Cell phone cases provide the necessary protection which helps in preserving the phones appearance while minimizing the wear and tear. There are a variety of materials used for cell phone cases, each with its merits and demerits.
The most popular materials are: metal, wood, plastic, leather and fiber. For most users, the choice of material is largely influenced by factors such as: appearance, environment, ease of use, budget, and protection from impact and scratches.
To help you decide on what is the best cell phone case material for your gadget, we have a compiled a list of the commonly used materials alongside their benefits and limitations.
Plastic Cell Phone Cases
Plastics are one of the most used, inexpensive and durable materials for cell phone cases. A plastic cell phone case adds style and personality to the phone while protecting it from scratches, bumps, cracks, chips and breakages from minor falls.
There are numerous types of plastic materials for mobile phone cases, with the most popular being the polyurethane and the polycarbonate.
Polyurethane Cell Phone Cases
The polyurethane is an inexpensive cell phone case material often available in either soft or hard form. The plastic material is readily molded into a desired shape and is easy to recycle. Due to the ease of molding, the cell phone case made from the plastic can have many customized designs and patterns.
- Easy to customize, decorate and add extra features.
- Easy to hold, grip, or slide into a pulse or pocket
- Offers good protection
- Readily available
- Cheap look
- Smells strange
- Not sustainable
- Requires cushioning material in order to provide sufficient protection
- Less durable
- Rigid and likely to crack or break if it hits a hard surface or object.
Polycarbonate Cell Phone Cases
Polycarbonate is a tough, durable, and lightweight plastic material which provides maximum protection against drops. Due to its strength, the material is suitable for a variety of strong products such as: bullet proof glass, storage containers and eyeglasses.
Checkout our Polycarbonate iPhone Cases here.
Optional coatings or additives are usually added on the material to protect it from degradation by UV rays as well scratches. Polycarbonate cases are suitable for protecting cell phones against heavy drops up to 20 feet.
- Immense strength
- High impact resistance
- Resistance to chipping, cracking and scratches
- Tends to change colors due to prolonged exposure to sunlight
- A bit bulky
- Not stylish
- Gets dirty easily and likely to acquire grease, sweat and fingerprints which may make the phone look less polished
Carbon Fibre Cell Phone Cases
The carbon fibre material is made by weaving together strands of carbon to produce a very light material that is even stronger than steel. Carbon fibre cell phone cases are some of the most expensive, however the cost is justified by the materials sophisticated woven look, lightweight, and strength.
The carbon fiber is very thin but capable of providing excellent protection against scratches and other common damages. The mobile phone cases from carbon fibre are ideal for securing the cell phone from medium-drops on concrete and other hard surfaces.
- Extremely appealing
- Very thin and light
- Very strong
- Limited patterns and colors
- Very expensive
- Wood Cell Phone Cases
The wooden cell phone material is easy to customize and engrave or etch to create custom and unique designs. Preferred wood is from the sustainable bamboo trees which are usually seen as green, others include the redwood, cherry etc.
The customized wooden enclosed phones can be very unique and look like a piece of great art. However, the cell phone cases from wood are not widely available in phone accessories stores but can be sourced from a variety of manufacturers online.
- Highly customizable
- The woods used in the manufacture are considered more sustainable compared to the plastics.
- Easy to hold
- Unique and attractive
- Limited stocks
- Limited protection against big impacts and falls
Leather Cell Phone Cases
Leather and synthetic leather materials are classic choices for cell phone cases that convey style and elegance but not much protection. The cases will, at most, protect against chipping, scratches and other light daily wear but not against drops.
Checkout iPhone XS-X Leather Cases here.
The natural leather comes from animal hides while synthetic is made from plastics such as polyester and polyurethane. The two types have a soft feel, however, the natural leather is more durable and superior in quality.
This is a classic choice when it comes to premium phone covers
- Improves with age
- Stylish with a rich, quality feel
- Animal rights concerns
- Not very protective against heavier impacts
The artificial or synthetic leather is also known as pleather. It resembles natural leather but is of lower quality and not as durable.
- Low quality
- May split or break more easily.
- Metal Cell Phone Cases
Metal has been used for some of the high-end mobile devices and has a great reputation, feels smooth, cool and expensive. Unfortunately, it tends to be heavier that the other materials. Another concern is that it reflects radio waves, something which can weaken the phones signal.
Metal cases offer the best protection. The hard exterior of the metal cases withstands impacts and won’t break, crack or chip. Common metals include: aluminum, brass, titanium, and alloy of precious metals such as gold, etc.
The metal case is the hardest and able to withstand the largest of impacts as well as protecting the phone against minor or intense scratches.
- Withstands big impacts
- High protection
- Distinctive look
- Doesn’t chip, crack or break on impact
- Weakens the signal due to its good conductivity
- Expensive compared to other materials
- Slippery and difficult to hold
Silicone Cell Phone Cases
The Silicon material is a gel-like soft substance made from silicon and petroleum products. The Silicon cell phone cases are flexible and able to stretch over the cell phone thereby maintaining the phones shape and style, the gel-like surface texture in thick silicon cases are capable of absorbing the shocks and create protection of the cell phone during low-impact drops. As a result, the silicon is ideal in withstanding everyday low impact stresses.
Checkout Galaxy Note 9 Silicone Gel Cases here.
- Soft hence not easy to break
- Ideal texture that is less slippery hence not likely to slip or fall out of a handbag, pocket or hand.
- Easy to hold and grip
- Bulk and maybe difficult to come out of pocket
- Not stylish
- Comes in a single colour
- Few customizing options
- Sticky - can be hard to clean.
While some people will look for cell phone cases to protect their phones from getting damaged, others will look for cases that enhance the appearance or style of their phones. The wide variety of materials with various levels of protection, appearance and customization, allows users to select the best cell phone material that caters for their individual goals.