Apple's iPhone SE may be new on the inside, but aside from some minor design and cosmetic differences, it shares the same chassis as Apple iPhone 5S/5. And that means all those "old" iPhone 5/5S cases will fit the new iPhone SE, an Apple rep and several case manufacturers have confirmed.
Not only does this mean iPhone SE owners will have a huge selection of cases to choose from at launch, but many of those cases are discounted (and some may be discontinued).
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: 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 will have to updated again as we cull discontinued products. And now that the iPhone SE has arrived expect plenty of new cases to hit the market in 2016.
Photo by: David Carnoy/CNET
Speck CandyShell Grip*
Speck, one of the leading iPhone case makers, is offering up several cases for the iPhone SE/5S. Yes, there's the basic CandyShell (in multiple colors) along with tweaks to earlier cases, including the CandyShell + Faceplate, which adds a protective screen shield to the front of your phone.
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 has come down in price dramatically from its original $120 list price. And the lower capacity Juice Pack Helium can be had for as low as $20 (that price may go up with the release of the iPhone SE).
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.
Price: Around $40 on Amazon (or around $20 for Juice Pack Helium).
Lifeproof's popular waterproof come in a Fre version (pictured here) and Nuud version, 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.
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.
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.
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."
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-$10 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 $5 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.
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.
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 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 a few different color options but the black model is selling for less than $10 on Amazon (it started out at $50).
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.
Rocketcases makes a number of basic, retro-style cases, including ones that look like cassette tapes and Nintendo Gameboys. They're all affordable at $14.95 and some colors -- white, for instance -- cost as little as $5.
CM4 brings its Q Card case to the iPhone SE/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 cost about $10 less. Available in a few different colors.
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 5/5S case designs, including the Urban Shield, a slick, relatively slim case that can be found for as low as $4 on Amazon (it's "add-on" item).
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 SE/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.
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, 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.
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.
This is OtterBox's old stalwart, the Defender Series. 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 SE and 5S' 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).
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, which has a glossy finish. Available in multiple color options.
Trident makes a host of tough cases for the iPhone SE/5S. 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.
Tylt makes a few different iPhone SE/5S cases, the most interesting of which may be the Sliding battery case, which includes -- you guessed it -- a slide on battery pack. It's now discounted to $40 from its original price of $100.