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Apple's clear iPhone XR case, reviewed

Here's what $40 gets you.


It looks like an empty box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple makes its own $40 case for the iPhone XR, finally available after being delayed weeks past the iPhone XR launch. It's a clear case. I received one today to try out.

Should you buy one? What does it feel like?

Here's my quick hands-on review after a few hours.

It's clear, that's for sure. The packaging looks like it has nothing in it. It's funny, because you're paying $40 for this case that looks empty.

The bendable clear plastic has a sturdy feel. The whole case is stiff, and it takes some effort to wedge the iPhone XR in just right. But the sides flex a bit to let the iPhone in. After that, it feels good and protects nearly the whole phone. It's made of optically clear polycarbonate and flexible TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), according to Apple.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The bottom edge is exposed, just like Apple's leather and silicone iPhone cases. Speakers and the Lightning port are easy to access, but the bottom edge of aluminum could possibly get scuffed.

Buttons are covered with clear plastic covers, but they're a little stiff to press. Except for the silent rocker switch on the left side, the buttons all get protective covering. The buttons can be used, but the stiff feel means the buttons don't seem to "click" as much. And sometimes I had to push in more than I do on the iPhone XS with its leather case.


Gettin' smudgy.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Beware of smudges! Of course, a clear rubbery-plastic case is going to be a fingerprint magnet. Apple claims scratch protection, but it's hard to tell how scuffed it will get on day one. But the outside and inside of the clear case, plus the glass iPhone XR back itself, collected smudges fast. No worry, but maybe keep an eyeglass cloth handy.

It's fine. But there are plenty of cheaper options. At last, Apple finally has its own case for the iPhone XR. And you can see your phone's nice new colors through it. But $40 for a clear plastic case is way too much. But there are plenty of lower-cost alternatives. Rick Broida has a few here, and David Carnoy lists many more

Sarah Tew/CNET

What took so long? And will Apple make clear cases for the rest of its iPhones, too?

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