I tested these iPhone SE phone cases and screen protectors so you don’t have to

man on phone with screen protector
Credit: Diamond Dog

What better way to celebrate the purchase of a new iPhone than tricking it out with the latest accessories? To that end, I’ve outfitted my snazzy, new iPhone SE with a few different cases and played with some screen protectors. 

One nice thing about the new SE is that its size and layout are the same as the iPhone 8 save one exception: They moved the Apple logo lower down on the phone’s body. This means, for the most part, anything that fits an iPhone 8 will fit your new SE.


Gear4 Oxford Eco 

Made from recycled plastic, the Gear4 Oxford Eco is an eco-friendly folio case that holds your phone and a couple of credit cards. I’ve always loved the idea of a wallet case but had yet to find one I liked. More importantly, I never found a wallet case that could actually replace my wallet. Unfortunately, I can’t say the Gear4 has changed my mind. 

While the case itself is sleek and smooth, slides in and out of my pocket great, and overall seems to protect my phone well, it’s clasp literally requires two hands to open. As one who’s used to my phone screen being pretty accessible, this is a deal-breaker. Additionally, when it’s closed you cannot use the volume buttons and there’s no access to the sound on/off switch. 

The final straw: The clasp prevents me from using the phone holder in my car with the case open. While I’m certainly not one to text and drive, I do like to see who is contacting me so I can respond in a safe and timely manner. 

Otterbox Commuter

Otterbox has been my go-to phone case for several years now. I’ve used most of their cases like the Defender and the Symmetry, but my favorite is the Commuter. Slim enough to fit in my pocket, rugged enough to handle bumps and drops, and an affordable price tag make the Commuter my top choice on all my phones. 

As I mentioned earlier, Apple moved the logo but left everything else the same between the iPhone 8 and the new SE. For Otterbox users, all this means is you can’t see the Apple logo through the back of your case. Frankly, I’d rather the case was just flat anyway, so this wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.

UAG Outback Case 

My wife recently tested Urban Armor Gear’s new biodegradable case. She has an iPhone 8, so I was able to try it on my SE for a couple of days. The case itself is nice, my phone felt secure and the buttons were easy to access. Overall a great case, though I decided to go with an Otterbox out of familiarity with long-term use. In the future, UAG may very well become my case of choice because they use recycled materials. 

Screen protectors:

Testing screen protectors can be complicated. Many of their claims have to do with hardness and strength which are hard to quantify and dangerous (for one’s phone) to test. Scratch resistance also falls under the “dangerous” heading. Finally, anti-fingerprint coatings take a long time to break down. This means unless a protector is particularly bad you’ll have had it on for long enough that spending another $20 on a tempered glass screen protector won’t be a noticeable inconvenience. 

InvisibleShield Glass Elite+

A fantastic glass screen protector with a timely, new feature: Silver ions in the glass kill up to 99.99% of bacteria. This screen protector fits my phone perfectly without interfering with the case, which is more than I could say for previous phone/screen protector combinations. While the InvisibleShield protector is neither anti-glare NOR anti-fingerprint, I’m finding myself very willing to forgive them, largely because it’s anti-microbial. I never thought much of the glass protectors, preferring cheaper options, but InvisibleShield may have changed my mind.

I will say, if they ever come out with an anti-glare protector for my SE (like this one) I’ll be all over it. The smudges and fingerprints on my screen are likely to drive me insane in a few weeks, but for now, I can look past them.

DiamondClad screen protector

Diamond Dog recently released their new DiamondClad tempered glass screen protector. No, there aren’t any diamonds involved, but their patented DiamondClad Carbon coating has been tested to be harder and stronger than leading competitors. While they claim their protectors are smudge-resistant, mine smudged frequently. Fortunately, it wipes clean easily enough and wasn’t a major inconvenience to me. Fingerprint resistance and overall clarity were great, and this is definitely a protector I would get again.

Tech Armor 

This is an anti-glare, anti-fingerprint film protector and it used to be my go-to for all my devices. It feels good on the phone and came in a fingerprint-resistant matte finish. It’s hard to beat the price when $8 buys you a three-pack, but honestly, you get what you pay for. While the protector does its job reasonably well I always wound up with air bubbles. This seems to be an unfortunate trend with thin, lightweight film protectors, one that their heavier, tempered-glass counterparts seem to avoid.

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