker look and feel and lets the phone slide easily into a pocket. The package comprises not just the case but a full set of armor, including screen guards and protectors for the headphone and power jacks. The case comes in seven colors. (Where to buy)
- The Speck CandyShell Flip (starting at $20) was designed with docking in mind. Many cases impede the port on the bottom of the phone and must be removed completely, but this one has a panel that flips open at the back. Again, reviewers point to the use of multiple materials: a hard plastic shell and a shock-absorbent lining. This is a top pick for the iPhone 4 and 4S, as well as the iPhone 5. Buyers can choose from six color combinations for the iPhone 4/4S and 10 for the current model. (Where to buy)
- The Griffin Protector (starting at $15) is a simple, cheap silicone case that wraps around the back and edges of the iPhone 5. Reviewers say the rubbery material provides a good grip and effectively cushions the phone if it happens to tumble. Overall this case is less bulky but just as protective as many pricier options. It’s available in seven colors. (Where to buy)
- The TuneBand from Grantwood Technology (starting at $23) marries a silicone skin with an elastic strap that fastens around the upper arm, so you can listen to music on your phone while you work out. Reviewers appreciate that this armband not only secures the handset but also shields it from sweat. The iPhone 5 case comes in four colors and the iPhone 4/4S version is available in six hues, including glow-in-the-dark, an intriguing option for owners who go running before dawn or after dark. (Where to buy)
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