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The best iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cases: Protect your new phone

Thin cases, protective cases, leather cases, and more -- here are the best iPhone 12 cases of 2023.
Written by Sherin Shibu, Contributor
Reviewed by Emery Wright
Pela case | Best iPhone 12 case overall
pela-cases
Pela case
Best iPhone 12 case overall
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Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe | Best MagSafe iPhone 12 case
Image of Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe overlayed on a light gray background.
Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe
Best MagSafe iPhone 12 case
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Bodyguardz Ace Pro | Best budget iPhone 12 case
bodyguardz-ace-pro
Bodyguardz Ace Pro
Best budget iPhone 12 case
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Casetify cases | Best customizable iPhone 12 case
Image of iPhone 12s in Casetify cases.
Casetify cases
Best customizable iPhone 12 case
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ESR Air Armor | Best clear iPhone 12 case
esr-air-armor
ESR Air Armor
Best clear iPhone 12 case
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Incipio Organicore | Best eco-friendly iPhone 12 case
incipio-organicore
Incipio Organicore
Best eco-friendly iPhone 12 case
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Nomad Rugged case | Best leather iPhone 12 case
Nomad/ZDNET
Nomad Rugged case
Best leather iPhone 12 case
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Speck Presidio Edition | Best iPhone 12 case for drop protection
Sepck/ZDNET
Speck Presidio Edition
Best iPhone 12 case for drop protection
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Totallee case | Best slim iPhone 12 case
totallee-case
Totallee case
Best slim iPhone 12 case
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Show more (4 items)

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max may not be the latest smartphones from Apple, but iPhones offer impressive specs and still require a hefty investment. 

There is a lot to protect with this iPhone, including the 6.1-inch OLED display and dual rear cameras. Even though the phone has an IP68 dust and water-resistance rating, you probably want additional protection around your top-notch device.

Protective cases for the iPhone 12 series range widely in price, style, color, and functionality. Some cases are designed to offer protection from the elements while others are more style-oriented. You may be looking for basic scratch protection, MagSafe compatibility, or even customizability. I rounded up the best cases for the iPhone 12 series for a variety of preferences and price points.

Also: Which iPhone is right for you and how do the different models compare?

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Made from flax plants
  • Drop-proof protection guarantee
  • Compostable
  • 80% less waste production
  • Waste-free, plastic-free packaging
  • Protects your phone
  • Free shipping to the US and Canada
Cons
  • Slightly pricey
More Details

Pela cases are made of Flaxstic, a plastic alternative made of flax straw that's non-toxic and free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium, and lead. The material is soft to the touch, flexible, and able to survive a 20-foot drop test. That means Pela cases are both shock-absorbing and biodegradable. And when you no longer need it, you can send it back to Pela. The company will turn it into a new product or compost it to promote a circular economy. The case is also packaged in recycled paper material (no plastic!).

A Pela case costs about $60, and Pela justifies the cost by noting that raw materials and manufacturing costs are four times higher than that of plastic. Plus, the phone case has been verified by third-party labs, and the manufacturing process is more ethical. Shipping is free to Canada and the US.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Perfect fit
  • Same color options as phone
  • MagSafe support
Cons
  • Pricier
More Details

Sometimes it's worth it to buy a protective case from same company that manufactured your phone. The employees know the iPhone better than anyone else, after all. 

The Apple silicone case is the best silicone case available for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. It features a silky silicone exterior with a soft microfiber lining on the inside. Connecting to wireless charging is effortless, because the case has built-in magnets that perfectly align with MagSafe charging. 

If you prefer a different finish, the leather case is available for $17 more. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Drop protection up to 10 feet
  • Slim design
  • 100% recyclable packaging
  • Compatible with wireless charging
  • Shock absorbing corners
Cons
  • Clear design may yellow
More Details

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro can be delicate, especially because the front and back materials are glass. BodyGuardz offers protective cases with considerable drop protection -- while keeping prices under $20.

The Bodyguardz Ace Pro stands out for its 10-foot drop protection, slim design, and strong impact protection with shock-absorbing corners. This case is also surprisingly affordable, priced at less than $11. It comes in 100% recyclable packaging and is compatible with wireless charging, too. 

The back of the case is transparent, which could lead to yellowing down the line. However, for the price point, this case offers solid protection.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Personalization
  • Add some drop protection
  • Option to buy recycled
  • Wireless charging compatible
Cons
  • Shipping can take up to 12 business days for US orders and up to 23 business days for non-US orders
More Details

Casetify cases fit well, protect your phone, and can be easily customized. You can enter up to 12 characters to with your choice from six fonts, four layouts, and 17 colors. There are also dozens of case color and texture options for some of the models.

Drop protection varies from case to case, but I love the ability to customize my iPhone -- I carry it every day, after all! Cases range in price depending on which iPhone 12 model you have. You can choose from eco-friendly recycled cases (Re/CASETiFY) and new options according to particular brands or themes.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Only $14
  • Military-grade drop protection
  • Shock-absorbing corners
  • Compatible with wireless charging
Cons
  • May still yellow over time
More Details

Finally, a clear case that doesn't yellow with time! The ESR Air Armor is available in crystal clear for only $14, while other colors like black, blue, and frosted frame, are under $17. 

The Air Armor offers military-grade shock absorption, scratch resistance, screen and camera protection, and compatibility with wireless charging. The crystal clear hard back meets shock-absorbing corners and a flexible frame. The case has been tested to withstand over 1,000 drops from a height of up to 8 ft. Plus, it's easy to put on and take off. 

The ESR metal kickstand case is also the best affordable case I've found with a kickstand. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Compostable
  • Affordable (around $10)
  • 8-foot drop protection
  • 100% compostable
  • Slim profile
Cons
  • Price varies
More Details

The Incipio Organicore is 100% compostable, so buying the case doesn't mean creating more trash for the future. It dissolves completely when disposed of properly in a degradable environment. The case consists of a durable blend of plant-based materials, and it's designed to offer maximum protection.

It has drop protection up to 8 feet and an extended height raised-edge bezel that surrounds your screen in impact protection. The iPhone is also MagSafe and wireless charging compatible. It comes in different colors, including eucalyptus, charcoal, and natural.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Leather that ages gracefully
  • Compatible with MagSafe
  • 10-foot drop protection
  • Ultra-durable
Cons
  • May show scratches easily
More Details

Nomad offers a few case options ranging in price from from $50 to $70 and ZDNET's Matthew Miller spent time with a couple of the cases. If you're interested in a Horween leather case that ages well over time and looks great, then Nomad is definitely one of the best options to consider. The Horween leather case is sourced from Horween Leather Company and has a buttery surface that develops a unique patina over time. It costs $50 and offers 10-foot drop protection.

The case is compatible with MagSafe wireless charging and allows you to attach a wrist strap easily at two different attachment points. The drop protection comes from the polycarbonate body of the case, an internal shock absorption bumper, an exterior TPU bumper, and a full rubber frame, 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Drop protection up to 13 feet
  • Antimicrobial protection
  • Slim design
  • Clear option
  • Raised bezel
  • Wireless charging compatible
Cons
  • Fingerprints may show up easily
  • Colors may not be vibrant against a darker color phone
More Details

The Speck Presidio is a perfectly clear case that offers up to 13 feet of drop protection. This is how it works: When you drop your phone, the clear impact technology of the Speck case compresses on impact, absorbing shock, and protecting your phone. Speck's Perfect-Clear coating works against discoloration and yellowing to keep your case in clear condition. If you notice yellowing or discoloration, you can send your phone case back to Speck for a free replacement. 

Speck's Microban technology means that the case inhibits up to 99% of bacteria growth. The drop protection and antimicrobial factor meet in a slim case that you can easily hook up to wireless charging.

Miller also tested the stylish Speck Presidio 2 Armor Cloud for the iPhone 12. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Subtle
  • Scratch protection
  • MagSafe compatible
  • Camera lens protection
  • Currently on sale for $19
Cons
  • No drop protection
  • Original price ($39) is too expensive for what it is
More Details

Totallee phone cases are super thin, adding only 0.03 inches to the thickness of your iPhone. The ultra-slim design is ideal for those who want everyday protection from scratches and bumps without compromising the slimness of the phone. 

The case has a camera lens "lip" to make sure that the camera does not get scratched. Other than that, it offers minimal protection. It usually goes for $39, but currently, select colors/styles are on sale for $19. 

What is the best iPhone case?

The best iPhone 12 case is the Pela case, chosen for its environmental safety, drop protection, biodegradable quality, and tactile feel. In the table below, I compare price to drop protection level for each case above.

Best iPhone 12 case

Price

Drop Protection

Pela case

$60

20 feet

Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe

$43

Unspecified

Bodyguardz Ace Pro

$11

10 feet

Casetify cases

$52

9.8 feet

ESR Air Armor

$14

8 feet

Incipio Organicore

$10

8 feet

Nomad Rugged case

$25

10 feet

Speck Products Presidio Edition

$23

13 feet

Totallee case

$19

Unspecified

Which iPhone case is right for you?

Each case on this list has unique pros and cons. One case might be a better choice for you, depending on the features you can't live without. 

Choose this iPhone 12 case...

If you want...

Pela case

The best biodegradable iPhone 12 case for drop production

Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe

The best silicone case with optimized MagSafe compatibility

Bodyguardz Ace Pro

The best budget case with drop protection up to 10 feet

Casetify cases

The best customizable case with eco-friendly options

ESR Air Armor

The best clear case with military grade drop protection

Incipio Organicore

The best eco-friendly, compostable case

Nomad Rugged case

The best leather case that ages well over time

Speck Products Presidio Edition

The best slim iPhone 12 case

Totallee case

The best ultra thin case that protects your phone and camera from nicks and scratches

What should I look for in an iPhone case?

If you've invested in a top-notch smartphone like an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro, you'll likely want to protect it. There are many features you can look for, but I consider protection, size, style, and features the most important:

  • Protection: Drop protection is extremely important when it comes to an iPhone case. Chances are, it's the main reason why you have one. We all drop our phones from time to time, and it's a relief when we can walk away damage-free. When you think about the best case for your phone, make sure to palce drop protection at the forefront.
  • Size: Some iPhone users prefer maintaining the slim contours of their phones, while others don't mind sacrificing slimness for added protection. On the sliding scale of slim to extremely bulky, where does your ideal case fall?
  • Style: Custom cases, like Casetify cases, emphasize personalization, while cases made of leather or compostable materials emphasize lifestyle choices or texture preferences. Your phone case can be a reflection of you and your values. Make sure to choose a case that feels good and looks good -- chances are, you'll be looking at it a lot. 
  • Features: The cases on this list come with a number of added features, including antimicrobial protection and MagSafe compatibility. 

Does wireless charging work with a case?

Wireless charging does work with phone cases. Almost all of the cases on this list are MagSafe-compatible. Usually, cases with a slimmer profile are more likely to be compatible. Most cases specify whether or not they are MagSafe-compatible, so make sure to check out the product specifications to verify if wireless charging works with the case of your choice.  

Which case is best for iPhone 12?

The Pela case is my favorite because it combines drop protection with environmental friendliness and durability. The flax-based material is unique and 100% compostable -- and the case protects your phone from drops of up to 20 feet. It comes in a variety of colors and ships free to the United States and Canada in plastic-free packaging. 

Is OtterBox good for iPhone 12?

Yes. OtterBox cases are durable, and I added an OtterBox option to my list of favorite alternatives. Some OtterBox lines are made with partially recycled materials. You can also alter the bulkiness of your OtterBox, depending on how much protection you need.

What is the safest case for iPhone 12 Pro?

The Pela case is made out of non-toxic materials and has been tested for safety. It's free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium, and lead and is verified to meet child safety standards in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. You can compost it in a home composting environment or an industrial composting facility. Each case on this list keeps your phone safe to varying degrees.

Do you need a case for iPhone 12?

Apple markets the iPhone 12 as durable enough to handle tough use. However, if you want to avoid scratches and cracks, you need a case. The iPhone is slick, which means it's easy to drop. You can survive without a case, but if you want to keep your iPhone in the best shape possible, you should go with a case.

Are there alternative iPhone 12 cases worth considering?

Of course. Here are a few options to consider.

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