I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve got a brand new iPhone I’m always tempted to use it without a case. Apple spent millions of dollars on the iPhone X design, why would you want to cover it up with a case? It’s a valid question, and I’m willing to bet that the thousands of customers who sell us cracked iPhones every year would be happy to answer it for you.

The fact of the matter is, a new iPhone is an investment. Anything that you’re paying hundreds (or, in the case of the iPhone X, even thousands) of dollars for needs to be protected. Unless you feel like shelling out $100+ for an insurance plan, a quality case is the best tool for that. Plus, when you sell your iPhone years later, it’ll be worth more money because you kept it in great condition.

But before you buy, remember that all cases are not created equal. As a buyback business that purchases thousands of iPhones a month, we’ve seen more beat up and minty fresh iPhones than anyone. Many of our customers send their old case in along with those iPhones, so we’ve got the inside scoop on which cases work and which might rub you (and your phone) the wrong way.

Do Buy:

Cases that fit extremely tightly

This is a biggie. If your case is only one-piece and slips in and out easily, it’s probably doing more harm than good. Cases that fit too loosely allow tiny amounts of dust and dirt to slip in around the edges. While a “tiny” amount of dirt may sound negligible, the reality is that those bits of dust and dirt can’t ever come back out unless you take the case off of the phone and wipe it clean.

When it gets stuck between the case and your iPhone, that debris begins to act as a polishing agent. Over time the trapped particles of dirt will create tiny markings on the housing of your phone, and if there’s enough of them it can even ruin the finish. That’s why we recommend using a case that’s such a struggle to put on that it makes you never want to take it off. Chances are when you do, your iPhone will look as good as new.

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Waterproof Cases

Waterproof cases are great if you plan on taking a dip with your iPhone every now and then, but they also have some unsung advantages. As we’ve already established, dust and dirt are your enemies when it comes to maintaining that perfect finish on your iPhone.

The great thing about waterproof cases is that generally speaking if a case is waterproof it’s also going to be dust-proof. As long as you make sure the case and iPhone are completely clean when putting it on, there’s basically no way your phone is ever going to look anything less than pristine.

Additionally, while many people only think about a waterproof case coming in handy when their iPhone is submerged in water, what they often don’t realize is that even the smallest bit of dampness can wreak havoc on your iPhone. If you’re exercising or even just outside on a muggy day, the resulting sweat or moisture in your clothing is sometimes enough to cause corrosion of the internal components. Invest in a waterproof case and you’ll never have to worry about Jazzercising your iPhone to an early grave.

Don’t Buy:

Cases with a rubber grid inside

Cases like the OtterBox Symmetry have a raised rubber grid inside. It looks stylish and probably has some advantages when it comes to dropping protection, but the problem we’ve seen with these cases is that they can cause uneven oxidation against the points that are touching the iPhone and the ones that aren’t. The end result is a permanent impression of that case’s rubber design on the back of the iPhone. That being said, this should be a non-issue with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, as they all have a glass back that isn’t susceptible to oxidation.

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Cases that expose the Apple logo

We definitely get the allure of these types of cases. Apple Customers are passionate about their products, and it only makes sense that you’d want to let people know you’re a diehard Apple fanatic by showing off that shining logo. These cases definitely do make an impression, but it might not always be the figurative kind you’re hoping for.

Similar to cases with a rubber grid, that circular cut-out can cause uneven oxidation and may ultimately leave a permanent faded ring around the Apple logo. We’ve seen too many of these types of blemishes to count and recommend staying away from these cases to avoid what we’ve nicknamed “The Ring of Shame.”

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Don’t Worry About:

Drop protection

It’s the first thing every brand touts about their cases but in practice, this is probably the least important factor. Unless you work construction or find that you tend to have butterfingers while texting and sky-diving, most kinds of cases are going to do the job just fine for accidental drops.

The majority of drops happen from 4 feet or less, and at that height, the only problems you’ll generally run into with an unprotected phone are scratches, dings and screen cracks. Essentially every iPhone case has a raised lip around the screen, which absorbs the impact during a fall and works to prevent cracks. It also goes without saying that scratches and dings are a non-issue with any case. So, for most people, it’s safe to skip the inch thick cases.

Brand Name

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cool new cases and while this article wasn’t meant to sell you on any particular brand, I do have some personal favorites when it comes to case manufacturers. The problem is that some people worry that a cheap or generic case won’t have the same protection as an expensive name-brand case.

The fact of the matter is that (as long as you follow the guide above) almost any case is going to be light-years better than no case at all and the differences between a $15 case and a $50 case are negligible. There’s no need to break the bank unless owning a top brand case for your iPhone is important to you. The one exception to this advice is for waterproof cases.

Waterproofing requires precise manufacturing techniques and exceptional quality control. It’s best to shell out the extra cash and get a case from a trusted brand like LifeProof if you plan on swimming with your phone.

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