I Stopped Using an iPhone Case and Maybe You Should, Too

iPhone 13 Pro
I started using my iPhone 13 Pro without a case, and it has been great. TYLER HAYES

There are a few things you can say to someone to make them instantly think you're crazy. "I don't use a case on my phone," is one of them. I have been using a case on my phone for the last decade, and I didn't plan on stopping this year. It happened gradually, and then suddenly it was gone altogether. The most surprising thing about not using a case on my iPhone is the realization that I don't actually drop my phone very much—at least so far—and don't need to always keep it in a bubble of sorts.

Up until a few months ago, I was using Apple's iPhone cases, and had settled on its first-party protection over recent years. Its leather cases were really pleasant when they had metal volume buttons. More recently, its silicon cases have become a lot more refined and a nice option, as well. Even if you're not a fan of Apple's phone cases, there are a lot of other good cases to choose from.

It wasn't for a lack of choice that I stopped using a case on my phone. While testing a lot of different mobile products, I decided to try Nomad's Leather Skin. It's basically a thick sticker and the most minimal type of protection you could use—as in: It will keep gunk and maybe scratches off the phone's back. But it was this product that finally made me realize a caseless future was possible.

I'll still be testing this year's new iPhone cases and may even go back to one at some point. I've realized I don't need a case, though. And it's not only while I'm home. I even traveled across the country without one wrapped around my iPhone. It can be done.

iPhone Case Protection

iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro is encased in surgical-grade stainless steel, which lends it a shiny, premium look. TYLER HAYES

The biggest reason a lot of us started using a phone case was for drop protection. The "better to be safe than sorry" mentality. These phones are expensive and one random, clumsy move shouldn't be the reason the screen shatters.

That's a legitimate concern, but on the flip side, Apple spends a significant amount of time talking about how it's making its phones stronger each year. The iPhone 13 Pro has a Ceramic Shield, which the company says is "tougher than any smartphone glass." The phone is IP68 rated for dust and water resistance. It's protected against falling in a pool or a toilet. The outer perimeter is also surrounded by surgical-grade stainless steel.

While each year brings new camera features, it also brings further enhancements to the iPhone's durability. I'm not counting on these items to leave my phone unscathed if I drop it on asphalt and then kick it across the ground while trying to pick it up. But I'm taking Apple up on its claims that it will be able to handle all the daily use wear a phone goes through.

The Heat

One reason I liked using a case in the early days of the smartphone was because of the heat it generated. Playing a game for an extended period of time, or even scrolling for too long on an app could make the phone uncomfortable to hold without a case. It wouldn't burn your hand, but sometimes it felt it came close.

Now, as I use the latest iPhone 13 Pro without a case, I've still noticed a little bit of heat or warmth, but not as much as previously. This problem seems to have been slowly improving over the years. I still sense warmth in some instances, but the area is much smaller and out of the way—on the left side near the volume buttons. Before it would be the entire back of the phone that seemed hot to the touch. I don't feel like I need a case to help alleviate this problem any longer.

Phone Case Personality

iPhone 13 Pro
The iPhone 13 Pro has a smooth finish on its back. TYLER HAYES

An argument for using a phone case was once exclusively about protection, but it's morphed into a more complex one that now includes self-expression and personality. Accessory-makers, fashion companies and nearly all enterprises in between have realized there is money to be made by selling phone cases.

The space may be crowded, but I think case-makers have gotten really good at making compelling products. Whether it's unique colors and styles or some kind of neat utility, there are now plenty of reasons to use put a case on your phone. Breaking it isn't even a concern.

Personally, I have liked switching cases midway through a yearly cycle. It meant that I got a new fresh new look every six months or so. All of this is to say, I understand attempting to make your phone look exactly like you want it to. There is something to that.

In this instance, however, I don't feel like I've really seen my phone's color in the last five years. I've never had time to get tired of it, because I covered it up right away. Again, like durability, color is an area Apple spends a huge amount of effort on. What I discovered is that the phones' color and finish are, in fact, really nice.

Last year I went with a bolder Pacific Blue, but I completely missed out on enjoying that color with it covered up. I only saw bits and pieces of it through holes in a case. This year I went with the basic silver because I wasn't planning on even looking at it. In September 2021, the phone's color didn't matter to me. Now it does. When new iPhones are released you can bet I will be more selective about the color I choose.

If you do like the idea of going caseless but still want to add some personality, skins from Dbrand or Nomad offer minimal ways to do that.

Using an iPhone Without a Case

I thought using an iPhone without a case would take up a lot of extra energy to handle it with care. It turns out, I handle the phone about the same and don't give it extra thought. I've come to really enjoy the benefits of a naked iPhone that's as thin as possible. It slides into pants pockets even more easily than with a minimal case.

There are other minor niceties. My MagSafe chargers no longer get stained by the color of the case I was using. My phone is actually cleaner now because dust and dirt don't become wedged under a case. The mute switch, volume buttons and right side button are all easier to feel for and use, too. (I haven't had any problems with the bump from the camera lenses.) If nothing else, not using a case on my phone has been a conversation starter more often than I would have guessed.

Apple's phones are premium devices, and it's easy to forget that when they're in cases. If you've felt the urge to ditch your iPhone's case for some reason, I would encourage you to try it out. It may be better than the last time you did. That was true for me. Now, after having been caseless for several months, I love it.

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