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While rugged phones like Cat’s S41 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Active are great smartphone choices for those in construction and the trades, the vast majority of workers and operators on jobsites around the country are using iPhones and Android phones that require a bit of protection in order to make it through the rigors of the job in once piece.
As we do each year, we’ve rounded up our top picks in smartphone protection. The roundup includes battery cases, thin cases and waterproof cases. Check them out below.
Before we get into the actual cases, if your phone will be frequenting a jobsite each day, it’s probably a good idea to install a tempered glass screen protector over the display.
These screen protectors protect your display from scratches but also do a pretty good job of preventing the screen from cracking in the event of a drop. And because they’re glass they don’t have that awful sticky/plasticky feel of the old film protectors.
My personal favorite brand is amFilm. These can be found on Amazon for a wide variety of phones and devices and usually include two screen protectors for under $10. (Best Buy and most carriers charge upwards of $30 for these screen protectors.) In fact, amFilm’s iPhone X screen protector pack comes with three of these shields for just $8 and they come with a nice plastic frame that serves as a guide for easy drop-in installation. And all of these amFilm packs include plenty of stickers so you can use the hinge method of applying your screen protector.
Anker Karapax Touch
Anker’s Karapax Touch checks a lot of boxes in what iPhone owners are looking for in a case: decent protection of the whole device, affordable and not bulky. This case goes for around $10-$12 on Amazon, has a review average of 4.5 stars and has a grippy, flexible semi-transparent design.
In addition to protecting all sides of the phone, the Karapax Touch feels secure in the hand, writes the Wirecutter: “The back panel is somewhat slick, making it easy to slide in and out of pockets, while the edges have a grippier, rubbery texture.”
Apple Smart Battery Case
If you have an iPhone 6/6S/7/8 Plus model, you probably don’t need a battery case since Apple’s phablet gets great battery life on its own. But if your iPhone 6S, 7 or 8 can’t quite get your through a full day without needing a charge, we highly recommend Apple’s Smart Battery Case.
This $100 case doubles the battery life of your iPhone and earns the “Smart” in its name by both letting you charge the case and phone through a single port and by exhausting the battery inside the case before using your phone’s battery at all. In other words, the case doesn’t charge your phone like, say, a case from Mophie. It acts as a backup battery for your phone.
Plus, the Smart Battery Case is made with a nice silicone material that provides a nice grip and a decent amount of protection.
Mophie Juice Pack cases
If you own an Android phone, your best bet for a quality battery case is Mophie. And though these aren’t quite as “smart” as Apple’s battery case, they do offer a bit more protection and have a handy charge indicator.
Dog and Bone Wetsuit Impact
Though LifeProof’s cases are likely the most well-known waterproof cases for smartphones, there are better options out there. One that comes highly recommended from several outlets, including the Wirecutter, is Dog and Bone’s Wetsuit Impact. These are available for both the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones and is among the most thin waterproof cases you can buy.
Dog and Bone says the Wetsuit Impact is designed to output better sound clarity than competitors while offering access to all buttons and functions with water, dust and shock protection.
If you’re looking for drop protection that doesn’t compromise your iPhone 7/8’s thinness, look no further than the Caudabe Sheath. This case comes highly recommended from several reviewers and is manufactured from what Caudabe calls “ShockLite,” a gel-like polymer that absorbs the impact from drops. Protection of the device is also enhanced with shielding around the camera and flash, edges that wrap around the phone and a lip that extends just above the screen in the event of a face-down tumble.
Speck Presidio Grip
If you’re looking for a case with great drop protection that isn’t bulky, it’s hard to do better than Speck’s Presidio Grip. This case features two layers of protection: a polycarbonate outer shell and a shock-absorbing inner barrier. On top of great drop protection, the Presidio Grip also has rubber treads on the outer shell that make the case extremely grippy so you’re less likely to drop it in the first place.
The Grip is available for both iPhone (including the 8 and X) and Android devices.
i-Blason’s ArmorBox comes in a wide range of colors for a variety of phones and can be had for around $20 on Amazon. This dual-layer case features a hard shell exterior, a shock-absorbing TPU inner core and plenty of extra padding around the corners for all around protection against drops. It also features a built-in screen protector and a mount for a belt clip.
The ArmorBox is available for both iPhone and Android devices.
Like the ArmorBox, the UAG Plasma is available for iPhone and Android devices and features dual-layer protection and ample protection around the corners of the device. The main difference here is looks and price, with the Plasma averaging about $30 on Amazon though with many more reviews from happy users. Plus, the folks at iMore were really impressed with the feel of this case saying “The button coverings are exceptional and the tactile feedback is as though there’s no case at all.” Pretty impressive for a rugged case.