Best iPhone Cases for Rugged and Durable Protection

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The iPhone wasn’t designed to survive harsh environments like machine shops or wilderness trails, so you’ll need a case to protect it. Here are the best rugged cases to protect your device.

Using a poorly constructed iPhone case is almost as helpful as having no case at all. A drop, splash or smack is all it takes to render your $1,000 smartphone beyond repair or useless, so a durable case is a must.

For many users, a rubber or regular leather case will be enough to protect against daily bumps and drops. However, if you are going to be around bodies of water, loose sand, vibrating machinery, or rocky terrain, you will need a case to match the ends.

AppleInsider has rounded up the best cases to put on your iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone SE. These cases vary in levels of protection depending on the environment they might be exposed to, so keep in mind exactly what you’re trying to protect against.

The Best Rugged iPhone Cases

Urban Armor Gear Carbon Fiber

UAG’s rugged carbon fiber iPhone case features five layers of protection. Outer frame, impact resistant core, polycarbonate shear plate, metal alloy hardware and impact resistant rubber combine in a rugged enclosure.

UAG carbon fiber case is designed for drops up to 20 feet

UAG tested the case to 20 feet or 6 meters for drop protection. It is also certified to Mil Spec standards.

Although it’s packed with layers of protective materials, it still allows basic wireless charging through the case, but not MagSafe.

UAG also offers a rugged iPhone 13 mini case for $34.95 on Amazon, but it doesn’t have quite as much protection. The UAG iPhone SE case is made from Kevlar with rubber padding and costs $49.95 on Amazon.

Otterbox Defender XT Series

The Otterbox Defender Series XT features dual-layered protection in a thin yet durable casing. A magnetic plate ensures MagSafe charging and accessories still work through the case.

Otterbox Defender series protects against drops and dirt

Otterbox Defender series protects against drops and dirt

It is designed to withstand 5 times more drops than military standard MIL-STD-810G 516.6. The case also has port covers to keep out dirt and debris.

Spigen Resistant Armor

Spigen’s Tough Armor cases use a combination of TPU and polycarbonate for protection against drops and scratches. An additional layer of foam provides impact resistance.

The Spigen Tough Armor case offers more protection than a standard case

The Spigen Tough Armor case offers more protection than a standard case

It’s not the sturdiest case, but it’s one of the more affordable rugged cases. It has a kickstand for watching videos and a small cutout to show the Apple logo on the back of your iPhone.

Griffin Survivor Stamina

The Griffin Survivor Endurance case has a slim profile but is designed to protect against drops up to 14 feet. The three-layer construction is constructed from recycled materials and has antimicrobial properties.

Griffin Survivor Endurance is compatible with MagSafe accessories

Griffin Survivor Endurance is compatible with MagSafe accessories

The case is compatible with MagSafe chargers and accessories. Raised edges around the camera and screen bump provide extra protection if the case is dropped.

Griffin also has a rugged iPhone SE case called Survivor Strong Case for $26.06 on Amazon.

LifeProof Eng

The LifeProof Fre series provides a waterproof case for your iPhone. It can be completely submerged up to two meters for an hour.

LifeProof Fre is a fully submersible rugged iPhone case

LifeProof Fre is a fully submersible rugged iPhone case

The case is also very protective, with protection against drops up to two meters high. This case also has a built-in screen protector to provide 360 ​​degree protection for your iPhone.

As a bonus, the LifeProof Fre is also MagSafe compatible.

LifeProof also offers a case for the iPhone 13 mini called LifeProof See for $59.99 on Amazon. It is not waterproof but offers drop protection up to 2 meters and is MagSafe compatible.

Screen Protectors

Cases typically protect your device from drops and other collisions, but don’t always have a built-in screen protector. If your phone is in a corrosive environment where sand, rocks, or metal shards may be present, you’ll also want to protect the screen.

Screen protectors aren’t perfect and won’t last forever – they need to be changed from time to time. We recommend finding glass protectors that mimic the texture of the iPhone screen for best results.

We found Nomad’s screen protector to offer great protection at an affordable price. Get the Nomad iPhone 13 Screen Protector for $24.95. Be sure to choose your corresponding iPhone size before purchase.

Spigen makes an affordable iPhone SE screen protector for just $13.99 on Amazon.


When all else fails, don’t forget Apple’s in-house insurance and warranty service called AppleCare. When you buy a new device, you have sixty days to sign up for AppleCare to ensure you’re covered for up to three years.

With AppleCare, you can get your iPhone repaired or replaced for much less than an out-of-warranty claim. However, it doesn’t cover all forms of damage, like water damage, so be sure to read the fine print on your coverage.

About Sandra A. Powell

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