I have never bought an official phone case, and I won’t until Apple and Samsung make some changes

(Image credit: Nood)

A recent leak on social media revealed several alleged cases for the upcoming iPhone 16 Pro, which revealed a much larger camera island. While we expected that the camera island would change due to rumored size increases, I was more surprised by the look of the cases.

It is common practice to buy one of the best iPhone cases, it makes sense and it helps to protect the phone. However, I have never bought an official phone case and have always bought third-party cases. My reasons are usually down to the official cases offering less value for money than the third-party options and this image seemed to prove this. The issue is that, with the newly expanded island there's nearly a third of the case that's missing. 

I thought it was a good time to look at some of the issues I have with official cases, what they do wrong and why I have never really considered them. I also thought it was worth considering what the big developers would need to offer me to convince me to finally buy an official case.

Phone cases: What is the issue with official cases

iPhone 16 Pro cases

(Image credit: @MajinBuOfficial on X)

First things first, what is the main issue with the apparent iPhone 16 Pro case? Well, the obvious answer would be the giant hole in it for the camera. Now, this hole has a purpose, but my problem is the potential price. Official cases are usually pretty pricey, for instance, the iPhone 15 Pro case with MagSafe comes to £49 in the U.K. This is a lot for a relatively bare-bones product, but if I have to pay the same, or more, for the iPhone 16 Pro case with less actual case then there's an issue.

The second issue is that the official cases are usually less durable, at least in my experience as an engineer. For instance, Apple recently released the FineWoven cases that were more environmentally friendly. However, the reaction was anything but positive as the cases were nowhere near as durable as the leather and silicone cases and got scratched easily. This lack of durability was not reflected by a cheaper price as the cases still retail for the same as the MagSafe option.

The final issue is just how dull and lacking in features official cases are. For instance, I recently got a Galaxy Z Fold 5 and I took the time to look at some official cases. If we look at the list on Samsung's site we can see that there isn't a lot on offer. There's a lack of color options and designs and you're forced to pick one feature when buying a case. For instance, you could have a case with an S Pen holder, or a stand, but not both.

Phone cases: Here's what the big developers need to change 

iPhone 15 Pro in a FineWoven case

(Image credit: Future)

Firstly, let's look at how third-party developers look at designs and functions. If you look at our best Z Fold 5 cases list you will notice the third-party options all come with better patterns, more features, and look considerably tougher. If companies like Apple and Samsung want me to buy a case then I need the case to have all the features. For instance, give me one case design with an option for an S Pen holder, stand and everything else rather than making me pick from three lesser options.

As I said, one of the biggest issues with official cases is that they tend to be relatively brittle. This is usually down to being a cost-cutting measure more than anything else. However, the case is one of the most important accessories we can buy, so they need to be tough. I would need to see Samsung and Apple design their cases to take a hit, something that Samsung has done in the past. Now, I know that the big companies like to keep things streamlined, but if we can develop AI we can surely make a tough but thin case.

The final point is just about the general look of the cases. One of the main things I noted about the official Galaxy Z Fold 5 cases is that they are visually dull. One could argue, and I think reasonably so, that the look of the actual phone is currently secondary, especially as they all look the same. The phone case is the actual thing that people are going to see, and it is the place where a person can add that feeling of uniqueness. It would be simple for companies to offer some customization options for cases, especially if there was only one basic model.

Phone cases: We need to focus on cases a little bit more

Best Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 cases

(Image credit: Casetify)

As I said, I have no interest in buying an official case, I think it's too risky to put my faith in something that large companies seem to view as secondary. However, that's down to us not thinking about cases all that much as consumers. We don't think about it because of the big focus on hardware and software changes and the rise of AI but we need to realise that we deserve better. I know I won't buy an official case until I start seeing some changes. 

For now, we can only wait and see what the official cases for the iPhone 16 look like, but I imagine it will be another case of shopping third party. Speaking of which, we have lists of the best cases for the iPhone 15 and the best cases for the Galaxy S24 that will help you find the case of your dreams.

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.