Sep 25, 2023

Do thin cases protect my phone?

Bulky cases don't feel great to hold, but does that mean you should go for a thin case instead?

I'm a big fan of sleek, ultra-thin cases like the Thinborne lineup and the Spigen Thin Fit series. I've bought one for all the phones I've used in the last few years, but I still recommend rugged cases like the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro and dbrand Grip to most people. I haven't dropped a phone in years, and I value the in-hand feel slim cases offer more than the added drop protection you get with rugged cases, but it's risky to go without the protection. If you're like me and rarely drop your phone, a thin case should be good enough for you. But a rugged phone case is always a better pick for most people.

Besides sheer size, there are some pronounced differences between rugged and slim cases, mostly in their designs. Rugged cases from renowned brands feature a multi-layer design with a polycarbonate outer shell that'll take the brunt of a fall and an inner TPU lining for shock absorption. They also feature raised edges to ensure your phone never lands flat on the display or camera module. All of this ensures rugged cases can prevent the phone's display or back glass from cracking in case of a fall and avoid dings on the body. When you buy one of the best phones on the market, like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, it's also one of the most expensive, so going for added protection might be in your wallet's best interest.

Slim cases, on the other hand, typically have a simpler design, with a single layer of TPU or polycarbonate standing between your phone and an expensive trip to the service center. While that's good enough to prevent scratches, you get little to no shock absorption. So, if you drop your phone from waist height with a slim case on, you'd be lucky if your phone survives unscathed. I don't recommend depending on luck to protect your phone, so you should consider investing in a rugged case from reputed phone case brands like Supcase, Spigen, Poetic, or Otterbox if you're not sure how careful you are.

The Supcase UB Pro case for many of the best mobile devices from Apple to Android offers 360-degree scratch and drop protection and even features a built-in screen protector.

The Poetic Revolution series also features a dual-layer design for complete scratch and drop protection and a built-in screen protector.

The Otterbox Defender series has a MIL-STD-810G rating, so you can rest assured it will keep your phone safe from scratches and drops.

In case you're confident of your phone handling abilities but don't want to tempt fate, there is a happy medium. Cases like the Spigen Slim Armor, Ghostek Nautical Slim, and Supcase UB Mag Slim offer a decent level of drop protection without adding too much bulk. These cases implement unique solutions, like foam pads or rubberized trims, to add some shock absorption, making them better than the super sleek cases. You can pick these if you want the best of both worlds, but a full-blown rugged case will still be a better buy if protection is the priority.

Spigen Optik Armor cases provide excellent protection across a wide range of phones while maintaining a slim profile. The case also features a slide that can cover your camera lenses for added protection.

The Ghostek Nautical Slim features a rubberized trim that absorbs the brunt of the impact and keeps your phone safe. Aside from adding excellent protection, the case also adds and extra layer of water-resistance with an IP68 rating.

Supcase's UB Mag series cases feature a TPU bumper to protect your phone from drops without any additional heft, a clear back panel to show off your phone, and MagSafe compatibility.

To sum it up, thin cases are only good for scratch resistance. You should buy them if you're sure you won't drop your phone accidentally or despise the look and feel of rugged cases. If you have butter fingers or don't mind using a bulky case on your phone, you should pick up a rugged case instead. It'll be better for your phone and your peace of mind.

I chanced upon the XDA Forums while looking for a way to update the original Motorola Defy to Android 4.0 ICS. Now I help people find answers to similar questions while covering the latest developments in the tech world. You can reach out to me at [email protected] or on Twitter @pranobmehrotra.