Even a casual stroll down the phone case aisle, or browse through the Amazon listings will reveal one thing: a case can be made out of practically any material.
Let’s take a look at a few common materials and see what makes them tick. That way, you can go into your next case shopping journey educated, informed, and ready for anything.
What is the Best Material for Your Phone Case?
If you’re living in the 2020s, you know that plastics are everywhere. Their manufacturing flexibility, value, and durability make them a top pick for most case makers.
However, not all plastics are created equal, and several varieties serve different purposes. Two of the most common in cases are thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and polycarbonate (PC).
Without getting into the dizzying science of polymers, generally, PC is very rigid. In contrast, TPU is slightly softer and more flexible.
Don’t think of TPU as rubber or silicon because it does maintain its structure more than those materials. TPU is excellent at absorbing impact shock while maintaining shape and durability.
Many cases employ both these types of plastic or even other varieties to take advantage of each’s benefits.
Plastic Case Pros
- Highly durable and impact-resistant
- Excellent value-for-money ratio
- The most common case material, available from dozens of case makers in a gigantic range of styles
Plastic Case Cons
- Depending on the quality of the materials used, plastic can sometimes feel hollow or cheap
- Not a sustainable material
- Clear plastic phone cases yellow with time and wears with sunlight exposure
Silicone is a distant cousin of traditional plastic.
Crafted from bases of petroleum and the element silicon, silicone is a highly useful material in cases and beyond. Softer and more flexible than many plastics, silicone is also an excellent shock absorber.
Silicone lends a decidedly different look to devices, and because of its softness, it is quite easy to apply and remove to a phone.
If you find yourself googling “best material for phone case,” silicone is sure to come up more than once.
Silicone Case Pros
- Very inexpensive
- Silicone’s squashy nature is naturally easy to grip
- Wide variety of interesting styles and colors available
Silicone Case Cons
- Does not wear particularly well, attracting fuzz, hair, and dirt over time
- The grippy finish is not very easy to slot into a pocket
- Some cases tend to slip off of devices
For the discerning, sophisticated phone user, a leather case reflects worldly refinement.
A leather case doesn’t fuss with plastic or other manufactured materials. Only the finest cattle hides will do.
Often, leather cases also include wallet features, packing in more features into a small package.
Plus, if you’d rather not spend the money, or are opposed to using real leather, there are a multitude of synthetic options that mimic the look available.
Leather Phone Case Pros
- Eye-catching and tactile texture
- Positively oozes sophistication
- Slightly rough, soft texture is easy to hold and slip into a pocket or bag
Leather Phone Case Cons
- Significantly more expensive than plastic options
- Thin material offers minimal drop protection
- The natural material is more prone to scratches or tears
Sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by artifice. Between all those pixels, plastics, and politics, sometimes it’s difficult to remember our connection to the real world. Rekindle your link to the natural earth with a wooden case.
It lends a handcrafted, organic charm to your high-tech device that’s something entirely different from what you typically see. Bamboo is a popular choice for wood cases and will protect against scratches and light use. However, it may crack or chip if dropped.
Wood Phone Case Pros
- A more sustainable option than plastics or other synthetics
- Extremely stylish and elegant
- Many people enjoy the texture of the natural wood grain
Wood Phone Case Cons
- Prone to nicks and cracks if dropped
- More limited style choices, some device models may not have wood options available
- A tendency to be thicker and bulkier than other options
As you can tell, no one material leads the pack when it comes to that magic triangle of value, style, and protective benefits. It’s up to you to pick the best material for a phone case that’s right for you.