Looking for a new case for your new iPhone 5S/5C or Samsung Galaxy S4? Check out some of our top picks for the holiday season.
Ballistic Shell Gel SG Series
Ballistic makes a number of "tough" smartphone cases that offer excellent drop protection. I've highlighted the Shell Gel SG Series because it's available for multiple devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5/5S. Comes in a few different colors.
This is Cygnett's tough case. I can't say its superdurable, but it's slicker-looking than some of the bulkier tough cases you see out there -- and Cygnett says it's compatible with the iPhone 5S. Also comes in a version for the Galaxy S4.
Element Case still makes some of the most expensive iPhone cases out there, with its swankiest models costing over $200. But more recently it decided to offer up some more affordable cases, including the new Solace, which goes for a mere $80 and is available in a few different color options (I like the green and purple). Take solace in that.
Element also makes some nice cases for the Galaxy S4. Our photo shows the front, but what's nice about it is that it has a carbon fiber back along with a built-in kickstand. Comes in a few different color options.
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 5/5S/5C 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). There's also a version for the Galaxy S4.
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. It's compatible with both the iPhone 5 and the 5S.
Incipio makes lots of cases for many of the major smartphones, including the HTC One, Moto X, Galaxy S4, LG G2, as well as iPhones and Galaxy models. The company's Kicksnap model (with a built-in kickstand) will soon be available for the iPhone 5S.
Lifeproof has brought its popular waterproof case Nuud case over to GS4 and hopes to have one for iPhone 5S "before the end of the year." (Alas, the fingerprint sensor is a problem for makers of tough cases).
Both iPhone 5 and GS4 owners can choose the Fre ($79.99), which leaves the screen exposed (but still keeps water and dust out of your phone).
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.
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.
M-Edge's Trina Turk line is geared toward women and comes in multiple design options. The case has a nice glossy finish with rubberized trim. It's a little swankier than it appears at first glance. Also available for the Galaxy S4.
Note: This case is scheduled to ship in early November.
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.
Moshi's iGlaze Kameleon features a built-in kickstand, and it's available in black or white. A really slick-looking slim case, it also works with the iPhone 5S. The standard iGlaze is available for the Galaxy S4.
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).
We're big fans of Pad & Quill notebook style cases for the iPad and previous versions of the iPhone. The new Little Pocket Book has the usual bamboo interior frame along with slots on the inside of the cover for storing credit cards and cash. A new version that's compatible with the 5S will ship soon (there's also a Luxury version coming).
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.
Rokform makes cases with built-in mounting systems. Its Rokshield V.3 is compatible with the iPhone 5S and comes in multiple color options. That includes a car mount. Other mounts are available as optional accessories. Rokform also makes cases for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3.
Sena makes some of the swankier leather cases for smartphones and tablets. I'm more partial to its flip-style cases, which protect your screen when closed, but it's been making some nice snap-on cases as well, including the Lugano (the Lugano Kontur is available for the iPhone 5/5S).
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, one of the leading case makers, has lots of cases for the iPhone 5/5S and other smartphones from HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia. The new CandyShell + Faceplate (pictured here) for the iPhone 5/5S adds a protective screen shield to the front of your phone. Available in multiple colors.
Speck makes a couple of attractive wallet-style cases that have slots for a couple of credits cards and a little cash. This is the Galaxy S4 version, but there's also versions available other smartphones (the iPhone 5/5S version costs $5 less). Available in few different color options.
The Argos is one of Spigen SGP's bread-and-butter cases. Available in a few different colors, it's a flip-style case that's highly protective. Also available for other smartphones besides the iPhone 5/5S.
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.
UK-based Tech21 makes a line of Impact cases, including the Snap -- and the Snap with Cover, pictured here. Some Impact cases are thinner and less expensive than others, but they're all pretty nice and come in multiple colors. Also available for other smartphones beyond the iPhone 5/5S.
Trident makes a host of tough cases for the iPhone 5/5S and Samsung Galaxy phones. 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.
Tylt makes a few different iPhone 5/5S cases, the most interesting of which may be the Sliding battery case, which includes -- you guessed it -- a slide-on battery pack. Also available in a Galaxy S3 version.
ZeroChroma's Theater-Stand 360 case is 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 nontranslucent version -- the VarioProtect 5 -- for $5 less ($39.95).
ZooGue has offered a number of deals on its simple Social Pro shell cases, and right now, it's selling them for $9.99 with free shipping. It comes in multiple colors. Available for multiple smartphones.