Since the release of the iPhone 5 in 2012 and the iPhone 5S in 2013, this list has been updated several times as new cases have been released (and yes, plenty of new cases continue to hit the market in 2014).
There are close to 100 cases in the round up but I've front-loaded the slideshow with some brands and cases that I think deserve a little more attention -- call them the best of the best. I've starred (*) those picks to help people narrow down their choices (look for the asterisk). However, there are still too many cases to choose from -- and several companies have a few different stand out cases in their line ups.
Note that many of the "old" iPhone 5 cases, some of which are still in this round up, fit the new iPhone 5S just fine because the iPhone 5's design is very close to the iPhone 5S'.
However, there are two key differences. First, the 5S has a fingerprint sensor, which means any iPhone 5 case that covers the home button technically isn't compatible with the iPhone 5S (you can, of course, not use the fingerprint sensor, but if you want to, you don't want anything covering the home button). Second, Apple has added an additional LED flash to the 5's back camera. As long as the hole on the back of an iPhone 5 case is big enough to accommodate the dual flashes, it should be compatible. But the ring around the camera also needs to be black. Word is that if it's another color, it could confuse the flash's sensor, which is designed to optimize the color of the flash to bring out the best skin tones in your subjects.
Speck, one of the leading iPhone case makers, is offering up several cases for the iPhone 5/5S, a few of which I'm highlighting in the round up. Many are based on older designs (yes, there's the basic CandyShell in multiple colors) along with tweaks to earlier cases, including the CandyShell + Faceplate (pictured here), which adds a protective screen shield to the front of your phone.
It's worth noting that going forward Speck is focusing its branding around the CandyShell name. So going forward expect all its cases to be CandyShells (its new CandyShell Inked cases, for example, are wrapped with high-resolution graphics instead of just one solid color).
All of Speck's CandyShell cases are compatible with the Faceplate, but we're still waiting for the Faceplate to be sold separately.
Lifeproof has released its popular waterproof case for the iPhone 5S, tweaking the case's design so you can use the fingerprint sensor. In the new version, a thin, translucent membrane covers the home button, keeping water and grime out while allowing your fingerprint to still be read (in my tests I indeed managed to unlock the phone with my finger).
iPhone 5/5S users can choose between the Fre (pictured here -- $79.99) and the Nuud ($89.99), which leaves the screen exposed but still keeps water and dust out of your phone. The Nuud has a translucent back while the Fre has a window in back to show off the Apple logo.
The Fre is available in many colors but the Nuud is only available in black and white.
A lot of people don't want to spend more than a few bucks on a case, and there are plenty of basic "no-name" cases available on Amazon in the $5-$15 range, including those from MiniSuit.
When it comes to iPhone cases, you don't get much cheaper than this. Depending on what color you get (yes, it's available in multiple), you can pick one up for around $7-$8 shipped (or less if you're an Amazon Prime member). Needless to say, this one's about as basic as it gets, but for a lot of folks that will be fine.
Note: MiniSuit also makes a few other variations of this TPU case but they are all very similar.
The one issue with flip-cover or "folio" style smartphone cases is that while the front cover offers good screen protection, it can be a little cumbersome when you're answering a call or have the phone held up to your ear.
Moshi's answer is the SenseCover, a new faux leather flip-style case that has a built-in window, along with touch sensors which allow you to answer phone calls, check the time, or turn off alarms without opening the front of the case.
The case looks similar to Samsung's Galaxy S4 S-View Flip Cover Folio Case and other GS4 folio cases that have an integrated window that allow you to view the time and incoming caller ID info and other notifications.
It's also worth mentioning that SenseCover also has a magnetic clasp that keeps the cover folded back neatly and out of the way when you do have the cover open.
I'm a fan of Spigen SGP cases, which comes in a variety of styles. The affordable Spigen SGP Slim Armor is one of the sleeker thin cases available and pretty affordable, too. I also like the company's Neo Hybrid case (it comes in a translucent version called the Ultra Hybrid).
I've always liked Pad & Quill notebook style cases for the iPad and previous versions of the iPhone. The new Little Pocket Book for the iPhone has the usual bamboo interior frame along with slots on the inside of the cover for storing credit cards and cash. A Luxury version is also available.
I really like Pure.gear's Dualtek case, which is durable yet not too bulky. Its only small flaw is that the Pure.gear could have designed the cutaway area at the bottom of the case a little better. It's got a little too much play in it and could be stiffer. Available in multiple colors.
Element earned a reputation as the company that made swanky cases that cost almost as much as your iPhone, with some cases costing over $200. Now it's got some more affordable cases (by affordable I mean less than $100 which may still seem crazy to some people), including a new line of cases that are part of its Hogue collection (Element has teamed up with the folks at Hogue, who make shooting sports and outdoors accessories). The Rogue Black Ops is part of the new line and comes in a different color options.
Urban Armor makes this case in a number of different colors (they all have different names) and for a number of different phones. The translucent version pictured -- the Maverick -- is my personal favorite among the color options.
The Typo keyboard is backed by Ryan Seacrest, who wished his iPhone had a more BlackBerry-like physical keyboard. The Typo, which connects to your phone via Bluetooth, works well, but BlackBerry says it's too much like its own keyboards and is suing. That may be one of the reasons it's selling so well -- people are afraid it'll be taken off the market, so they're jumping on it while they can.
Note: The initial production run of the case is sold out and additional cases won't be available until March (if you pre-order now).
The Ballistic Every1 case is one of my favorite tough cases. It's highly protective yet not incredibly bulky. It also has a built-in kickstand. Available in multiple colors. It's unclear yet whether this is compatible with the 5S. (Ballistic has introduced new cases for the 5C but we're still waiting on new cases for the 5S).
The Belkin Flex is a pretty simple case, but it has a nice design. What's also nice is that it comes in a two-pack, and it's affordable at $20. Should be compatible with the 5S, but that hasn't been confirmed yet.
Camalen makes some upscale iPad and iPhone cases and its Wallet Snap case, which is essentially a two-for-one case. You get a shell cover (in leather) that you can use on its own. Or you can slip it into the detachable wallet case to pick up added protection and storage for credit cards and cash. What's nice is that the inner case adheres magnetically to the outer wallet cover.
The Camalen Wallet Snap comes in four colors. It's not compatible with the 5S, but Camalen is presumably working on expanding the camera cut-out for the 5S' dual LED to make it compatible.
CM4 brings its Q Card case to the iPhone 5/5S. This one can actually hold both cards and money, as well as IDs, but be careful not to jam too much stuff in the wallet portion or you can end up stretching out the faux leather. Like a lot of these cases, I'd like to see this one about $15 cheaper. Available in a few different colors. (And yes, this one is compatible with the 5S).
I like Case Scenario's Pantone Universe collection of cases. There's a simple hardcase that comes in multiple colors as well as the Bookcase, which has a flip cover that protects your screen, and the case converts into a stand for video watching. (I liked the look of the Bookcase -- it comes in multiple colors -- and how lightweight it is, but it does leave the corners of your phone a little bit exposed).
The hardcase shown here -- also available in multiple colors -- should be compatible with the 5S, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Australian case maker Cygnett has a number of cool iPhone 5 case designs, including the Urban Shield, a slick, relatively slim case. It's available in multiple colors. Cygnett says this case is compatible with the 5S.
DodoCase has finally started making its signature notebook folio-style case for the iPhone 5/5S. I got an early sample and it seems pretty nice, though it needs to get worn in a bit. It's also available in black.
Element only recently started doing wallet cases and I thought the Soft-Tec Wallet case I tried out is very well done. It's made of leather, has a magnetic clasp, slots for a few credit cards and money, and is made of leather. Available in a few different color options.
G-Form, the company known for dropping iPhones and iPads from the stratosphere to show off how tough its Xtreme cases are, has an Xtreme case for the iPhone 5/5S.
According to G-Form, the secret sauce behind its cases is its three-layer "technique," which combines its "patented Reactive Protection Technology with a rigid outer polycarbonate shell and an inner shock-absorbing TPE insert."
For a tough case, it's relatively lightweight, not too bulky, and has a unique look.
Of course, it's a little bit of overkill to drop a phone from 100,000 feet -- especially since the case probably wouldn't protect the phone if it dropped 2 feet into a toilet -- but hey, it makes for a popular YouTube video.
Hard Candy still sells its ShockDrop, a three-layer case with a built-in screen protector, for the iPhone 5. When it comes to the 5S, it has a couple of eye-catching, bubbly cases, the Neon Bubble and the Chrome Bubble (pictured here).
iSkin keeps refining its Aura line and its version for the iPhone 5 with its signature brushed-aluminum back has never looked better. It comes in multiple attractive colors (yes, I would have a hard time choosing one). The company says that the Aura is compatible with the 5S.
This is the case that put iSkin on the map. Made out of soft yet durable translucent plastic, the Solo comes in four colors, including purple, black, pink, and teal. iSkin says it's compatible with the 5S.
The Atlas is Incipio's Lifeproof-style waterproof case. The new ID version allows the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to work on the 5S. I still prefer the Lifeproof Fre case, but the Atlas is one of the better waterproof cases available. Like a lot of these waterproof cases, accessing the headphone port isn't always a simple affair, especially if your headphones have a bigger jack. The Atlas ID comes in a few color options.
Incipio calls its offGrid Pro a "removable battery case." All cases are removable, of course, but removable here is a reference to the battery inside the case which is indeed removable. In fact, you get two thin removable batteries, so if you need even more juice, you can carry that extra battery around and swap it in when you need to. One battery will charge the iPhone 100 percent (doubling the iPhone's battery life), so this battery case is rated to triple the battery life of your phone when you count that second removable battery.
You can charge your phone and battery in the case with a micro USB cable or use the separate battery charger, which can charge both removable batteries at once. Like other battery cases for the 5/5S, you may have some trouble accessing the headphone port on your phone, particularly if your headphone jack is superslim. Incipio, like Mophie, provides a short headphone dongle that works with any headphone jack.
Loop's bandage-inspired Mummy i5 case doesn't quite cover the back of your iPhone, but it does leave room for you to slip a credit card and a $20 bill or two into it. Just don't jam too many cards in there or you'll stretch the case out. Available in multiple colors.
Lunatik makes a few "extreme protection cases," which have interchangeable backs and fronts (if you decide to get two colors). The Lunatik Extreme is the toughest case, but it isn't compatible with the iPhone 5S Touch ID (a 5S version should ship in the near future). However, the Taktik Strike, which doesn't cover the home button, works just fine with the 5S. Also available in white and pink.
Magpul Industries, the maker of controversial firearms and firearm accessories, also puts its brand on iPhone cases. The MAG542 is an affordable, attractively designed case with a nicely textured finish and "PMAG-style ribs for added grip."
Though a tad pricey, Mapi's Alinda + Smyrna is a swanky case/holster that comes in a few different colors. What's nice is that you can opt to go just with the thin Smyrna shell case (yes, it's covered in leather) or add the holster on the occasions you need more protection.
Mapi's cases aren't cheap, but they're made of very high-quality leather. The Orion is a flipper-style case with a twist: It allows you to prop up your iPhone horizontally or vertically. Available in a few different colors.
For a fairly simple case, the Marware Doubletake has some flair to it. It blends a glossy finish with some textured design elements, which will help keep your case in your pocket. Available in multiple colors.
The Marware Milan is an interesting wallet folio case with credit card slots that mixes faux wood with faux leather. It looks pretty good for being made of vinyl and plastic, but its list price is high. Luckily you can find it for significantly less online.
Marware is known for making affordable smartphone cases. It has a number of new cases for the iPhone 5, including the nicely textured Revolution, which also comes in white. You will probably find it for less money on Amazon.
This is Marware's take on the Wallet case. It can hold two credit cards or IDs and has a built-in plastic clip to hold the cards in place. What's also kind of cool is that you can use your credit card to prop up your iPhone horizontally or vertically, converting the case into a stand.
Mophie has been the go-to battery case for lots of power users who can't get through a full day without it. The company makes a few different Juice Packs and the Juice Pack Plus has the highest capacity battery (2100mAh), more than doubling the battery life of your iPhone (it's rated at "120 percent"). It's sleek for a battery case (it also comes in red and white), and while it's a little pricey compared to some competitors, it's still recommendable.
Just be warned that if you may have some trouble accessing the headphone port, particularly if your headphones have a larger jack -- or an L-shaped one. Mophie does provide a headphone dongle that sticks out the bottom of the case and fits any headphone jack. It is easy to lose, however.
The Defender Series used to be OtterBox's toughest case but now the waterproof Armor Series, which comes in three different colors, is the company's toughest. I like the slimmer design of Lifeproof's waterproof case better, but the Armor is a beast of a case and you can access the headphone jack without using a special dongle. That said, I didn't entirely trust the seal on the little door that covers the headphone jack. But OtterBox says the case is rated to be underwater as far down as 6.6 feet for up to 30 minutes.
It's worth noting that while Armor case lists for $99.99, you can find it online for less than $70, which is a bit less expensive than the Lifeproof. Note: It is is not compatible with the iPhone 5S.
OtterBox's old stalwart, the Defender Series, has been updated for the iPhone 5S (it's also compatible with the iPhone 5). Otterbox has removed the plastic covering at the bottom of the screen and has cut a hole out in the screen shield so you can use the 5S's fingerprint sensor. This is currently OtterBox's toughest case, though it's not quite as tough as it once was. Available in multiple colors.
This is OtterBox's new slimmer, waterproof case. It comes in iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C versions. As of mid-October, the iPhone 5 version was shipping, but the 5S version, pictured above, was still a few weeks away. The Preserver looks more like a Lifeproof case, which is ironic, considering Otterbox now owns Lifeproof (we're still waiting for a Lifeproof case for the 5S).
Rokform makes cases with built-in mounting systems. Its Rokshield V.3 is compatible with the iPhone 5S and comes in multiple color options. The includes a a car mount and other mounts are available as optional accessories.
Seido, known for its tough cases, has several options for the iPhone 5, including the Active, which comes in multiple colors and includes a built-in metal kickstand. (Note: Seido is expected to offer new iPhone 5S cases shortly).
Sena makes some of the swankier leather cases for smartphones and the iPad. I'm more partial to its flip-style cases (it also makes several pouch-style cases), which protect your screen when closed. The Hampton Flip has smooth leather and is available in a few different colors.
Skech is offering a growing number of iPhone 5 cases, including the affordable GripShock case that comes in multiple colors. It's relatively thin, but offers a fair amount protection and a nicely textured "weave" finish.
More people are choosing folio style cases for their iPhones with a flip cover to protect their screens, and Skech has its Lisso Book, which also features a slot to store a credit card and ID on the back. It's one of the better folio-style iPhone cases I've tested, with a magnet in the cover and a slim, real leather design. Only drawback: the corners of your iPhone aren't covered.
Speck makes a couple of attractive wallet-style cases that have slots for a couple of credits cards and a little cash. There's the SmartFlex Wallet and the slightly more expensive CandyShell Card ($39.95), which has a glossy finish. Available in multiple color options.
The Spigen SGP Ultra Thin Air is exactly what it sounds like -- an ultraslim case. I tried the white model and it looks really sleek on the white iPhone 5, but obviously doesn't offer a ton of protection (the top and bottom of your iPhone are left pretty exposed). It's also available in clear and black.
The Systm Chisel is an interesting looking case with two layers and a Poron XRD protection back. I'm not sure what that stands for but it sounds rugged. Note: Systm cases have apparently been produced and designed by Incase. The Chisel is available in a handful of color combos.
As I mentioned in an earlier slide, U.K.-based Tech21's Impact line includes several models. For those of you who like some screen protection from a folio-style case, this is the company's Impact Snap with Cover case.
Trident makes a host of tough cases for the iPhone 5. It's hard to say which one I like best. The Kraken is probably the toughest, but it is fairly beefy. Meanwhile, the Cyclops offers a lot of protection but is a little slimmer. It's now compatible with the iPhone 5S.
All of Trident's cases are available in multiple colors.
With Uncommon cases, you pick the design -- yes, you can upload your own photos if you want -- and it gets printed on a case. There are a few different case options to choose from. You can also opt for one of dozens of "ready-made" case designs.
uNu Power DX External Protective Battery Case for iPhone 5S/5
This is uNu's competitor to the Mophie charging cases. It's got an integrated 2300mAh battery that's rated to completely recharge your iPhone 5 or 5S. Mophie's equivalent case, the Juice Pack Plus (2100mAh), costs around $35 more. I'd say the Mophie's a little slicker looking but if you want to save some money, the uNu's a relatively good deal.
uNu markets itself as a "green engineering" company and its EcoPak Protective Snap-on Case & Detachable Extended Battery is an interesting concept. Unlike a lot of other extended batteries, this one is detachable and can charge other devices as well (it has a USB port).
The Ecopak includes a 2,500mAh battery that clips on to the back of an Eco-Snap case (uNu sells the Eco-Snap cases separately). You will have to connect your Lightning cable to charge the phone, but you can detach the battery and tuck it into a bag when you don't need the extra juice.
ZeroChroma's Theater-Stand 360 case is now available in a translucent version with various trim colors. The stand swivels to prop up your iPhone vertically or horizontally. This case is also come in a non-translucent version -- the VarioProtect 5 -- for $5 less ($39.95).