By John Gruber
Atoms: We are not selling shoes this time…
So I got the Apple clear case for the iPhone XR this morning, and I still have my review unit, so I tried it out. In a nut: it’s great.
Feel-wise it’s sort of half plastic-y, half rubbery. Plastic-y enough that it doesn’t stretch from the edges of the phone. Rubbery enough that it feels nice and grippy without being too grippy — it slides in and out of a jeans pocket easier than an Apple silicone case. Unlike any of Apple’s other iPhone cases, there is a very slight lip around the camera cutout on this case. I don’t know why, but it means the phone doesn’t quite sit flush back-down on a flat surface. My best guess is that the case is so thin it needs the lip lest the camera bump jut out.
It is very clear. I’m not a case guy but everyone who is says clear cases yellow over time. I have no idea whether this case will yellow over time, because it just showed up this morning, but I will say it is perfectly clear right now.
I bought a $20 well-rated third-party clear case for the XR a few weeks ago, made by Totallee, and I’d say that case is OK. It’s way more rubbery, which means it has more (undesirable) give at the sides, and it isn’t quite as clear — even brand-new it’s already slightly more yellow-y.
Also, Apple’s clear case has no aroma. I’ve been trying a bunch of third-party iPhone cases recently and a lot of them literally stink.
As a point of reference, I use my iPhone without any case at least 95 percent of the time. So, maybe you should just ignore me. But when I do use a case, I want it for grippy-ness. My favorite cases are Apple’s leather ones — they’re a good balance of overall niceness, grippy-ness, protection, and button-feel. I think Apple’s silicone cases are too grippy — there’s too much friction going in and out of a jeans pocket. To me, this XR clear case is much closer in niceness to Apple’s leather cases than their silicone cases. Even the button feel is better than the silicone cases.
“Clear” is really hard to do well, and it’s no surprise to me that Apple has done it best — I think they’re the leading material design company in the world.
You can say $40 is too much for an iPhone case, but I’d say Apple’s $40 clear case is easily worth twice as much as the $20 clear cases I’ve tried. If I bought a XR and wanted to use a case, this is the case I would buy. It’s so good it makes me wonder why Apple doesn’t make clear cases like this one for the iPhone XS and XS Max.