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Article updated on June 13, 2024 at 9:00 AM PDT

Best Apple iPhone SE Case to Protect Your Phone in 2024

If you want to blend fashion and functionality to protect your iPhone SE, you may want to consider one of these gorgeous and budget-friendly cases.

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Written by 
David Carnoy
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
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What to Consider

Thinner or thicker?

Clear case?

Qi Wireless Charging Support?

We generally encourage people to spend the extra money for a Qi-enabled case because of the wireless charging capabilities associated with the product.

Our Picks

$10 at Amazon
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Slim and protective
Speck cases
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$27 at Amazon
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Top Otterbox case
Otterbox Commuter
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$10 at Amazon
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Tough clear case
Gear4 Piccadilly
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$17 at Amazon
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Tough case with integrated kickstand
Spigen Tough Armor
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$25 at Walmart
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Slim but tough
Otterbox Symmetry Series
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$18 at Amazon
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Affordable wallet case
Spigen Slim Armor CS
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See at Urban Armor
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Corner protection
Urban Armor Gear
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$6 at Amazon
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Simple and see-through
Incipio NGP
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$13 at Amazon
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Eco-friendly case
LifeProof Wake Series
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$20 at Walmart
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Popular wallet case
Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 2
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$8 at Amazon
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Under-$10 wallet case
Moment Dextrad
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$13 at Amazon
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Solid and slim
Griffin Survivor Clear
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$6 at Amazon
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Compostable case
Incipio Organicore
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$65 at Walmart
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Fully waterproof case
LifeProof Fre
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$20 at Walmart
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Premium case for a little less
Raptic Shield
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$17 at Amazon
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Stylish and affordable
Cyrill Leather Brick (Out of Stock)
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What's the best iPhone SE case overall?

The third-gen iPhone SE -- better known as the iPhone SE (2022) -- is the only iPhone with Touch ID currently. It doesn't boast high-end specs, but if you're still rocking it in 2024, and would like to extend its life, you should consider getting a case for it. It's a phone worthy of a solid case to keep it in tip-top shape. 

For the most part, companies will advertise their SE cases as being compatible with the iPhone 7, 8, iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone SE (2022). iPhone 7 and 8 cases will also fit the 2022 SE. Thanks to this backward compatibility, a portion of the iPhone SE cases featured on this list are ones we tested with earlier iPhone models and we can recommend them based on our previous experience using them.

I've included a wide variety of cases and emphasize cases that are also a good value. If you're in the market for a so-called value phone like the iPhone SE, chances are you don't want to spend too much on a case. Since some of these cases have been on shelves for a while, you will see some nice discounts on excellent iPhone SE cases. Some are listed with special features, such as a built-in wallet or kickstand.

Best iPhone SE Cases of 2024

$10 at Amazon

Slim and protective

Speck cases

Speck makes several cases for the iPhone SE and you can find several on sale at Amazon for less than $15. The two cases pictured here are part of the Presidio Grip Series, which comes in a variety of color options (prices vary by color).

$27 at Amazon

Top Otterbox case

Otterbox Commuter

My two favorite Otterbox cases are the Commuter Series and Symmetry Series, both of which come in a variety of colors. The dual-layer Commuter Series is a little more protective and has a latch that covers the charging port. Prices vary by color.

$10 at Amazon

Tough clear case

Gear4 Piccadilly

Zagg's Gear4 cases for the iPhone SE are similar in quality to Speck and Otterbox cases. The Piccadilly is selling for only $10. The Crystal Palace is very similar but completely clear and currently is the same price.

$17 at Amazon

Tough case with integrated kickstand

Spigen Tough Armor

Spigen's Tough Armor cases have been around for a while and are notable for their circular cutout exposing the Apple logo and their built-in kickstand. They do offer decent protection and hold up fairly well over time, although not quite as well as some Otterbox and Speck cases. The Tough Armor is available in multiple color options.

$25 at Walmart

Slim but tough

Otterbox Symmetry Series

Otterbox's Symmetry Series comes in a variety of color options, including a clear version with glitter. As I said, Otterbox's Commuter Series case offers slightly more protection, but you can't go wrong with its Symmetry Series cases.

$18 at Amazon

Affordable wallet case

Spigen Slim Armor CS

Spigen Slim Armor CS comes in a variety of color options and has a slot that allows you to store a couple of credit cards (or a single credit card and some cash) inside the case. The only downside is that it's not compatible with wireless charging.

See at Urban Armor

Corner protection

Urban Armor Gear

Urban Armor Gear offers a few different case designs for the iPhone SE in a variety of colors. I personally like the Plasma, but the Armor, Pathfinder and Plyo are also good, with the Plyo having the slimmest design. UAG's cases all feature good corner protection and meet military drop-test standards. Prices vary by style and start at $15.

$6 at Amazon

Simple and see-through

Incipio NGP

Incipio's NGP case is a simple translucent case that offers decent protection in a slim package. The black version is currently $16 at Amazon. It's listed as being compatible with the iPhone 5 but will fit the iPhone SE, both 2022 and 2020 models.

$13 at Amazon

Eco-friendly case

LifeProof Wake Series

LifeProof's Wake case is made out of recycled ocean plastic. While I wouldn't call it super tough -- it isn't enclosed at the bottom -- it's rated for 6-foot drop protection and is attractively designed. Available in three color options, price varies by color.

$20 at Walmart

Popular wallet case

Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 2

Smartish makes three cases for the SE, the Gripmunk, Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 and Wallet Slayer Vol. 2 (the latter two are wallet cases). I'm slightly more partial to the Slayer Vol. 2, which comes in a couple of color options for the SE. It's a pretty basic case but offers a decent grip and can hold a couple of credit cards along with some cash. You can use your credit card as a kickstand by inserting it into the slot in the back of the case.

$8 at Amazon

Under-$10 wallet case

Moment Dextrad

I bought a similar version of this case to use with a Samsung phone. It's a faux-leather wallet case that has a magnetic clasp with room on the inside for three credit cards and some cash. It also converts into a kickstand for watching videos.

$13 at Amazon

Solid and slim

Griffin Survivor Clear

Griffin's Survivor cases offer 6-foot drop protection with reinforced (and raised) corners that can help your phone avoid damage should it fall facedown.

$6 at Amazon

Compostable case

Incipio Organicore

Incipio's Organicore case is another eco-friendly case that Incipio says is 100% compostable. The oat-colored version is on sale for $6.

$65 at Walmart

Fully waterproof case

LifeProof Fre

The third-gen iPhone SE has an IP67 water resistance rating, which means it can survive being dunked in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. If you want an even more waterproof option, LifeProof's Fre case is the way to go. This once-popular case (before the iPhone got some waterproofing) is still quite expensive but it does offer maximum protection for your phone.

$20 at Walmart

Premium case for a little less

Raptic Shield

Available in a few colors, Raptic's Shield case costs less than an OtterBox case and offers similar toughness with 10-foot drop protection.

$17 at Amazon

Stylish and affordable

Cyrill Leather Brick (Out of Stock)

Spigen's sister brand Cyrill makes a few different cases for the iPhone SE. I like the Leather Brick (it's "vegan" leather, not real leather), but all of Cyrill's cases are well-designed and decent for the money. The Leather Brick is currently out of stock on Amazon and Cyrill's website. For an alternative, you can check out Apple's leather iPhone SE case.

Factors to consider when buying an iPhone SE case

Qi Wireless Charging Support -- or not?

Because iPhone SEs do not have MagSafe capabilities, you'll want to decide how important wireless charging is to your daily lifestyle. If you're someone who would find the set-it-and-forget-it style convenient, consider getting a thinner phone case that would allow for the electrical currents to travel through. If you're fine with using the traditional Lightning cable, you'll be able to buy a phone case as thick as you'd like.

Thin or thicker?

Some people like minimal cases that add little to no bulk to their iPhones, but the majority of people are looking for a case that offers good protection -- or even maximum protection. I tell people to find a case that's not too thick and maybe even pretty slim and that offers at least 6-foot drop protection (and good corner protection).

Do you want a clear case?

Clear cases are popular because they show off your phone (and its color). Clear cases, especially cheaper ones, can become less clear over time and slowly start to yellow. Many case makers now add UV protection to their clear cases to prevent yellowing. 

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How we test iPhone cases

Several of the cases on this list were available for previous models and we added them to the list based on our testing. Typically, we try to use the case on the phone for at least a day and make sure the buttons on the phone work properly with the case on. With some phone cases, we use them for several days or even weeks to see how they wear over time. 

  • Design: We evaluate the more superficial and cosmetic aspects of cases and consider how aesthetically pleasing they are because people sometimes buy cases solely for their colors and artwork. 
  • Durability: We look at how durable a case is, paying particular attention to corner and camera protection (raised corners on a case can help your phone survive face-down falls).
  • Grip factor: We review the material the case is made of so we can talk about such factors as how grippy the phone feels in your hand and how protective the material is. 
  • Extra features: Some iPhone cases have extra features such as MagSafe, an integrated kickstand or grips, and, in the case of folio models, slots for storing credit cards and cash.
  • Long-term testing: Although we don't do long-term testing for most cases, we do use some of the most popular cases for longer periods to gauge how they wear over time and see how well our phone holds up during accidental drops with the case on it. We don't do formal drop tests.
  • Waterproof cases: Only a few fully waterproof cases are available, but If the case is supposed to be fully waterproof, we test it by submerging it in water. 
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Other iPhone SE cases we've tested

Torras cases: Torras makes several cases with integrated kickstands, but they each have their own style of stand. They include the Lstand which has a retractable kickstand ring around the camera, the Pstand which has a flip-out kickstand on the bottom of the case, and the Ostand which has a retractable ring around the MagSafe ring. 

Inbeage case: Inbeage cases are made out of plant-based materials and are 100% biodegradable (over 3 years). They're not going to look and feel exactly like your typical silicone or hard plastic case and they are fairly basic. They offer decent drop protection and come in a variety of eye-catching designs. Better yet, they're affordable, costing around $19 and sometimes less (like now where there are some cases on sale 50% off) after you apply an instant coupon. Their one downside is they're not MagSafe-enabled (there's no built-in ring), but if you can live with that and are looking for an eco-friendly case, Inbeage is one of the best ones out there for the money.

Pitaka MagEZ Case 4: If you're looking for more serious protection from drops, this probably isn't the right case for you, particularly because it's rather expensive (between $60 and $70). If you're looking for a very slim, lightweight case, you should give it some consideration. It does come in a few different designs, some a little more eye-catching than others. All the cases are MagSafe-enabled using Pitaka's MagSafe SlimBoard technology.

Mujjo cases: Mujjo has been making attractive vegetable-tanned leather cases for the iPhone for a while and its cases for the iPhone SE include its standard Leather Case with MagSafe, a Leather Wallet Case with MagSafe and its tougher Shield case with MagSafe. They cost $50 to $60, although sometimes you can find them on sale for less on Amazon. They are currently on sale for $39 on Mujo.

SwitchEasy Roam M + Strap: I haven't tried SwitchEasy cases for a few generations of iPhones but I got a chance to test a few of its new cases for the iPhone SE that come with a crossbody strap, including the Roam + Strap and Odyssey Ultra M + Strap. Both feature excellent drop protection, but the Odyssey Ultra has even more elevated corner protection. They're both available in a few color options. 

Watch this: 2022 iPhone SE Disappoints in Drop Test
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iPhone SE case FAQ

Is Lightning charging an issue with some cases?

With most phone cases, the cutout for the Lightning port is wide enough to allow you to use most Lightning charging cables. Some off-brand Lightning charging cables with particularly large heads may not fit certain cases. The Lightning charging cable included with the iPhone SE has a relatively compact head, so this shouldn't be a problem. 

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How protective of an iPhone SE case should I buy?

I like cases that aren't too thick but offer decent drop protection, with a lip over the edge of the screen (sometimes referred to as a "screen bumper") and raised corners that help prevent your screen from cracking if your phone should fall face down. A folio case will more fully protect your screen. 

The good news is that you don't have to buy a super-protective iPhone SE case like the OtterBox Defender to get good protection. Most cases are reasonably thin and still offer at least 6-foot drop protection. I did include one very thin case on this list for those who prefer minimal protection. Before you go with a case like that, just remember how much your phone costs -- but it is better than having no case at all. Make sure you get a sound-tempered glass screen protector for your iPhone SE model to prevent deep scratches and safeguard the screen.

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Should I get a MagSafe case for my iPhone SE?

The iPhone SE 2nd generation released in 2020 and 3rd generation released in 2022 support Qi wireless charging -- but not Apple's signature MagSafe, which offers faster wireless charging with compatible chargers. This means an iPhone SE will not support optional accessories -- including MagSafe wallets, mini wallets and various mounts -- that adhere magnetically to the back of your phone. MagSafe is only available on the iPhone 12 and newer models -- not including the SE.

If you'd like to charge your phone using Qi wireless charging, be sure to buy a phone case that is thin enough to allow the electrical current to flow. MagSafe accessories, cases, and chargers simply won't stick to the back of the non-compatible iPhone SE.

If you already have a MagSafe iPhone -- or plan on buying MagSafe accessories in the future -- you'll want to get a MagSafe compatible case; it's a good option to have. With that in mind, the majority of the cases in this roundup are equipped with MagSafe. 

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Are MagSafe cases more expensive?

In general, yes -- about $10 more. Some more affordable MagSafe cases cost around $20, but most cost upward of $30. We see cases from certain companies that are essentially the same but one has MagSafe and the other doesn't, and the MagSafe version usually sells for $10 more. So, it may turn out that you'll end up dodging an extra $30 on a phone case by using your iPhone SE -- without MagSafe compatibility.


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