One of the first reactions many people had to the iPhone 8’s glass sandwich design was to grimace at the thought of dropping it but, weirdly, it’s surprisingly hard to drop compared to its predecessors.
Although glass backs aren’t a completely new iPhone design choice (the iPhone 4 had a glass back years ago) the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are the first iPhones in awhile to sport a glass back—the “jet black” iPhone 7 models weren’t glass but super polished aluminum.
One of the surprising benefits of the glossy glass back is that, despite how concerned you might be about dropping it, the glass surface is so much easier to grip than the matte aluminum body design of the iPhone 5, 6, and 7 product lines. The iPhone 6 and 7, especially, were particularly slippery and felt almost like they were coated in graphite dust as your hand slid so smoothly over the matte finish.
The glass body of the iPhone 8 looks like it would be unbearably slippery, but it sticks to your hand like it’s coated in glue.
The iPhone 8, on the other hand, sticks so well that you can hold the phone with an open hand at a nearly 90 degree angle and it doesn’t slide off. Think that’s hyperbole? The photo above is all 5 ounces and change of my baby-tablet-sized iPhone 8 Plus hanging at a precarious angle just by the friction between my hand and the glass back.
If that view isn’t revealing enough for you, here’s another photo of me “holding” the phone with a perfectly flat palm against the back at a steep angle:
What’s interesting is that even when you tilt your hand to a complete 90 degree angle such that the phone should fall straight down, it doesn’t fall straight down.
The grip between the pads of your fingers and/or palm is so strong that, instead, it slowly slides down like tar running down your hand. Unless you tilt your hand more than 90 degrees to force the phone to tilt right off your palm, the phone just doesn’t go anywhere in a hurry.
I’m not the only one that noticed the Spider-Man-quality the glass back imparts, either, here’s the photo that kicked off our office conversation about the matter—Lowell holding his phone at a sharp angle too:
In fact it’s so easy to grip the phone, our only real motivations for getting a case are a combination of habit (driven by a nagging suspicion that as soon as we get just the slightest bit cocky we’ll drop our beautiful new phone on glass-busting ceramic tile floor) and to protect it from our kids.
With that in mind, despite how impressed we are by how grippy the iPhone is, we’d encourage anybody worried about their phone suffering death-by-tiles (or death-by-kids) to resist the urge to use their phone naked and consider one the following three cases.
The Official Apple Leather Case ($44)
It’s not cheap, but several of us swear by it. It fits perfect—like you’d expect—and comes lined with a soft microfiber interior to keep your phone’s glass back unmarred. The biggest benefit? It has metal hardware buttons that feel like you’re pressing a real button.
The leather has a nice hand feel and grip, and it takes on a nice character and patina with age—the saddle brown color combined with a lighter colored iPhone is a really classic look that echos the silver body and saddle straps of mid-20th century cameras. The case is available in a wide range of colors for both the iPhone 8 ($44) and the iPhone 8 Plus ($48).
Speck Presidio Grip Case ($19)
We’re big fans of the Presidio case (and, in fact, my iPhone 8 Plus is in this case right now). It’s low-key, durable, covered in grippy rubber strips, and sports a raised bezel so if your phone dives face first onto the floor (or you just want to set it face down on a table without scratches) the screen is elevated away from the surface.
The link we’ve provided below points to the iPhone 7 case, instead of the iPhone 8 case, and there’s a good reason why. We talked about how iPhone cases can differ in price (even though they’re interchangeable on many models) so it always pays to see if the “old” compatible case is cheaper. You can pick up a range of colors for the both the iPhone 8 (starting at $19) and the iPhone 8 Plus (starting at $12).
Spigen Liquid Air Armor ($10)
Ten bucks, out the door, and you’ve got a form fitting case from Spigen that cushions your phone and wraps the back in a nice grip-friendly geometric hash pattern.
It doesn’t come in a dozen colors but it’s cheap, durable, and a perfect pick for those of you that want to go part-time naked/part-time cased with your iPhone.