The Best Clear iPhone XS Max Case Is Just $13

On New Year's Eve, a friend asked a question about my iPhone XS Max that I hadn't anticipated: "Wait, that's so pretty. Why do you hide it?" I had removed my basic, black-leather, Apple-made case from my XL-size phone, and after I considered this question, I didn't want to put the case back on.

So I hit Apple's online store to see if the company makes clear cases for the XS Max. It does not: Only the bright, colorfulXR iPhones get Apple-produced transparent cases. And while clear cases make sense for the XR — that banana yellow and coral orange shouldn't be hidden — I wondered why Apple left its pricier handsets in the cold.

I then poked around on Amazon, looking for clear iPhone cases and trying to see which was best, since we hadn't named one supreme yet. Ultimately, I stopped out of frustration over a lack of product reviews that mentioned how the cases felt to touch, because that was a key factor for why I bought the $49 black-leather Apple case.

And then, my salvation came at the Tom's Guide office. During a morning meeting, I noticed that senior writer Caitlin McGarry, who's constantly provided life-saving advice, was rocking a slim, clear case on her iPhone XS: Spigen's Case Ultra Hybrid.

Spigen Ultra Hybrid - Crystal Clear (iPhone XS)
Spigen Ultra Hybrid - Crystal Clear (iPhone XS)

I asked if I could see it, and when my colleague handed her phone to me, I was seriously, instantly impressed. First off, it feels good. Secondly, the case's clear back provided an excellent window to the iPhone's lovely back.

And while I would love it if the iPhone's gold metallic frame were a little more visible, there's no way that hue wouldn't get obscured given how light bounces around the curved case's sides.

Lastly, and most importantly for day-to-day usage, the Spigen case's volume and lock buttons felt really snappy and easy to click. Too often, case makers leave us with mushy buttons, an issue I see on every case my parents have ever bought at the AT&T store. (I always tell them not to, but they never remember.) Those buttons make clicking a pain.

My decision got even easier when I found out that the iPhone XS Max version of the Case Ultra Hybrid was only $13 on Amazon. (The XS version costs a bit more right now, at $20, but Caitlin found it for $12 at one point.) At that price, it was practically too small a risk not to take.

I got the case in the mail a couple days later, and ever since snapping it onto my iPhone without a hitch, I've never regretted my decision. The only issue, really, is that my colleague has one more thing to list in the ways she's fixed my life.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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.