The Best iPhone SE (2nd Gen) Cases, iPhone 7 Cases, and iPhone 8 Cases
Even if you’re not splurging on the most cutting-edge iPhone model, we still think your phone should be in a case. Whether you own an iPhone SE (2nd generation) or an older iPhone 7 or 8, a case can extend your phone’s life by preventing scratches, dents, and dings, and some cases can even prevent a bent phone or a broken screen. Adding a case also personalizes your iPhone, and some models add useful features such as card holders, waterproof protection, or even extra power.
We can’t tell you what the best case is for every single person, as the choice depends on what you’re looking for. But based on our tests of more than 60 different cases since 2016, when the iPhone 7 was introduced, and my professional experience reviewing cases since 2011, we’re confident you can find something that will fit your needs among our picks. We have options for basic cases, leather cases, superthin cases, wallet cases, extra-protective cases, battery cases, and cases that work well with accessories, so read on.
Best basic case: Smartish Gripmunk
Best basic case for iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7
Slim, protective, and affordable, this is a great case for most people.$15* from Amazon$15 from Walmart
*At the time of publishing, the price was $12.
Best basic case for iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus
This is the same case, but for Plus-size iPhones.$12 from Amazon$12 from Walmart
Why it’s great: We know from years of feedback from readers, Wirecutter staff, and even family and friends that most people want a case that’s slim, plainly designed, reliably protective, and inexpensive. That’s why Smartish’s Gripmunk is an excellent choice for most people who own an iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7, or an iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus: It’s a simple case that checks all the boxes at a reasonable price.
The Gripmunk is a one-piece TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane, a flexible plastic) case. It has just enough give to make it easy to install, yet it isn’t so loose that the sides pull away—something that can be a problem with inferior cases. The back panel is slightly rough, with a pebbled finish on the edges for a good grip; it’s just the right amount of texture, offering extra security while you’re holding the phone without making the case feel weird or unpleasant.
The case also gets the smaller details right. Along the bottom edge, openings for the speaker, microphone, and Lightning-connector port provide access without leaving too much of the iPhone’s body exposed. The case covers the volume and the Sleep/Wake buttons while maintaining a clicky feel. A tapered, black ring protects the camera(s) and flash, and the lip around the phone’s screen is deep enough to keep the screen from touching flat surfaces (a film screen protector is included too), without being so tall as to hinder the use of the touchscreen. Smartish claims that air pockets in the corners help absorb shock.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: You won’t confuse the Gripmunk with a premium case—it doesn’t look or feel particularly cheap, but it’s also not going to draw attention for its looks. We also don’t love the seam between the back panel and the edge of the case, but that’s just a minor aesthetic bother.
Best leather case: Apple Leather Case
The best leather case for the iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7
It isn’t better than our other picks in functionality, but it is a favorite among Wirecutter staffers because of its pleasing texture and styling. The new aluminum buttons feel great.$45 from Amazon$45 from Apple
The best leather case for the iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus
This is the same case, but for the Plus-size iPhones.$30* from Amazon$50 from Apple
*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.
Why it’s great: If you prefer the look and feel of leather over plastic or silicone, Apple’s iPhone SE Leather Case is the best option. It isn’t as protective as our overall favorite, but we like it anyway. It offers enough coverage to guard against the majority of scuffs and minor drops, and while it’s thin and light, it still has an adequate lip protecting the screen. The Leather Case is available in a handful of rotating, classy color options, and though the lighter colors may show dirt and wear sooner than you might like, one person’s “dirt” is another’s patina, the coveted accumulation of wear that makes a case unique. Most important, though, Apple’s Leather Case just looks and feels great. It’s like the difference between a hiking boot and a leather dress boot—sure, the hiking boot is more protective and comfortable, but if you’re not hiking, forgoing a bit of protection and comfort for style and luxury is sometimes worth it.
Instead of button protectors molded into the leather, the Leather Case has machined aluminum buttons that feel great. There’s no mushiness when you press a button, but rather a crisp (and loud) click. We also love that the case is especially thin and light for a leather model: The smaller version weighs only 17 grams, while the version for the Plus-size iPhones weighs 23 grams—as light as any other truly protective case we’ve tested.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Apple’s Leather Case leaves the bottom edge of your phone exposed, which means that if you drop your phone the wrong way, you could damage the front edge (just below the Home button) or the area around the Lightning-connector port. We wish Apple would add more protection there, but after several generations of this case with a similar design, it doesn’t look like that’ll happen anytime soon. Leather also doesn’t wear as well over time (in terms of durability) as plastic, so if you’re expecting a case to look the same in a year as it did on the first day, no leather case will be the right pick for you.
The thinnest iPhone case we recommend: Caudabe The Sheath
The best thin case for the iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7
This is a nice-fitting, super-thin case for protecting against scratches, but it doesn’t offer much shock protection.$20 from Caudabe
The best thin case for the iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus
This is the same case, but for the Plus-sized iPhones.$20 from Caudabe
Why it’s great: When it comes to cases, some people value thinness above all else: They want something that makes it feel as if they’re not using a case but still provides some degree of protection. Unfortunately, even the best superthin cases we’ve tested don’t protect a phone against anything but scratches, and many of them simply don’t last—a short fall often breaks the case itself. Caudabe’s The Sheath for iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7 and for iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus represents the best compromise we’ve yet seen, providing good coverage while remaining impressively thin. The material is less than a millimeter thick, yet the case still offers a proper 1 mm lip around the phone’s screen. We also like how tightly tailored the camera, microphone, and flash openings are.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Though The Sheath is thin, it doesn’t compete for the title of “World’s Thinnest iPhone Case.” If you’re looking for something that truly just wraps around the phone to prevent scratches, consider Caudabe’s The Veil, which we discuss in the Competition section below. At the other extreme, The Sheath doesn’t provide as much shock protection as thicker cases—in this category, less protection comes with the territory.
Best wallet phone case: Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1
A wallet case for the iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7
If you’re looking to ditch your wallet, this case holds a few cards—and can even keep a single card secure—without sacrificing a nice design.$19* from Amazon$20 from Walmart
*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.
A wallet case for the iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus
This is the same case, but for Plus-size iPhones.Buy from Amazon$15 from Walmart
May be out of stock
*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.
Why it’s great: For those who want a case that can hold credit and ID cards as well as their iPhone, Smartish’s Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 is the best choice. The TPU case has an integrated three-card wallet that, together with Apple Pay, may be enough to allow some people to ditch a separate wallet altogether.
The Wallet Slayer’s core elements are very similar to those found on the company’s Gripmunk. The buttons and cutouts are all the same, and the case has a strip of textured material along both sides. The main difference is the molded card holder on the back, made to accommodate up to three credit cards and some cash.
Unlike other wallet cases we tested for the iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7, this Smartish case works just as well with one card as it does with three, thanks to a raised bump under the card holder that puts pressure on cards and holds them in place. A small cutout along the edge opposite the wallet opening lets you easily push cards out as needed, but even when we aggressively shook the phone, our cards didn’t fall out on their own. We also appreciate that the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 exposes less of your cards than the competition—all you can see is a thumbnail-sized piece of the top card. The case also comes with a protective screen film.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some other wallet cases are slimmer overall, and—because they have a flexible wallet component—are thinner when you have fewer cards in them. The Wallet Slayer’s rigid wallet means that the case remains the same thickness no matter how many cards it’s holding. That said, the Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 isn’t so large as to be cumbersome.
A more protective option: Speck Presidio Grip
A more protective case for iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus
This is the same case, but for Plus-size iPhones.$19* from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.
Why it’s great: In general, we don’t think you should pay more than about $25 for a plastic or rubbery case. But if you’re willing to spend more for better drop protection, Speck’s Presidio Grip is the way to go. An evolution of Speck’s venerable CandyShell line (which started way back with the iPhone 3G), the Presidio Grip combines a hard plastic exterior with a thin, rubber lining and a specially designed border that helps absorb the shock of drops. The Presidio Grip replaces the CandyShell’s scratch-magnet glossy finish with a matte exterior that will likely look a lot better over time. The “Grip” in the name comes from the raised rubber ridges on the back of the case. They help increase, well, grip, which is important considering that the Presidio’s matte finish is more slippery than the CandyShell’s glossy surfaces.
The Presidio Grip is 20 percent thinner than its CandyShell-line Grip counterpart, but Speck promises that the Presidio can help your phone withstand drops of up to 10 feet. In our tests, the phone’s buttons remained nice and clicky through the case, and the pronounced lip around the screen is reassuring. We also like Speck’s color schemes, which have slightly offset tones between the case itself and its rubber grips.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some early customer reviews of the Presidio Grip say that it feels cheap compared with the CandyShell models. Although it’s certainly different, we disagree that it feels inferior—we appreciate that Speck took a well-loved design and tried to do something different with it. We used to recommend the Presidio Grip for the iPhone SE, 7, and 8, but it’s since been discontinued. If you can find it in stock anywhere, we recommend snagging it.
A clear case to show off your phone: Spigen Liquid Crystal
A clear case for iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7
If you want to show off the design of your phone, this is your case.$13* from Amazon
*At the time of publishing, the price was $10.
A clear case for iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus
This is the same case, but for Plus-size iPhones.$45* from Amazon$20 from Spigen
*At the time of publishing, the price was $10.
Why it’s great: iPhones look nice! It makes sense that you’d want to show off the design, while also protecting it. Spigen’s Liquid Crystal is our favorite see-through case that allows for both. It’s an extremely simple and totally transparent TPU case. That means it has some more grip than a bare phone and offers a bit of shock absorbency (although there aren’t any air pockets in the corners to provide extra impact protection, as there are on the iPhone 11-series versions).
The Liquid Crystal is totally clear across its entire surface, unlike many competing cases that have some sort of colored or frosted border, making them not totally clear. The iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus versions are still transparent, but only available with a glitter coating. It’s lined with a series of dots on the inside that prevents the water-splotch look of many earlier see-through cases, but you may still notice a rainbow-like refraction at certain angles. The buttons still click well through the case.
If you want a case that’s a little more protective and can accept less than total transparency, we also like the “Nothin’ to Hide” version of Smartish’s Gripmunk. It’s a version of our favorite basic case, but with a clear back. The main reason it’s not our top pick in this category is that the textured sides look frosted, taking away from the totally clear effect.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We’ve tested dozens of transparent cases over the past decade, and every single one of them turns yellow over time. Many claim to have an anti-yellowing agent or some other method of preventing discoloration, but we’ve never seen one that doesn’t look at least a little funky after a few months of use. We haven’t had this version of the Liquid Crystal long enough that it’s suffered the same fate, but we expect that it will. The affordable price makes that a lot more bearable.
A good case for workout and activity accessories: Quad Lock
An accessory-friendly case for the iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7
The Quad Lock is a fantastic option if you need to use mounts, tripods, armbands, or clips. It’s an especially smart choice if you rely on your phone when biking or running.$30 from Amazon
An accessory-friendly case for the 8 Plus and 7 Plus
This is the same design for larger phones.$30 from Amazon
Why it’s great: At a glance, the Quad Lock for iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, or 7 and for iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus looks a lot like our Smartish Gripmunk pick. The exterior of the Quad Lock case is made of a similar thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material, though in black only, with an internal layer of polycarbonate and a microfiber lining. The case only slightly dampens the tactility of your phone’s buttons, and the port openings along the bottom edge are well tailored, offering enough room for you to plug in most accessories without leaving unnecessary portions of the phone’s body exposed.
What sets the Quad Lock apart is the 1.23-inch, circular mount point housed in an ever-so-slight bump on the back of the case. Four extended lips form a twist-and-lock design that allows you to connect a slew of accessories; you just put the case on the accessory’s mounting bracket and then twist a quarter of a turn to lock the case in place. The company offers a wide range of mounting and carrying options, including the Car Mount, Sports Armband (our upgrade pick for the best armband), Belt Clip, Bike Mount (a staff favorite), Out Front bike mount, Wall Mount, Universal Adaptor, Home/Office Desk Mount, and Tripod Adaptor. Obviously, the Quad Lock system makes the most sense if you rely heavily on these kinds of accessories—if you’re a bicyclist, for example, you might love being able to mount your phone on your bike quickly and securely without needing other bulky accessories.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: For some people, the biggest downside to the Quad Lock case is that the thickness of the mount point prevents wireless charging from working on some Qi chargers. For example, although several flat Qi chargers we tested worked fine with the Quad Lock case, the case did not allow charging with the one stand-style charger we had on hand. The company does sell its own wireless charger, however, which works with both its car and desk mounts and should resolve the problem.
A slight downside is that the mounting interface adds a bit of a hump to the back of the case, so the case doesn’t sit quite flat when you lay it on its back. But this is a minor issue if the case’s other features appeal to you.
Why you should trust me
I was the accessories editor at iLounge for a little over three years. During my tenure, I reviewed more than 1,000 products, most of which were cases. That number spans multiple generations of Apple devices, including every iPhone since the iPhone 4 and every iPad. I’ve probably handled more iPhone cases than almost anyone on the planet, so I have a particularly experienced perspective and depth of knowledge when it comes to these things.
While making final selections, I also consulted with Jeremy Horwitz, who was editor in chief of iLounge for 11 years and was later a contributor and accessory reviewer for 9to5Mac. Horwitz is likely the only person who has tested more cases than I have, as far back as early iPods, and he knows this stuff inside and out.
How we picked
The truth is, a bad case is actually a pretty rare thing. But in looking for standout cases that would work well for most people, we sought models that could adequately protect a phone without adding unnecessary embellishments or too much bulk. We based this approach in part on a reader survey in which 86 percent of respondents agreed that protection shouldn’t come at the cost of the iPhone’s feel and aesthetic.
Apple’s guidelines for case developers (PDF) espouse a similar philosophy: “A well-designed case will securely house a device while not interfering with the device’s operation.” The guidelines also note requirements such as protection from a drop of 1 meter, which parts of the phone the case can and cannot block, and even the size and shape of the various openings. However, although Apple’s guidelines are generally smart, a manufacturer can follow them perfectly but still produce a case that limits real-world usability, such as by preventing the use of dock cradles (something that about a third of our survey respondents said was important). And Apple’s guidelines assume that you’re using Apple’s cables—many third-party Lightning-to-USB cables have larger plugs.
A respectable degree of shock absorption is important, as is a tight fit. The case should cover as much of the iPhone’s body as possible, but it should also include a raised lip around the edge of the screen: As Apple’s case guidelines explain, “Exposed glass on the device must not come within 0.85 mm of a flat surface, such as a table or floor, in any orientation when the case is attached.” This lip helps prevent cracked screens—one of the biggest worries with any smartphone—but it also helps to keep the display from getting scratched if you place the phone with the screen down. We used a 0.85-millimeter feeler gauge, per Apple’s guidelines, to test each case.
It’s important that a case not hinder normal use of the iPhone—using the phone in the case shouldn’t be any more difficult than using it when it’s case-free. In this respect, cases that cover the iPhone’s volume and Sleep/Wake buttons with protective overlays tend to be better than models with simple cutouts for the buttons: Cutouts leave those buttons unprotected, and you have to reach through the tiny openings to use the buttons. The best cases offer button protection with great tactility, mimicking—or in some instances even enhancing—what you’d feel on a bare iPhone. We also prefer cases that guard the speaker and microphones rather than leaving them unprotected.
We dislike cases with a circular opening to expose the Apple logo on the back of the phone. There’s no need to leave part of your phone unprotected just to show off that logo, and we haven’t seen a case with such an opening that’s better than the good ones without it.
Finally, a case shouldn’t reduce performance with any wireless signals: Wi-Fi, cellular, or NFC (near-field communication, necessary to use Apple Pay).
Incase’s Pop Case for iPhone and for Plus looks nice, but we prefer either a rubber or dual-layer back panel instead of the hard back on this model because those materials offer a bit more shock protection. Caudabe’s The Synthesis for iPhone and for Plus has a very similar design.
Spigen’s Liquid Air Armor for iPhone and for Plus is a good alternate pick for an everyday case. Because it’s a little thinner than the Smartish Gripmunk, it doesn’t feel quite as protective, and instead of having textured sides, there’s a raised pattern on the back. If the Gripmunk goes out of stock, or if you prefer the look of this case, it’s a good option.
Apple’s iPhone SE Silicone Case and iPhone 8/7 Plus Silicone Case are the same size and shape as the iPhone maker’s leather versions, and they’re less expensive, but they’re still pricey compared with the competition. They don’t have the machined metal buttons, and their grippy finish is nice when you’re holding the case but can make the case hard to get into and out of a pants pocket, particularly with tight jeans.
JimmyCase’s Wallet Case for iPhone and for Plus is more expensive and bulkier than our wallet pick. The larger size is especially noticeable on the Plus version. That said, we like the real-wood panel and the elastic, six-card holder, so this case is worth considering if you’re willing to spend a bit more.
The body of Smartish’s Wallet Slayer Vol. 2 for iPhone and for Plus is identical to that of the Wallet Slayer Vol. 1—the only difference is the card holder. On the Vol. 2, it’s made of a leather-like material (Smartish calls it “executive stitched fabric”) that stretches to fit the number of cards you’re carrying (it can handle up to three). The Vol. 2 wallet area leaves more of your credit cards exposed, making it clear to anyone who sees the case that it holds cards (or money). It’s also nearly twice the price of the Vol. 1, yet it doesn’t offer any true benefits other than aesthetics.
Sena’s Lugano Wallet for iPhone and for Plus is an overly costly wallet case, owing in large part to being made with real leather. It holds credit cards in pockets on the back, leaving more of the cards exposed than we like. The Lugano simply costs too much and feels too bulky.
OtterBox’s Commuter Series for iPhone and for Plus leaves the phone’s Apple logo exposed. Other cases without this opening are similar enough that we don’t recommend this design.
OtterBox’s Defender Series for iPhone and for Plus is still the go-to case if you want to keep your phone safe from pretty much anything and everything—and are willing to put up with serious bulk to do so. We don’t think most people need the level of protection this flagship OtterBox case offers, but some people clearly do (or at least think they do), given the case's popularity.
OtterBox’s Symmetry Series for iPhone and for Plus is a direct competitor to Speck’s Presidio line, but the Speck cases are smaller in every dimension and weigh less. We also prefer the screen lip on the Presidio, which isn’t as bulky as the lip on the OtterBox cases.
Smartish’s Silk Armor for iPhone and for Plus is the company’s take on an affordable, durable case. The price is particularly impressive considering that the case comes with two tempered-glass screen protectors. Everything about the case feels solid, but we just don’t dig its aesthetics. If you do, it’s a smart buy.
The Incipio Octane for iPhone and for Plus has a frosted-plastic back plate and a ridged, rubber border. The case is actually pretty nice. However, although Incipio says it can prevent damage from 6-foot drops, we prefer something that combines rubber and plastic along the back for extra protection. The same goes for Incipio’s Reprieve Sport for iPhone, which has a clear piece of plastic along the back and extended corners that may add extra drop protection but don’t look great.
Urban Armor Gear’s Monarch for iPhone Plus has a special place in our hearts for its military-inspired, leather-and-metal design, but the price makes it a luxury case that’s only for people who want that specific look and are willing to pay for it.
The design of Smartish’s PureView for iPhone and for Plus makes it much more difficult to install your phone in comparison with the rest of the transparent cases we tested.
Much like the standard NGP, Incipio’s NGP Pure for iPhone has a lip that’s just tall enough, while the lip on the Plus version is too short to provide proper screen protection. The same goes for Spigen’s Liquid Crystal for iPhone and for Plus.
Mophie’s Juice Pack Air for iPhone is the next-best battery case to Apple’s. The Mophie case has a higher-capacity battery (2,525 mAh compared with 2,365 mAh), but in our testing it provided an almost identical level of charge in just about the same amount of time. Like the Plus version we recommend above, this Juice Pack Air is loaded with features, but it prevents you from using wired headphones while it’s on your phone, a restriction the Apple case doesn’t impose.
We’ve liked LifeProof cases in the past, but the screen cover on the Frē for iPhone 7 sits too far away from the phone’s screen, so you feel and hear it every time you tap.
Caudabe’s The Veil XT for iPhone and for Plus is just about as thin as a case can get—it’s for someone who wants to use a case without having their phone feeling like they’re using a case. Don’t expect significant drop protection, though; this style is mainly for preventing scratches. If that’s all you’re looking for, The Veil is a great option. Other than the texture, you can’t really tell it’s there.
About your guide
Nick Guy is a former senior staff writer covering Apple and accessories at Wirecutter. He has been reviewing iPhones, iPads, and related tech since 2011—and stopped counting after he tested his 1,000th case. It’s impossible for him not to mentally catalog any case he sees. He once had the bright idea to build and burn down a room to test fireproof safes.