Mobile news

What material is best for your smartphone case?

Key Takeaways

  • The right phone case is crucial for protecting your device from damage, and the material used plays a significant role in its durability and functionality.
  • Plastic cases made from TPU or PC offer good value, durability, and customization options, but poorly made ones may not provide adequate protection.
  • Silicone cases are inexpensive and provide a solid grip but are less durable than TPU or PC cases and can attract dust and turn yellow over time. Rubber cases offer extra shock absorption but may also turn yellow and aren’t as durable. Leather and wood cases are aesthetically pleasing but less protective and require maintenance.

Only a few things are as frustrating as a phone with a shattered screen or a broken back panel, which is why it’s extremely crucial to pick the right phone case. Deciding the type of case to protect your new Android phone or an iPhone is only half the battle, as the longevity of that particular case depends on various other factors including the material used. That’s right, not all phone cases are made equal, and the overall durability depends primarily on the material used for it. It’s important to pick the material to ensure the best protection and safety for your device, so let’s take a look at a few options to help you find the best one.

Plastic – TPU & PC cases

Supcase Unicorn Beetle (5)

Plastic cases are among the most popular options out there when it comes to phone cases as they tend to offer the best value for your money with the right mix of durability, design, and functionality. Most plastic cases on the market are made of either Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or polycarbonate (PC). TPU is more on the softer and flexible side, whereas polycarbonate cases are hard and rigid. Plastic cases are perfect for those who want a solid case that offers good protection without adding too much thickness or bulk to the device.

Plastic cases — though not as affordable as silicone or rubber cases — are still cheaper than something like leather, and they’re also very customizable as they can molded very easily into different shapes. Not all plastic cases are made to last for a long time though, and a lot of poorly made plastic cases might shatter on impact or may not offer the best grip or in-hand feel. I’ve highlighted some good options below from the likes of Supcase and Caseology, which offer plenty of great plastic cases that are made up of either TPU or PC, or a blend of both.

supcase unicorn beetle pro case for galaxy z fold 5

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro Case for Galaxy Z Fold 5

Promoted Pick

In partnership with Supcase

With a rugged shockproof case, an included glass screen protector, and even a belt clip, the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro offers complete protection for your smartphone. They’re made out of polycarbonate and are available for various devices.

A render showing the Caseology Parallax case for Galaxy S23 Ultra in green color.

Caseology Parallax case for Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best PC case

$18 $27 Save $9

With a rugged shockproof case, an included glass screen protector, and even a belt clip, the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro offers complete protection for your smartphone. They’re made out of polycarbonate and are available for various devices.

Silicone cases

An image showing a silicone clear case with yellow tint on it.

Silicone is also a popular material that’s used by various manufacturers to dish out phone cases. These cases are often inexpensive, available in a number of different colors, and they also provide solid grip when you’re holding the phone in hand. Silicone cases are readily available even for the best phones out there, and they’re good for those who are looking for a relatively simple-looking cases for some basic protection.

Silicone cases can be had for cheap, but they aren’t as durable as TPU or PC cases, and they tend to attract a lot of dust, debris, and other natural grease and oil over time, affecting their overall look and feel. These cases are also the ones that easily turn yellow over time, causing permanent cosmetic damage. Silicone cases, as you probably already know, are also flexible, meaning they may stretch out over time and start to slip of the device.


Apple Silicone Case for iPhone 15 Pro

Silicone cases offer a soft and smooth texture, but they don’t offer the best protection against shock and drops. These cases aren’t nearly as durable as the plastic cases either.

Rubber cases

The thick rubber bumpers on the Peak Design Everyday Case.

Photo: Brady Snyder

Rubber cases are very similar in look and feel to the silicone cases, but they provide extra shock absorption and grip. This is one of the main reasons why you may have seen rubber being used as an additional material in TPU and PC cases as a shock absorption layer, as opposed to being used as a primary material. And like silicone cases, rubber cases may also turn yellow over time and may not be as durable as other materials. The cases that are entirely made out of rubber alone aren’t necessarily the most durable option, so it’s recommended that you look for TPU or PC cases that incorporates rubber.

An image showing the OtterBox Symmetry case for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in green color.

OtterBox Symmetry case for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Synthetic rubber

This OtterBox Symmetry case is made out of synthetic rubber, and it offers great shock absorption against impacts.

Leather and wood cases

An image showing the Apple leather case for the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max in blue color.

The cases that are made of materials like leather and wood look great and are aesthetically pleasing, but they aren’t nearly as durable or protective as other materials like TPU or PCs. Wood is prone to cracking very easily, and leather cases require a lot of maintenance. These cases also tend to be more expensive than regular plastic or silicone cases, but they may not provide as much protection against impacts. They’re good for those who are looking for a case that is unique with a natural look and feel, but there are downsides to it when it comes to the overall protection and durability.


Bellroy Leather Case for Google Pixel 8 Pro

Leather case

If you’re looking for a premium way to protect and style your smartphone, then leather cases are great. They’re often made of sophisticated leather material, and include things like microfiber lining. You can also get them in a bunch of different colors.

Closing thoughts

There’s no shortage of materials on the market when it comes to phone cases, and choosing the right one depends on a combination of personal preferences and usage. The case material not only affects the protection of your smartphone, but it also impacts things like its grip, the overall look and feel, and its functionality. I recommend sticking with Polycarbonate (PC) or Thermoplastic Polyurethene (TPU) cases if you’re looking for the best protection and fit for your phone. Plenty of manufacturers, like SUPCASE, Spigen, and UAG, dish out some reliable and solid plastic cases that not only offer the best protection, but also great and add more functionality to your device.

An image showing Supcase UB Pro clear case installed on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro case for iPhone 15 Pro Max

Promoted Pick

In partnership with Supcase

With a rugged shockproof case, an included glass screen protector, and even a belt clip, the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro offers complete protection for your smartphone. The clear version is made from polycarbonate and is available for various devices.

Alternatively, you can also consider rubber and silicone phone cases if you don’t mind giving up on some durability in favor of things like, say, different color options and a relatively affordable price tag. Both silicone and rubber cases, however, may turn yellow over time, so keep that in mind. You can also choose to go with something unique like leather or wood, but those cases are mostly good for only those who prioritize style and premium feel over protection against heavy impact.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.