Why I Love Apple's Clear iPhone 11 Cases (And Why Others Don't)

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From the second I found out about Apple making clear cases for the iPhone 11, I've been elated and excited. Sure, I liked the clear case I bought for my iPhone XS Max (yes, I'm on the Apple iPhone upgrade plan), but I knew it wasn't perfect, and I thought Apple had a great chance to make an ideal clear plastic case (its leather case is right up there).

While waiting for AT&T to remotely clear my line being transferred, I walked over to the wall of cases and saw that Apple's design met the goals I was hoping for. After spending days with my new phone in its case, I was so satisfied with my purchase that I started to tout the case's superiority around the office.

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That's when my colleagues (and other Apple product early adopters I know online) chimed in to find flaws. So, fellow iPhone shoppers, here are the best and worst parts of Apple's clear cases for the iPhone 11 (specifically my iPhone 11 Pro Max).

What I like about Apple’s iPhone 11 clear cases

Utterly seamless
The more intimate a device is (my iPhone goes practically everywhere I go), the faster I find the cracks and flaws in the build of a device. Those little lines in a case, which show that it's not one piece of plastic (or metal, for the unibody MacBooks) might be the smallest nit I can pick, but there's a bit of OCD-adjacent thinking in my brain that always looks at those edges and seams like the bubbles of air you wish you could smooth out under a screen protector.

Apple's (somehow) made clear iPhone 11 cases that appear to be one piece of plastic that wraps around the case, except they've also got moving pieces for clicking the buttons. Even when I take the phone out of the case, and look at its inner shell, my eyes couldn't find a ridge or crack. It's a minor miracle of engineering, and worthy of compliment.

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It just feels good
I'm not sure how much work Apple's put into making a plastic case that feels great in your hand — I admit that this is very subjective — but again, they've made one of the little things really work well here. Part of that success comes from the lack of corner bumps (or are they back feet?), a facet of the clear Spigen Ultra Hybrid case I always tried to not think about.

MORE: iPhone 11: It's Reinvent the Camera or Bust

Each corner of Apple's clear case is like an extension of the phone, smooth, curved and without anything extra. It's a great amount of minimalism that helps the phone always sit flush against my palm, and I like it so much.

What I don’t like about Apple’s iPhone 11 clear cases

A bump to protect Apple's cavalcade of cameras
There's one teeny tiny asterisk when it comes to how flat the camera lies. A small, round lip protrudes around the iPhone 11's camera bump, and I didn't think much of it until a friend commented about how it stops his iPhone from lying entirely flat.

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Now that I know that it's there, I wish it wasn't there. I get why the section around the camera is raised, to keep that triad of cameras from any surfaces it's placed against. But why not have the entire back of the case increased by that small miniscule amount?

MORE: iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max

Buttons could be clickier
When I handed my iPhone to my colleague Mark Spoonauer, he immediately clicked its volume and lock buttons, to see how well they were built. Since Mark's used as many phones and cases as anyone else — he did our iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max reviews — he could tell that the buttons felt a little stiff to click.

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As much as I don't entirely agree (they're good enough for me), I get the argument, they could be better. Further, when Apple charges $39 for this case, it would be great if the buttons felt as easy to click and those in the $12.99 Spigen case I used last year. 

Bottom line

If you want the most elegant and transparent iPhone 11 case out there, you just need to ask Apple for it. It feels so damn good in the hand that I honestly don't mind its flaws. I wouldn't blame you for getting a more affordable option, though. But since your phone case becomes the outer layer of more than half of your phone, why not buy the case that you love to hold?

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.