The iPhone SE is a great budget iPhone, but that doesn’t mean it’s disposable. We’ve checked out the best cases for your iPhone SE (that also happen to work with the iPhone 5 and 5s) so that it’s safe from scratches and damage, while still looking sharp.
Update, 4/28/20: This post covers cases for the original iPhone SE. If you’re looking for the best cases for the 2020 SE, head here.
After all, it’s so easy to drop your iPhone when out and about, or simply knock it into various surfaces to cause minor damage. No matter how careful you might be, it’ll inevitably happen at some point. A case minimizes the damage that can occur. Here’s our pick of the bunch.
Best Overall Case: Speck CandyShell Grip ($17)
Available in some fairly distinctive colors, what the Speck CandyShell Grip might lack in subtlety, it makes up for in all-around protection for your device. Its exterior is hard and able to withstand damage while the inside has a cushioned inner layer that absorbs shock from any occasional bumps or drops that may happen throughout the day.
Also, there’s a raised bezel that keeps your screen safe and pristine from any scrapes, along with rubberized shields for the buttons too. Textured finger pads not only help you keep a firm grip on your phone but offer an extra little bit of shock absorption and protection too. The CandyShell Grip is an all around great case line, and among the staff, we’ve easily purchased a dozen of them for different iPhones over the years.
Best Budget Case: JETech Case ($6)
A good case doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get the job done. This JETech Case is a slimline case that’s transparent, so it doesn’t get in the way of the original design of your iPhone. It has a scratch-resistant back, as well as UV resistance. What does UV resistance matter? Cheap clear cases are prone to severe yellowing so that extra bit of UV protection will keep your case crystal-clear longer.
A raised bezel protects the screen and camera, while the design of its four corners means it can absorb simple shocks too. There’s always easy access to ports as well as buttons too, so this is a case you can pop on and forget about.
Best Water-Resistant Case: LifeProof Fre ($42)
In need of a waterproof case? You can’t go wrong with the LifeProof Fre, a smart looking iPhone SE case that also happens to be very water-resistant.
It can be safely submerged up to 2m for an hour without water ingress. Also, it’s sealed from snow, ice, dirt, and dust particles, meeting or exceeding IP-68 Ingress Protection requirements. It’s also shockproof up to a 2m fall and exceeds relevant military standards there too.
For day to day use, you still get full access to all buttons and ports, and it looks good too. If gray isn’t your color, there’s a choice of a high-visibility teal case—perfect to pair with a lanyard float to keep your phone off the lake bottom and very visible so you can retrieve it.
Best Rugged Case: OtterBox Defender ($20)
For rugged protection, the OtterBox Defender is a great choice. It protects your device with three layers of protection so whether you’re defending against scratches or bumps you’re in good care. Because of that, it offers drop protection, dust protection, and screen protection. People love the Defender line because of how rugged the case is—you can even find an abundance of videos on YouTube with fans of the case running Defender-clad phones over with cars and trucks to show how durable it is. We certainly don’t recommend that, but you certainly wouldn’t walk away with a functional phone if you did it with a $5 jelly case from a mall kiosk.
On top of a sturdy shell, the case offers port covers for when you need to be extra secure about keeping dust and debris away from your device, but they’re not too intrusive. There’s also a belt clip holster that doubles as a kickstand for when you want to catch up on YouTube viewing.
Best Slim Case: Spigen Thin Fit ($10)
A slimline case is ideal if you know you need a case, but you also don’t want to miss out on having a sleek and stylish phone. The Spigen Thin Fit protects your iPhone while still being slim enough to slip into your pocket easily.
It has a hard polycarbonate casing that protects the iPhone SE from scratches, along with cutouts for your buttons and port openings, so everything you need is easily accessible. There’s a small raised lip for the screen and camera too, so it’s protected while on a flat surface. It’s a snap-on case, too, which is useful if you’re prone to clumsy moments when applying cases to your iPhone. Plus, it looks great.
Best Leather Case: Kalibri iPhone SE Case ($18)
A leather case for your phone always looks good. These days, it’s hard to find a new Apple-branded iPhone SE leather case—they’re discontinued, but you can still find them on eBay if you search—but a much more convenient option is the Kalibri iPhone SE Case. It’s made from real premium leather, so it looks classy compared to any plastic solutions. While its interior is made of sturdy plastic for added stability, you’ll never need to look at it once it’s clipped on.
The case is reasonably durable and able to withstand shocks, falls, drops, and scratches. It remains slim in appearance though with cutouts allowing for easy access to all buttons, ports, as well as the speaker and camera. There’s also a raised lip that protects your screen and camera from any surface damage.
The leather is a little thinner than the genuine Apple article, but it’s still pretty good for the price. Especially now that Apple no longer makes cases for the iPhone SE.
Best Wallet Case: Silk Vault ($15)
If you don’t want to carry too many things with you, then a wallet case is a convenient 2-in-1 device. Your phone is safely protected, and you can still fit in bank cards and some cash too.
The Silk Vault does all that. It has room for three cards along with some cash, while still also protecting your phone from scratches and bumps. It’s made from lightweight material that’s still suitably durable. There are all the other features you need too, such as a raised lip that protects the screen, tactile button replacements, and there’s a free screen protector film thrown in, as well.
For when you want to consolidate what you carry each day, this is a good solution.