What Is The Best Cell Phone Case Material?

There are so many choices in cell phone cases. While appearance may be one of the first things you consider when looking at a case, you may also think about your phone’s safety, ease of use and extra features.

That leads many people to ask, “What is the best cell phone case material?” The answer to that question really depends on what you’re looking for in a case. We review some of the pros and cons of cell phone cases made of common materials, including plastic, silicone, leather, wood and metal.

Plastic

Pick a cell phone case at random, and chances are it’s made of plastic. Plastic is everywhere in our lives, and cell phone cases are no exception.

There are several types of plastic commonly used in cell phone cases. These days the most popular is polycarbonate, an extremely hard plastic that is also used to make bulletproof windows and many other items. Polypropylene is a hard plastic often used to make protective cases.

Polyurethane is the most versatile of the plastics used to craft cell phone cases. It can be hard or soft, and it can be shaped using a variety of different mold types. Polyurethane is easy to recycle, and you can sometimes find cell phone cases made with recycled products. Vinyl is another type of plastic that is often used to make cell phone skins, the very thin cell phone covers that are used more for decoration than protection.

Plastic cell phone cases are the most likely to have wild patterns, blingy extras like rhinestones and jewels, and cool features like kickstand (which makes it easier to watch movies and videos on your smartphone).

Pros

  • Makes great protective cases
  • More affordable than many other types of material
  • Comes in a variety of colors and styles
  • Easy to grip and hold
  • Most likely to have extra features like bling and kickstands
  • Some plastic cases and pouches are waterproof and dustproof

Cons

  • Not a sustainable material
  • May have a strange smell
  • Plastic cases without some type of cushioning material may not do a good job of protecting your phone
  • Can look cheap and tacky

Silicone

Silicone is a soft material made from a mixture of petroleum products and silicon, a naturally-occurring material found in sand and quartz. Some people consider it a safer alternative to plastic. It’s a soft, flexible material that makes terrific protective cases. It can also be quite sticky, which can make it tough to clean.

Pros

  • Makes great protective cases
  • More affordable than many other types of material
  • Comes in a variety of colors and styles
  • Very easy to grip and hold

Cons

  • Difficult to clean
  • Can have a cheap or unattractive appearance

Carbon fiber

Carbon fiber is just what it sounds like. Manufacturers take strands of carbon and weave them together to make a material that is stronger than steel (even though it weighs much less). Even though it’s a relatively new material, it’s used to make everything from cars and bicycles to fishing rods and cell phone cases.

What you won’t find in carbon fiber cases is much variety in color and appearance. But for people who like the sleek, futuristic look of this material, that may not matter.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Very strong
  • Attractive

Cons

  • More expensive than plastic
  • Not available in a wide array of colors and patterns

 

Leather and synthetic leather

Real leather is made from the hide of cows and other animals. Synthetic leather is made from different types of plastic, most commonly polyurethane and polyester. Both can feel very soft, although synthetic leather is not as durable (and isn’t as much of a status symbol). Some phones (most notably the new LG G4) now come with leather backs.

 

Leather and synthetic leather cases are popular with flip phones, but you can also find smartphone cases made with these materials. Leather is also a popular choice for cell phone wallet pouch case covers. These trendy new items hold your cell phone and other essential items like credit cards. You can also get leather purses and travel bags designed specifically for carrying cell phones and smartphones.

 

Pros

  • Looks great and never goes out of style
  • Feels great in your hand
  • Very easy to grip and hold

 

Cons

  • Can be more expensive
  • While it may protect your phone from scratches, it won’t do a great job of protecting it from breaking if it falls
  • Made from animal skin, so not a good choice for everyone
  • It can be challenging to tell real leather from fake leather

 

Wood

Wood cell phone cases are a bit of a novelty item. They aren’t widely available in stores, although you can easily find manufacturers online. Many wood cell phone case producers specialize in bamboo, which is considered a “green” or sustainable material. However, you can also buy cell phone cases made with cherry, redwood and other types of wood. If you want a cell phone case with a custom design etched in the back, wood may be your best choice.

 

Pros

  • Very attractive
  • Highly customizable
  • Often made by small companies rather than multi-national corporations
  • Easy to grip and hold
  • Bamboo and certain woods are considered more sustainable than plastic

 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not widely available
  • May not have protective features like a cushioning layer to protect your phone from falls

 

Metal

Many cell phones, including the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6, have metal bodies. So it makes sense that you can get metal bodied cell phone cases as well. Aluminum is the most common metal used in cell phone cases. You can also purchase cell phone cases made with titanium, brass and precious metals like gold.

 

Metal cases do a great job of protecting cell phones from falls and scratches. However, there have been multiple reports of metal cases interfering with the signal on the iPhone 6. Think carefully and read the reviews you before you buy a metal case.

 

Pros

  • Very strong – will do a great job of protecting your phone if it is dropped
  • Modern and sleek-looking

 

Cons

  • Type of case most likely to block your cell phone signal
  • More expensive than other types of cases
  • Slippery and difficult to hold

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