iPhone 5 silicone case roundup

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Accessories, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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Protecting an iPhone can be serious business, but if you spend your days in a boardroom rather than on a construction site, you probably don’t want your iPhone looking like a truck tire. Ruggedized cases offer the absolute in protection, but they can be bulky and a bit over the top if you just want your iPhone to be safe from the occasional fall from a desk or tumble down the stairs, rather than being dropped from thousands of feet.

Ruggedized cases can look like accessories for monster truck rallies, but these silicone cases offer a good tradeoff between serious protection and style, keeping both your iPhone and your image stylishly safe. Although not all the cases are made exclusively of silicone, they offer the same soft-touch, durable, and protective properties.

STM Opera

STM Opera

STM’s opera case offers the thinnest form factor of this group, adding just millimeters of lightly flexible polyurethane to the back and sides of your iPhone. A lightly raised texture on the back and slip resistant sides enhance grip, while the thinness of the case allows you to slide an Opera-clad iPhone into a tight pocket, purse, or bag.

Although the case offers protection from bumps, scratches, and drops, there are large cutouts for the camera and volume buttons, as well as a large cutout on the bottom exposing the speakers, headphone jack, and Lightning connector.  The screen is also exposed, though slightly raised edges frame the screen and offer some protection if dropped on a flat surface.

The Opera case is perfect for discrete protection, as it does not have a ruggedized appearance but still offers a shock-absorbing construction. Available in black, grey, white, pink, or blue, the STM Opera is available for $30.

Cygnett Bulldozer

Cygnett Bulldozer

As its name implies, Cygnett’s Bulldozer leans more toward the rugged end of the iPhone case spectrum, with a design that recalls a bulldozer tread. This case still looks good off a construction site, however, as it has a slim profile and does not have extra ruggedized features like protruding corner protectors or a fully sealed case.

There are cutouts for the camera and mute switch as well as small slits for the headphone jack, speaker, and Lighting connector, though the lower cutout is bridged by two strips of rubber on either side of the Lightning port (offering extra protection in the event of a drop).  The Bulldozer also comes with a static cling screen protector; while offering additional scratch protection, some users may find the application of the screen protector and any resulting bubbles to be irritating (its use is optional). The raised edges also frame the iPhone’s screen completely, offering enhanced drop protection.

The Cygnett Bulldozer can be had in orange or black, and at only $20 this is one of the better, cheaper options for iPhone protection!

X-Doria Shield

x-doria Shield

The X-Doria Shield wins several superlatives for this case roundup:

  • Most color choices available: grey+orange, blue+yellow, white+grey, blue+teal, and black+grey.
  • Most comprehensive protection: a three-stage rigid plastic, soft silicone, and rigid polycarbonate touchscreen cover.
  • Most complete coverage: the only things exposed on your iPhone are the speaker and microphone, unless you flip open the doors for the mute rocker, headphone jack, or Lightning Connector. Even the camera is covered by a polycarbonate shield!
  • Most expensive: at $40, X-Doria’s Shield line is the most expensive case, but it does offer the highest level of protection.

For iPhone users who may find the occasional splash of water, cloud of dirt, or other occupational hazard threatening their gadget, the Shield is a clear winner; the polycarbonate front shield is infinitely easier to apply than static cling screen protectors, and its touchscreen performance is still excellent.

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