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Best rugged phone case 2023 - Our top picks

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best rugged phone case

Getting one of the best rugged phone cases is going to be a useful purchase if you're looking to keep your phone protected. 

Whether you've got a flagship, one of the best mid-range phones, or simply one of the best cheap phones, a rugged phone case is perhaps the best way to keep it safe from any potential damage.

A rugged phone case should protect your phone better than a normal case, given that they are built specifically with durability in mind, much like some of the best rugged tablet cases around.

They can look a little bit bulkier than standard cases, but it's worth it considering the extra drop and shock protection they provide. This is particularly useful if you've just bought a new expensive phone you want to keep safe, such as the new iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

With a rugged phone case, you'll want to look for things such as MIL-STD certification, which ensures that the case has been through a certain amount of durability tests.

Some cases may come with belt clips or holders, so you can attach the phone to the outside of your jeans if you wish to. Some of these can also double as kickstands if you want to set your phone down and prop it up on your desk to view any content. 

In addition, you'll need to decide whether you'd like them to be in one or two pieces, as some cases can come with a hard outer shell and a soft inner shell for extra protection. 

With all this in mind, we’ve selected these phone cases based on our research into their specs, features, general reviews, and other general points that we think make them worth considering. Plus, we’ve answered some of your most frequently asked questions so you can pick the best ones for you.

So with that being said, let’s get into it – here are some top picks for the best rugged phone case available today.

Best rugged phone case

Best rugged Otterbox phone case - Otterbox Defender

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Image Credit: Otterbox

Otterbox makes some of the best phone cases out there, and the Otterbox Defender looks like a great all-round choice. 

You'll find it utilises a synthetic rubber slipcover and a polycarbonate outer shell to ensure the case is durable and will protect your phone from any bumps and scrapes.

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In addition, the Otterbox Defender features port covers to keep any unwanted dust and dirt away from clogging up the phone's ports, and its thick raised bezel ensures that your display is protected. 

It also appears to have a clip on the back, which would make it an incredibly useful case, with capabilities for protection and convenience.

It's a versatile case also in terms of the phones it supports, with models available for iPhone SE (2020) up to the iPhone 13 Pro, as well as the Galaxy S20 series up to the S22 and the Google Pixel 5, 6 and 6 Pro.

Best rugged Spigen phone case - Spigen Tough Armor

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Image Credit: Spigen

The Spigen Tough Armor looks like a brilliant rugged phone case with plenty of measures to keep your phone protected. 

You'll find it features two layers with a flexible TPU interior and a hard polycarbonate outer layer to ensure your phone is well-supported on the inside and should be able to withstand any accidental scrapes on the outside.

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Combined with this, the Spigen Tough Armor also comes with extra foam inserts you can put inside the case for some extra shock absorption.

The case also comes with a built-in kickstand on the back so you can prop your phone up when it's placed down on your desk. 

As for compatibility, there are variants of this case available for Samsung phones from the Note 20 onwards, the entire iPhone 12 and 13 range, Pixels from the 4a 5G upwards, and even the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. 

Best rugged Mous phone case - Mous Limitless Protective Case

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Image Credit: Mous

The Mous Limitless Protective Case looks like a brilliant rugged phone case, especially if you're after something a little more stylish in terms of looks. 

It's available in a range of styles including aramid fibre, which is especially protective as a material that was originally designed for the U.S. Military, as well as bamboo, leather and fabrics, so you'll be sure to find a look that suits your needs. 

As well as looking great, the Mous Limitless Protective Case are also rather functional too, being made from a blend of polycarbonate and TPU to ensure they're durable, as well as containing a microfibre internal lining to ensure your phone is well padded.

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Moreover, they also feature Mous' own AiroShock lining, which is a material that can help to dissipate the energy that can come from dropping your phone and let it land safely, even from the largest of drops. 

As for compatibility, this case is available for iPhones from the 11 upwards, as well as Samsung Galaxy devices from the Note 10 up to the S22 Ultra, and the Google Pixel 4 to the 6 Pro.

Best rugged UAG phone case - UAG Monarch

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Image Credit: UAG

If you're after a rugged phone case with some mean looks, the UAG Monarch looks like a marvellous choice. 

It featured some sharp corners alongside a honeycomb pattern on the sides of the case that looks rather cool, as well as a matte black textured finish that also looks clean and should mean you have a good grip on your phone at all times.

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As for protection, they're comprised of five different layers to offer a substantial barrier between your phone and any drops or scrapes. Being comprised of a mix of metal alloy, polycarbonate and hard rubber means the UAG Monarch should be extra durable.

When it comes to compatibility, this case has arguably one of the vastest lists of phones, with it working with iPhones from the SE onwards, as well as Samsung devices from the Note 20 upwards, and the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. 

Best rugged Supcase phone case - Supcase UB Pro

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Image Credit: Supcase

The Supcase UB Pro should be an immense option for a rugged phone case, especially if you're looking for a full-body case.

As a full-body case, this particular offering surrounds the entire phone, as opposed to just the back, ensuring the screen is also protected from any potential damage. It's comprised of a durable polycarbonate shell, as well as a thick TPU bumper to ensure your phone's corners are also protected. 

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For convenience, the Supcase UB Pro also features a rotating belt holster so you can attach the phone to your belt for ease of access. In addition, you'll also find a built-in kickstand so you can prop your phone up easily and watch all manner of content. 

It's also available for a wide range of phones, from the Google Pixel 4a 5G (which is no longer avaialble to buy) to 6 Pro, as well as from the iPhone SE (2020) upwards to the 13 Pro. For Samsung phones, it's available from the Note 20 onwards, as well as for the Galaxy A52 and A72, which is cool. 

Frequently asked questions

Picking the right phone case can often lead to a ton of questions. Don't worry though, we've answered some of the most common queries right here.

Should I buy a rugged phone case?

In our humble opinion, a rugged phone case represents a marvellous investment if you're looking to keep your phone as protected as it can be from any unfortunate accidents. 

In comparison to more of a standard phone case, rugged phone cases are specifically engineered to protect your phone from any drops, bumps and scrapes, and should definitely be something you consider buying.

How much should I spend on a rugged phone case?

As a general rule, spending $25-$50 will get you a rather good rugged phone case that will do a great job of protecting your phone, whether you're wanting something sleek and stylish, or a little bulkier with meaner looks. 

Going for a more expensive case may get you an option that's even more durable and hard-wearing than at the cheaper end of the spectrum, which extra benefits such as dust covers for ports and clever foam linings for added protection.

What should I look for in a rugged phone case? 

In short, for a rugged phone case, you'll first want to look for a case that's available for your phone and from there, you'll want to check out ones that are durable and comprised of materials such as polycarbonate and TPU. 

Things such as whether the case comes with a kickstand or belt clip may be important to you from a quality of life perspective, as well as whether they're single-piece and protect the back of your phone, or whether you're wanting an all-around two-piece case. 

Is a hard case or a soft case better for a phone?

In a general sense, a hard case is likely to be better for your phone, given the extra protection that they can offer over softer cases.

This becomes apparent when looking at rugged phone cases and noting that the vast majority of offerings, such as those on our list, are also hard cases comprised of some rather sturdy plastics.

What does rugged mean in a phone case?

In essence, a 'rugged' phone case refers to a casing for your phone that will be sturdy and able to withstand hard impacts.

Some, such as the ones on our list, may have been through certified military drop tests to act as a testament to their durability and ensure your phone will be protected in nearly every eventuality.


What type of phone cases are most protective?

Generally speaking, if you can get a hard case made of polycarbonate, then these are likely to be the most protective given the hard surface on offer that should protect both the back and corners of your phone.

Some silicone and leather cases can also be durable, but they may not be as reinforced or specially designed for rugged use as the ones made of polycarbonate that we've listed above.

What material is the best rugged phone case made out of?

In a general sense, as you'll see from our list above, rugged phone cases are usually comprised of polycarbonate, a form of plastic, which means they are especially hard-wearing, on the back, as well as a hard TPU edging to offer enhanced corner protection

On the inside, they may feature a fabric lining to act as a cushion for any potential impacts, or other materials that do a similar job, such as Mous' AiroFoam.

Do phones really need cases?

In short, yes. While phones in 2022 can be durable and majorly made of some quality materials, they aren't going to survive everything. The screen are also especially fragile, and can cause frustration when they aren't pristine.

Getting a phone case, rugged or not, fundamentally offers you an extra barrier against any potential damage and offers extra peace of mind.

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