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The Best Apple Watch Cases To Protect Your Smartwatch

Best Apple Watch Cases 0 Hero
Photo: UAG Scout Plus Watch Strap & Case

With nearly a decade now having passed since the debut of the first Apple Watch in the Spring of 2015, there are currently dozens and dozens of different Apple Watch cases to choose from, ranging from simple screen protectors to full transformative kits comprised of new housings (i.e. watch cases) paired with an included watchband or strap. And while the sheer abundance of different models on the market gives buyers an enormous array of cases to select from, the market’s oversaturation can also make it difficult to hone in on the few standout models that exist. So, with this in mind, we’ve thoroughly pored over the space to deliver this hand-picked guide to the best Apple Watch cases.

Best Apple Watch Cases Breakdown

do you need an Apple watch case?

More than just a gadget on your wrist, an Apple Watch is an investment in convenience and a key that unlocks a host of crucial health, fitness, and lifestyle tracking capabilities. And while these smartwatches offer a slew of features and upsides, ample durability isn’t one of them — nor is protection from the elements. One simple solution to fortify the device is an aftermarket case, as even low-end, entry-level cases can often hugely bolster an Apple Watch’s level of overall ruggedness. Furthermore, cases from third-party manufacturers also have the ability to radically alter an Apple Watch’s appearance, bestowing the smartwatch’s round-edged rectangular housing with a variety of different shapes, designs, colors, and textures.

what to look for

Though every Apple Watch case will serve the same basic and inherent function of shielding the smartwatch from the elements, impacts, scratches, and other harm, there are a handful of areas in which these items can hugely differ. To help streamline the buying process, we’ve pieced together this condensed guide on the five most pivotal areas to consider when shopping for a new Apple Watch case.

Protection: Considering that the whole purpose of an Apple Watch case is to bolster the smartwatch’s level of durability, the protection provided by a case is of extreme importance. Some cases merely provide scratch protection for the watch’s OLED display, while others are of the bump-case variety and feature multi-layer fortifications that are hugely resistant to impacts. Often the manufacturers of these cases will cite specific (height) drop ratings to give a more objective sense of a case’s protective abilities.

Kit & Components: As previously mentioned, Apple Watch cases can vary from simple screen protectors to full kits that include watch housings/cases along with new bands or straps. These kits are also designed to suit a wide variety of tastes and lifestyles and include everything from metal cases mated to linked bracelets and rubber straps paired with silicone bump cases.

Materials: Arguably, the most important factor determining a case’s level of protection is the material (or materials) used to construct it. Impact-absorbing constructions such as TPU, polymer, rubber, and silicone are fairly commonplace in this segment, as are metal construction cases which are often crafted from stainless steel or aluminum, though there are also more high-end models that are made from top-shelf metal alloys like titanium.

Size: Size is another important area to consider when buying an Apple Watch case, as there’s a major tradeoff occurring here. The bigger, bulkier cases tend to afford better protection but do so at the cost of adding a significant amount of heft to the Apple Watch’s sleek design. There are also some cases that manage to deliver stellar protection despite coming in rather thin packages — usually thanks to advanced multi-layer designs.

Style: We’re fans of the minimalistic aesthetic of the Apple Watch, though the look admittedly isn’t for everyone — another reason that aftermarket cases can be a great idea, as these items can hugely alter the outward appearance of Apple’s smartwatches by shoehorning the device into new housings and/or pairing the watch with a new strap or band. And, just like the Apple Watch itself, many of these offerings are available in a plethora of color, material, and finish options.

Caseology Vault

Caseology Vault
  • Durable yet affordable
  • Military-grade protection
  • Raised bezel
  • No built-in screen protector

Best Budget Case: By pairing an immensely effective bump-case system with an impact-absorbing thermoplastic polyurethane housing Caseology has managed to deliver an ultra-low-profile case that affords remarkable levels of durability and a sleek sandstone texture. The raised front lip and corner protection on the case also go a long way in terms of fortifying the watch’s color display, and the Apple Watch’s wireless Super Charging feature is still compatible even with the case on.

Size: Series 7/8 (45mm)
Material: Thermoplastic Polyurethane
Features: Military-grade protection, sandstone texture

Spigen Rugged Armor Pro

Spigen Rugged Armor ProSpigen Rugged Armor Pro
  • Accented with carbon fiber
  • Thick construction
  • Shock-absorbing layer
  • May be a bit big on small wrists

Best Starter Case: Spigen’s Rugged Armor Pro brings an enormous amount of protection to the table while also affording the Apple Watch with a heavy dose of tactical-inspired style. Compatible with all 44mm and 45mm Apple Watches (Series 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8), this item features a thick thermoplastic polyurethane bump case with screen-protecting raised bezels, and a secondary, inner shock-absorbing layer. Tipping the scales at less than 1oz, the Rugged Armor Pro case boasts a matte finish that’s accented via carbon fiber inlays and comes paired with an adjustable band with matching carbon inlays and a metal clasp.

Size: Series 4-8 (44mm, 45mm)
Material: Thermoplastic polyurethane
Features: Shock-absorbing inner layer, carbon fiber inlays

Otterbox Exo Edge

Otterbox Exo Edge
  • Comes with a screen protector
  • Sleek yet protective design
  • Smooth bumpers
  • Can interfere with the edges of the screen sometimes

Best Clear Case: A pared-down item specifically made to compliment the sleek and minimalistic design of the Apple Watch, Otterbox’s EXO EDGE case features great protection while sporting a markedly understated appearance (made even better by the clear option). The case features a hardwearing polycarbonate chassis that’s been bestowed with an outer thermoplastic elastomer case with a screen-protecting solid bezel and smooth bumpers. Produced in five color options — including orange, blue, and black — this case can accommodate 41mm and 45mm Apple Watches (Series 7 and 8).

Size: Series 7/8 (41mm, 45mm)
Material: Polycarbonate
Features: Thermoplastic screen protector

MONOCARBON Real Carbon Fiber Snug Case

MONOCARBON Real Carbon Fiber Snug Case
  • Super lightweight
  • Minimalist design
  • Made of genuine carbon fiber
  • May be a bit thin for some

Best Carbon Fiber Case: This case from MONOCARBON, a label that’s known for giving the carbon fiber treatment to many of our everyday devices, comes in a sleek matte black colorway and is made of genuine carbon fiber. It’s super lightweight and thin, coming in at just 0.7 grams with a thickness of 0.23 inches, and the case is designed to be unobtrusive so you can enjoy the full display of your watch. This is also a great pick for any gearheads or friends of gearheads looking for a gift.

Size: Series 7/8 (45mm)
Material: Carbon fiber
Features: 0.7 grams

UAG Scout Plus Watch Strap & Case

UAG Scout Plus Watch Strap Case
  • Very soft
  • Snug fit
  • Unobtrusive design
  • Runs slightly big, but there are multiple notches

Best Active Case: Aptly-named, UAG’s Scout Plus case for the 45mm Apple Watch is another wildly protective case that utilizes a sleek construction that’s comprised of a soft touch TPU. Cut-outs offer unobstructed access to the watch’s buttons and rear wireless charger coupling, while raised bezels protect the watch’s OLED face without preventing access to the touchscreen display. Also offered in an all-black version, this case is great for getting active or if you’re looking for a minimalist design.

Size: Series 7/8 (45mm)
Material: TPU
Features: Multiple size notches

Catalyst Total Protection Case + Band

Catalyst Total Protection Case Band
  • IP68-rated water resistance and 6′ of drop resistance
  • Scratch and shock-proof
  • Protects watch from debris
  • N/A

Best Protective Case: An insanely rugged kit that’s built to MIL-STD 810G standards, this case from Catalyst is IP68-rated, is sealed to depths of at least 330’ (or 100m), and its impact and drop-proof to 6.6’ (or 2m). What’s more, this case’s polycarbonate housing is extremely resistant to scratches and shocks, is snow, dirt, and sand-proof, and comes linked to a silicone band. This award-winning case also boasts a patented rotating crown dial and a raised bezel and comes backed by a year-long factory warranty.

Size: Series 7/8 (45mm)
Material: Polycarbonate
Features: IP68-rated, 6.6′ of drop resistance

Gray Cyber Watch Case + Band

Gray Cyber Watch Case Band
  • Made of aerospace-grade titanium
  • Black PVD-coating
  • Available in a carbon fiber version
  • Limited availability

Best Premium Case: Taking inspiration from the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, GRAY’s new RESKAR case for the (Series 7 and 8 Apple Watch is a spare-no-expense item that’s precision-machined from aerospace-grade 6Al4V titanium billet before being fortified with a rugged black PVD-coating and then treated to a mechanically-textured surface finish. Limited to only 1,000 units worldwide, the RESKAR comes paired with one of GRAY’s equally high-end black FKM (fluoroelastomer) construction CYBER BANDS. This titanium construction case is also offered in gold, light grey, and burnt and blued variants, as well as in black or orange carbon fiber versions.

Size: Series 7/8 (45mm)
Material: Titanium
Features: PVD-coating, aerospace-grade titanium