Five of the best: Rugged smartphone cases


August 22, 2014

Every case here should afford your Apple or Samsung smartphone some significant durability

Every case here should afford your Apple or Samsung smartphone some significant durability

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Over the years the smartphone has proved to be a fantastic and versatile tool, with uses ranging from music production to gaming. But one thing it’s rarely good at is looking after itself. If you’re regularly out and about, then you’ll likely want a case for your device that can offer it some serious protection. Read on as we highlight five great options for keeping your precious handset out of harm’s way.

Our goal here is to highlight five great cases that hit varying points of price an durability, giving you a better idea of which products tick the boxes you care about.

Thanks to their popularity, it’s easier to get your hands on rugged cases for an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S range of device than it is for other handsets, so we're focusing on cases that are available for the latest versions of these. Of course you'll find rugged cases for many other smartphones, but you might find your options a little more limited.

Lifeproof Fré

Lifeproof’s case is a great all-around choice, offering IP68 dust, dirt and water resistance. The case can be submerged in water at a depth of 6.6 ft (2 m) for up to an hour, and is drop-proof from a height of 6.6 ft (2 m).

The Fré doesn’t add as much bulk to your device as some other cases, with the iPhone 5/5s version measuring 0.49 in (12.45 mm) thick. The variant of the case for the Apple handset is also designed so you can still use the Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

Price: US$80

Versions: iPhone 4/4s/5/5s, Samsung Galaxy S5

Griffin Survivor

The Survivor is one of chunkiest cases here, coming in at 1.41 inches (36 mm) thick. The case is dust and dirt resistant and can be safely dropped from a height of 5.9ft (1.8 ft).

While the Survivor has been designed to resist heavy wind and rain, it’s not waterproof like some of the other options here. The accessory features a tab over the camera that can be pulled back to take clear shots, and Griffin has includes a detachable belt clip, though this does make the accessory even more chunky.

Compatibility with the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID fingerprint scanner varies depending on color selection.

Price: $50

Versions: iPhone 4/4s/5/5s, Samsung Galaxy S series

Gecko Rugged

Like the Survivor, the Gecko Rugged isn’t waterproof, but is sealed against splashes and dust. The polycarbonate case is available in a range of colors, and features drop protection up to a height of 6 ft (2 m).

It may not be the most fully-featured accessory here, but it’s a solid, comparatively low cost way of protecting your iPhone from the elements.

Price: $40

Versions: iPhone 5/5s

Otterbox Preserver

This case does exactly what its name implies, fully waterproofing your iPhone 5/5s or Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, up to a depth of 6.6 ft (2 m) for up to 30 minutes. Like most of the cases here, the Preserver is also drop-proof up to 6.6 ft (2 m), and includes an adjustable lanyard.

The Preserver's construction is solid, being built from a mixture of solid polycarbonate and synthetic rubber, with internal foam cushions for extra protection. The only downside here is that the iPhone 5s version doesn’t allow you to use the Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

Price: $90

Versions: iPhone 5/5s, Samsung Galaxy S4/S5

Incipio Atlas

Incipio’s case is another great all-around case, ticking boxes across the board with drop protection and IP68 dust and waterproofing. Like the rest of the waterproof cases here, the Atlas can be submerged in up to 6.6 ft (2 m) of water, but for different lengths of time depending on which version of the case you’re using.

The iPhone 5s (Atlas ID) and Samsung Galaxy S4 (Atlas S4) variants can be submerged for anything up to 30 minutes, while the iPhone 5 (Atlas) version can stay underwater for a full hour.

The case isn’t quite as thin as the Lifeproof Fré, but is one of the less bulky options, coming in at 0.62 inches ( mm).

Price: $80-90

Versions: iPhone 5/5s, Samsung Galaxy S4

The rest?

Any great Bear Grylls-worthy cases that we forgot? Of course there are more cases out there than there are phones, so drop us a note in the comments below to tell us what you love and why.
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Chris Wood Chris specializes in mobile technology for Gizmag, but also likes to dabble in the latest gaming gadgets. He has a degree in Politics and Ancient History from the University of Exeter, and lives in Gloucestershire, UK. In his spare time you might find him playing music, following a variety of sports or binge watching Game of Thrones. All articles by Chris Wood

Never dropped my phone until I got this case MAGPUL, no damage from a mid waist high toss, yeah very embarrassed stoopid foot trip, phone and case fine.My previous case had a Klingon skull look on the I4, alas I could not buy that for my I5, yes I inherit my Son's old phones, getting the 5S soon. Magpul rocks, not a nick

Bill Bennett

Well there is the Love Mei case, its waterproof, drop proof everything proof from my experience with it. I've tossed my phone while it had the case on it at a brick wall no damage. but it does make the phone a bit bulky


I cant find a single IP68 case out there for the nexus 5

Pranav Vissanji
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