Most iPhone cases will protect your phone from the odd scratches and bumps. But if you work outdoors or in an occupation with lots of potential for impact damage, or moisture and dirt getting into the phone’s ports, then a tough, rugged iPhone 5 case becomes a necessity. Also, if you just have a tendency to drop your phone while on the morning commute to work, there’s cases that specialize in protecting your phones from those hazardous (and expensive) drops.
Here’s we’ll detail each case’s protection, bulk, and price. If you’re looking for military grade protection on your case, there’s a case for that. If you want to be able to throw your phone off a 23 story building and have it survive, there’s a case for that too (seriously. Video evidence below…).
3 Things to Look for when buying Rugged iPhone 5 Cases:
- Impact Protection:Some cases, like the Case-Mate Tough, are designed to protect your iPhone 5 from a drop on the sidewalk. Other cases, like the Griffin Survivor, could probably survive a truck driving over it. You have to decide what degree of protection is right for your unique circumstances.
- Water-Resistant vs. Water-proof:This is a very big difference. The Otterbox Defender is water resistant and will keep your case dry during a rainfall, but you don’t want to go snorkeling with it. Other case makers like Lifeproof tout that their cases are waterproof. We will highlight the best waterproof cases at the bottom of this page.
- Design vs. Bulk:
The iPhone 5 is a thin, sleek phone. The more you protect your phone, though, the larger and bulkier the cases are. There’s a trade-off where protection comes at the cost of design, and this list will help you figure out which phone is right for you.
1. Otterbox Defender Series iPhone 5 Case
Otterbox’s flagship phone case is the gold standard for impact, dirt and moisture protection. It comes with three layers of protection: an outer bumper, an impact resistant outer shell and a softer inner shell to cushion the phone. It has raised buttons for power and volume that fit over your iPhone’s buttons, as well as covered ports that keep your phone away from any dirt or moisture. It comes with it’s own screen protector and belt holster. It more than doubles the size of the iPhone 5, so it’s definitely on the side of ‘protective’ rather than ‘stylish’. But when your phone is in this, you will have peace of mind that pretty much nothing can hurt your phone.
Click here for our full Otterbox Defender iPhone 5 Case Review
2. Gumdrop Drop Tech Series iPhone 5 Case
Whereas the Otterbox Defender is designed to protect against pretty much everything, the Gumdrop Drop Tech has one specialty in mind: protecting your iPhone even when you drop it. It has reinforced corners (where most of the damage tends to be done) that cushion your phone by spreading out the energy from a drop. It’s smaller and thinner than the Defender (although it is by no means “slim”). It also come with a screen protector included as well as port covers to keep your phone dirt and moisture free.
3. Case-Mate Touch Xtreme iPhone 5 Case
Case-Mate’s approach with their “Tough” and “Tough Xtreme” cases is to create maximum impact protection while still showcasing the slim design of your iPhone 5. Think of it as a sophisticated, fashionable case with a lot of reinforcement built into it for the occasional drop on the sidewalk. The case covers the back and sides of the phone, but doesn’t full enclose your phone the way the other rugged cases do. It has the same dual layers protection but for the most part you aren’t even aware that it’s there. For a lot of people, that’s just what a case should be.
4. Otterbox Commuter Series iPhone 5 Case
Like the name implies, the Otterbox Commuter is meant more for the city dweller who wants to protect their phone from accidental drops on the train or bus. The case is smaller than the Otterbox Defender, although still not as small as Case-Mate’s Xtreme case. It does differ from Case-Mate in that the case completely encompasses the phone: an included screen protector, port covers and raised buttons. If you find the Defender too bulky but still want a crazy amount of protection on your case from dirt and moisture, then the Otterbox Commuter is for you.
Click here to read our full review for the Otterbox Commuter Series iPhone 5 Case.
5. Griffin Survivor iPhone 5 Case
The Griffin Survivor Case is actually the most protective of all the cases on this list. How protective? Griffin touts this case as military grade protection. So why is it number 5 on this list? For the sheer size of it. This is the largest case on this list, even bigger than the bulky Otterbox Defender. If you have small hands, then even using your iPhone becomes difficult because you’re trying to reach around the large case. If heavy duty protection is your absolute number one priority, then the Griffin Survivor can literally go through hell and back with you.
Click here to read the full review for the Griffin Survivor iPhone 5 Case.
If you didn’t find the right heavy duty case for your needs, check out the Rugged iPhone 5 Case section of our store. We have many more cases available as well as a price comparison feature where you can which retailer has the best price for your case right now.