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As far as iPhone cases go, there's lots and lots to choose from out there. From cheap no-name deals that go for a buck or two, to established brand players that take case making to the next level, with more precise production methods and higher-quality materials.
If you've splurged on an expensive iPhone XS or XS Max, it makes little sense to go after those cheap deals out there, because more often than not, there are significant compromises to be had with them. Holes and cutouts don't line up precisely, lines aren't perfectly straight... you probably know how it goes.
So we propose a better solution for the protection of your valuable gadget – a quality case! Now, with cases, you can never be sure if you'll like it until you actually try it on your phone, which makes the purchase of a real brand case somewhat of an occasion. So we thought we might be able to help by sourcing a nice bunch of cases from some of the most popular accessory makers out there and see how they hold up in real life.
Well, you can check out our finding below, and we start with what are probably some of the most popular iPhone XS cases out there: those sold by Apple.
One final word before we take a look at the cases: as you can imagine, there are tons upon tons of iPhone XS and XS Max cases out there, so it'd be next to impossible if we tried to include all possible choices. We've tried to cover the essentials, but if you feel like we're missing on a major brand or case model, feel free to drop a comment to let us know, and we may update this post with it in the future!
It makes sense to start with Apple's official cases, right? First on the list is the Apple Silicone Case, which, to be honest, left us wanting more. Way more. The case covers some bases such as having a precise, tight fit, and it has a nice, soft padding on the inside, but man, that rubbery type finish is a disaster.
Let's say that the way it feels (terrible) is subjective; what's not subjective is the amount of dust and other particles it quickly accumulates from just being in your pocket. Also not subjective is how unresponsive it makes the press the volume and power buttons. It's not terribly expensive, sure, but so are most other entries you'll discover in this article.
Apple's Leather Case is a much better deal. It's 10 dollars more expensive than the Silicone one, but it makes a pretty big difference. Once again, it has that nice, soft padding on the inside, it comes in a bunch of pleasant colors, and it generally feels and looks good.
It's not all good, though. The Apple Leather Case for iPhone XS and XS Max is definitely on the slippery side, and it makes the volume and power buttons quite stiff.
We have one more case from Apple – the Leather Folio Case offers a good fit and the convenience of an inner compartment for cards and whatever else you manage to fit in there. Actually, holding valuable cards in there may not be such a smart idea, because the space isn't too tight, and given the frequency of opening and closing a smartphone case, there's a chance things may fall off.
Aside from that, the lid of the Folio case isn't held with magnets or in some other way, so it can accidentally open as you handle the device, or while in free fall, in case you happen to drop it. On top of that, having to constantly deal with the lid can make using the phone itself an inconvenient experience. Add to that the $100 price, and it's clear that we aren't huge fans of this case. If you do want a case with such a form-factor, there are better choices out there!
Spigen offers a massive line of cases for the iPhone XS and XS Max, and you can literally find dozens of different models on its web store: from folio cases, to simple back ones, to rugged ones. We've chosen to check out three models: the Thin Fit, Liquid Crystal and Liquid Air.
From our impressions, we've discovered that the following characteristics tend to be true for all Spigen cases: they fit the iPhone XS and XS Max very well, they are highly protective, and they keep the volume and power buttons highly clickable, the latter being a somewhat rare feat. On the flip side, Spigen cases tend to be somewhat bulky (which is the trade-off for their protectiveness).
The Thin Fit is one of Spigen's simpler, shell cases; the plastic has a smooth finish, almost soft-touch-like. The Liquid Crystal and Liquid Air, on the other hand, are flexible silicone cases, but they seem to be way better than the official silicone case sold by Apple.
If you're looking for a thicker, more protective case, we recommend that you take a look at Spigen's entire line-up.
The Peel cases, or rather the Peel case — because it's more like one case available in numerous finishes and colors — is a wonderful thing, if you happen to share its makers' vision. Jon and Marshall from Peel had this idea that they loved their sexy iPhones, but they hated how generic cases tended to ruin their appearance. That's why they came up with the Peel case, which, according to them, is the original super-thin case design!
We can't be sure if that's indeed the case, but one thing we can confirm is that we love these Peel cases. Unlike cheaper no-name cases, we found the Peels to have a very precise fit: buttons, speakers, mic holes, everything lines up perfectly. And these cases are so thin, they almost feel like they become one with the phone!
Obviously, the Peel case won't protect your phone much in case you drop it, seeing that it's so thin, but it will absorb all manner of scratch situations – you'll have the piece of mind when handling your phone and laying it on tables and other surfaces. Good job, Jon; good job, Marshall!
Totallee iPhone XS cases
The Totallee case is pretty much identical to the Peel case; the only difference we found was that it's just a bit more expensive. Why? Totallee explains that it gives you a cool two-year warranty for its cases, which sounds like a reasonable explanation to us. Quality-wise, it's the same as Peel and the range of available colors is almost identical.
What we said of Peel applies with full force here as well. The fit is precise, the materials are lightweight, and we love the fact we can choose between a matte and a glossy finish, at least for the black, white, and clear colors. Also great is the design of the case around the rear camera (again applies to both Peel and Totallee), as it extends just a bit more than the camera itself, which serves to protect the camera cover from scratching.
If you tend to drop your phone a lot (boo), you might need a thicker case, but if minimal protection is what you want, both Peel and Totallee are wonderful options.
VRS Design is another popular case maker with a vast line-up of cases for the iPhone XS and XS Max. The Layered Dandy (10/10 for the name) is a leather folio case that has a front lid to protect the screen. Unlike the official Apple folio case, however, the Layered Dandy has a nice magnetic lock that keeps the lid securely in place. It's a pretty nice case, but since it's supposed to be dandy, it has an interesting red stitching for a more eccentric appearance. It's cool!
However, the Layered Dandy might as well get the prize for the most horrible unboxing experience, as the box is held together by numerous plastic clips, which aren't especially easy to detach.
UAG Plasma iPhone case
UAG, which stands for Urban Armor Gear, produces some of the toughest cases in the industry, and the Plasma is the perfect example.
The softer, more flexible parts of the UAG Plasma are reinforced by a rigid skeleton that reaches from one end of the case to the other. This case screams heavy duty, and is obviously not for the mainstream, but it also feels surprisingly good in the hand.
Also, it doesn't look terrible, and once you pick it up, it feels just as natural to use as any other case.
If you like leather cases, Mujjo has one of the best around. Mujjo is an emerging design-focused Dutch accessory maker, and as such, tries to bring some European sophistication to the world of iPhone case making.
Mujjo cases are of very high quality and come in a number of natural, soothing colors. They tend to be rather simplistic, so what you get is a choice between a normal leather case and a wallet leather case. While the structure appears to be sufficiently strong, the wallet sleeve on the back of the wallet case may not age particularly well, by the looks of it. It's very nicely made, but we won't be shocked if it gets a bit loose over time.
The Otterbox Strada folio case is a fine iPhone XS case. Being a folio, it has a lid on the front to protect the screen, but it differentiates itself with interesting leather patterns and colors.
It's pricey, but then again, it's quite the case. It's very well built, and it features a magnetic lock to keep the lid securely closed and not flapping around (like with the official Apple folio case).
The Strada is pretty cool, but it's also pretty big, and it also makes the phone's buttons not very responsive. Finally, we have to acknowledge the fact that the experience of taking (more like 'forcing') the Otterbox Strada out of its box is unreasonably bad.