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The best phone cases in 2021: protect your camera phone in style

The best phone cases for 2020: protect your camera phone in style
(Image credit: Moment)

Picking up the best phone case you can afford is always a good move. A lot of the latest flagship smartphones are made from glass build materials now, and there are hundreds of harrowing horror stories out there – so if you want to avoid a deluxe drop disaster, you'll need to protect your device with the right phone case or cover.  

Fortunately, if you’re the proud new owner of one of today’s best camera phones, there are a lot of options for keeping it safe, from ultra-slim phone cases that show off your device’s design through to rugged, bulky shells that can survive almost anything. And if you pick the right one, it might even improve your phone’s camera. 

The best phone cases in 2021

Shattered glass screens are one of the most common accidents to befall a smartphone. It's most likely to happen if you drop your device and it lands on a corner, where the force exerted on the glass is more concentrated. At the very least, you need a phone case that uses a shock-absorbent material such as silicone or rubber, and protects the corners. If you’re feeling confident, a slim, unobtrusive phone case from a brand like Peel might be all you need. 

However, a more costly calamity for a camera phone is a cracked lens – and the best way to avoid this is to buy a tougher phone case. To that end, we think the best protective phone case is the Defender series from OtterBox, which has a durable, layered design for better defence against drops and dings.

Ultimately, the best phone case for you depends on what you want from your smartphone (do you want it to be more stylish or safe?) and how actively you use it. All the options here are optimised for camera phones in particular, so whatever level of protection you’re after, you’ll find something that won't hinder your ability to take great photographs quickly. Read on for our pick of the best phone cases right now… 

1. Moment Photo Case

The best phone case for mobile photographers and filmmakers

Color: Black/Walnut Wood/Tan Leather | Compatible with: Most Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Pixel and OnePlus models

Lens-ready and low cost
Slim and durable
Lenses aren’t cheap (obvs)

The Moment Photo Case is designed to turn the world's top camera phones – the newest Pixel, iPhone, OnePlus and Samsung Galaxy devices – into more sophisticated snappers. Aside from protecting them from drops and scrapes with a thin, shock-absorbing rubberized body, the Moment Pixel Photo Case comes with a built-in lens interface for attaching Moment's range of add-on smartphone lenses, plus a strap attachment to stop you dropping your camera phone again. Meanwhile, wireless charging support means you can place it on any Qi-compatible charging pad. 

If you’ve got an iPhone SE 2, 8 Plus, 8, 7 Plus or 7, we’d choose Moment’s excellent MFi-approved Battery Photo Case for iPhone. It comes with a 3,100mAh built-in battery for charging your iPhone on the go, giving you longer shooting time, and an integrated Lightening port, as well as a two-stage shutter button for taking photos: pressing down halfway focuses the lens; a full press takes the picture. Whichever camera phone you have though, if you're into mobile photography or filmmaking, these are some of the best phone cases you can buy. 

2. Spigen Neo Hybrid

One of the best phone cases for everyday use you can get

Color: Shiny Black, Gunmetal, Burgundy, Artic Silver, Pale Dogwood, Lilac Purple | Compatible with: Most major Apple, Samsung and Android smartphones

Slim grip design
Handles well 
Could be tougher

Spigen is one of the biggest names in smartphone protection, and it’s easy to see why its Neo Hybrid line is one of the company’s most popular set of phone cases. With enhanced shock absorption, slim grip design and a dual-layered structure for extra protection, the Neo Hyrid won’t add as much bulk to your camera phone as some other cases, but you’ll get plenty of protection for day-to-day use. The Herringbone-textured rubber is smooth but grippy, so your device won't slip out of your hand while you're taking photos, and it comes in a range of different colours: gunmetal, burgundy, jet black, pale dogwood and satin silver. Bear in mind that it isn't as tough as the most protective ranges on the market, so if you're prone to drops or other phone-related accidents then a phone case like the Otterbox Defender (number three in this list) might be a better choice. But if you're looking for a brilliant balance of style, functionality and usability, the Spigen Neo Hybrid is one of the best phone cases you can buy.

3. OtterBox Defender Screenless edition

The best drop protection you can get in a phone case

Color: Stormy Peaks, Black, Big Sur Blue | Compatible with: Most major Apple, Samsung and Android smartphones

Very protective
Good grip 
Very bulky

When it comes to protective phone cases, the Otterbox Defender is about as comprehensive as it gets. The multi-layer design gives you dust, drop and scratch protection, while a reinforced polycarbonate inner and a thick silicone outer that absorbs impact. Port covers prevent dirt and dirt from clogging jacks and ports; and the rubber back provides a good camera cut out that also protects protruding lenses when you place your camera phone on a flat surface. The Otterbox Defender series will add a fair bit of bulk to your phone – this isn’t a good option if you like to keep your phone in your pocket or want to show off its form – and it isn’t waterproof, either. But when it comes to ultimate drop protection, it’s a winner.

4. OtterBox Symmetry

A bulkier than average slim-line phone case with better than average protection

Color: Tonic Violet, Black, Aspen Gleam, Fine Port, You Ashed 4 It, On Fleck, Gradient Energy | Compatible with: Most major Apple, Samsung and Android smartphones

Slim and durable
Great protection
Larger than a slim-line case

OtterBox is best-known for its robust protection and tank-sized cases. The company's OtterBox Symmetry series, however, is a lighter-duty line, offering a thinner one-piece design that doesn't loose too much on the protection front. Build quality is excellent, marrying a synthetic rubber interior with a durable polycarbonate outer shell, and it's easy to take on and off. As with the Spiegen Neo Hybrid, there are no advanced features like waterproof capabilities, built-in batteries or fold out kickstands – and it will still add a little bulk to your camera phone. But if you’re looking for a pocket-friendly phone case with better-than-average protection for the size and weight, the Symmetry series is definitely worth considering. 

(Image credit: Woolnut)

6. Woolnut - Cognac Brown

A luxurious leather case for iPhones

Color: Cognac Brown, Racing Green, Black | Compatible with: iPhone only

Made from premium leather
No screen protection 

Designed with premium Scandinavian full-grain leather, this beautifully manufactured phone case is perfect for discerning iPhone users who like to live in the lap of luxury. The slim profile of the case means that you don't have to worry about bulking out your iPhone's build, while the inside of the case is made of a soft microfiber lining that gently cossets your phone. 

While this case won't be quite as robust as some of the others on this list, its stylish design is perfect for everyday professional use. 

(Image credit: Shieldon)

7. Shieldon iPhone Case

You can store your cards in this handy phone case wallet

Color: Black, Brown, Dark Blue, Red, Coffee Brown, Dark Purple, Wine Red | Compatible with: iPhone only

Hands-free stand
Space for three bank cards
Magnetic closure
Only for iPhones

If you like to conserve as much space as possible, lugging around both a phone and a wallet can often be frustrating. However, why not invest in a phone case that also doubles up as a wallet? The Shieldon phone case has three slots for bank cards and an inside bill compartment to store notes and receipts. Meanwhile, there's an invisible kickstand that can be used for a hands-free phone display.

The Shieldon phone case has a hidden magnetic closure that's designed to help keep your valuables safe, while RFID Shielding Technology has been employed to help shield your cards from unauthorized scanning. 

(Image credit: Caseology)

8. Caseology Legion case

Color: Black, Gold, Blue, Red, Coffee Brown, Green | Compatible with: Most major Apple, Samsung and Google smartphones

Multi-layer protection
Good value
Can hide phone's branding

This lightweight case from Caseology will snugly guard your handset - while improving your grip. The Legion's slim profile has durable double layers, and encasing your devices with certified military grade protection so you can rest assured smartphone will be safe. The Google Pixel and Apple iPhone ranges are catered for – as are some Samsung Galaxys. The flexible thermoplastic polyurethane provides good shock absorption, while a rigid outer shell of polycarbonate and carbon fiber corners guards your phone against knocks.

(Image credit: Joby)

9. Joby StandPoint

A protective phone case with built-in tripod legs

Color: Black | Compatible with: iPhone 12 Pro/12 Pro Max, 11/11 Pro/X/Xs, Google Pixel 4/4XL

Great for low-light and long exposures
Useful for watching videos
Limited phone models
Requires flat surface

This case has got legs. Literally. The obvious use-case for having three pop-out, but flat-profile aluminum tripod legs is photography. While most smartphone photographers don’t use any support, all photos benefit from a camera being completely still. In low-light, or if you want to try a night-time shot – perhaps of star fields of the Milky Way – a tripod is imperative, and this one’s strong rubber-tipped legs keep it steady. However, as well as photography the StandPoint is perfect for perching your phone on a surface – a train or airline tray-table being the obvious candidates – for hands-free video as well as video calls and photo reviewing. We like the case’s protective nature, and the fact that it works with wireless charging pads. The only drawbacks are that the StandPoint’s tiny tripod legs do require a flat surface, and don’t allow many angles. 

(Image credit: Ted Baker)

10. Ted Baker anti-shock case

One of the best fashion phone cases for everyday use

Color: Jasmine print, Elderflower | Compatible with: iPhone 12/12 Pro/12 Pro Max/12 Mini, 11/11 Pro/X/Xs/XR, SE (2020)

Slim grip design
Handles well 
MagSafe and Qi wireless charging compatible on iPhone 12
Could be tougher

This clear shell case from fashion label Ted Baker has been adorned with a stunning floral design (choose Jasmine or Elderflower) and it's slightly see-through so your iPhone shows through in a really appealing way. But, it's not all about style: An AirWall-lined TPU bumper edge adds protection while allowing access to all ports and controls. It's really comfortable despite being a little chunkier than some of its rivals.

(Image credit: Moshi)

11. Moshi Altra Wrist Strap case

The best slim case with a wrist strap

Color: Midnight Blue and Sahara Beige | Compatible with: iPhone 12/12 Pro/12 Pro Max/12 Mini, 11/11 Pro/XR Max/XR

Good grip
Great protection
Larger than a slim-line case

This Altra case features a quick-release detachable wrist strap and optional crossbody strap which is ideal if you're a person who likes to have your hands free but your phone ready to use. The case's textured grip makes holding the phone in one hand or taking photos safe and convenient, and it also has responsive metal buttons that provides easy access to your device's key controls. The Altra case features Moshi's proprietary NanoShield anti-microbial coating which is said to kill germs and bacteria upon contact. And it supports Moshi's handy SnapTo magnetic mounting system for SnapTo Car Mount, and is compatible with wireless charging. 

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