Steve Jobs once said that no one should use a case on an iPhone because the device was just too beautiful to hide behind some piece of plastic. But then, he probably didn’t have to face the nightmarish hassles of replacing a new one, not to mention paying for it. For the rest of us, a case qualifies as an essential accessory, especially as the phone’s travel functions continue to expand with the never-ending flood of travel-centric apps. Here are seven to consider, from those that put style at the fore to cases that make your phone damn near bomb-proof. Oh, and for those who prefer the former case style, give the Sealline Waterproof E-Cases a gander.
1. Shinola Leather-Wrapped Case, $90; 2. Otter Box Defender Series: Build Your Own, $60; 3. Native Union CLIC Wooden, $40; 4. Mophie Space Pack, $150; 5. Grovemade Walnut and Leather, $99; 6. Lifeproof Fre, $80; 7. Carved Custom Wood SE Traveler, Starting at $49.
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Much like the watches from this Detroit-based upstart, this leather case leans heavily on simple elegance. The leather-wrapped shell creates a minimal silhouette while providing protection for the device's sides and back. Built of premium Essex leather sourced from some of the country's oldest tanneries, the case will age beautifully—likely better than the tech that it protects. Comes in nine different colors.
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This burly case will suit the hearty adventure traveler that wants to stay connected at all times. Otterbox has already spent 238+ hours testing this case, making it one of the best to save your phone from drops, bumps, and other field-expected wear and tear. The triple-layer defense also protects against dust and scratches, and port covers block dust, dirt, and lint from invading the phone's soft spots. The custom option lets you select the shell and slipcover colors. Yea, it's a bit bulky. But it's also burly.
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One of the least expensive and most stylish on this list, the CLIC Wooden Case won't save your phone in a monsoon, but it easily handles the daily bump and grind of life on the open road. The handcrafted wooden back pairs with a tacky rubber band and triangular slice on the back, making it easy to grasp, with pre-cut holes for the lens, controls, ports, and speakers. The slim profile comes in sustainable, hand-sanded solid cherry or walnut timber with a handful of different rubber colors.
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Data hounds will find blessed salvation with the Space Pack, which adds an additional 64GB of storage to your iPhone—as well as enough juice for a full battery recharge. It works much like an external drive, the files accessible via the free Mophie app—and the case offers a good dose of protection as well. It also comes with their "Space Portal," which allows you to access, backup, and transfer files wirelessly via custom security code.
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If the Native Union wooden case and the Shinola leather models had a baby, it'd likely be this case from Grovemade, which boasts hand-sanded domestic walnut bumper with a vegetable-tanned leather back plate. As with all leather cases, it'll age beautifully, and the overlapping wooden seams at each graceful bend in the case are proof of its high-quality construction.
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If traveling means you're always getting wet, this is your case. The waterproof Fre protects your device from mud, snow, grime, and water without impeding the device's port, controls, or other features with a surprisingly sleek profile given the bombproof protection. It also adheres to U.S. military standards for drop and shock protection. This thing will protect your phone in more than six feet of water for a full hour—longer, in other words, than you should have any sort of electronic device in the water. Just follow the instillation instructions closely…
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This wood and rubber case lends the classic aesthetic of all-natural bamboo, redwood, cherry, walnut, or ebony wood (among others) with one added feature: the ability to upload your favorite travel photo and have it laser-cut into the wood. The textured, full-color graphics UV printed on the hand-finished wood, layered into a polycarbonate case with flexible rubber sides that embrace your device like a custom-designed embrace.