When Apple launched the iPhone 12 Mini last October, I wanted it immediately. I’m not usually an early adopter, but I had long tired of needing two hands to do anything on my iPhone 11. I was so excited to downsize that I placed an order right away. Within seven days of its official release, my new iPhone arrived, and it took only minutes to realize I needed something else: a case to protect the $699 investment I’d just made.
As this was one of the five most expensive things I have ever paid for, I ruled out the entire genre of aesthetically minded iPhone cases and started my search at OtterBox. Its cases, while pricier, cost a fraction of what you would pay to fix a cracked phone screen, and they dominate our guide to the best-reviewed iPhone cases on Amazon. Indeed, I have successfully used OtterBoxes to protect previous iPhones, but as someone familiar with the brand, I’m also very familiar with its biggest flaw: Nobody, not even people who recommend them, thinks its cases are particularly nice-looking.
I was reminded of that as I cycled through its various cases for iPhone 12s — something I would have done in a store before the pandemic but instead was doing via the mail, which made the process even more painstaking. First, I tried the clear Symmetry case. To the naked eye, its transparent body looks slimmer than the brand’s tanklike Defender case, but when it arrived, I learned that the clear body, while slim, is actually a smudge magnet that showcases a user’s fingerprints more than the thoughtfully designed Apple product within. Also, the case’s rounded sides aren’t an exact fit for the iPhone 12’s flatter ones, making it clunkier both to use (I had to apply a lot of pressure to the phone’s side buttons) and to carry in my pocket. I exchanged the Symmetry for a Commuter case. While it has flatter sides that make it a better fit, the Commuter is generally thicker (i.e., bulkier) than the Symmetry. And it has an annoying flap over the charging port that seems destined to tear with just one unfortunate snag. Back it went too.
It was while doing one last scroll of the OtterBox site that I noticed the brand had released two new cases it says are specifically designed for (all sizes of) the iPhone 12. One, the Figura, looked too artsy for my liking, but the other, the Aneu, made me pause. Looking far slimmer than the Commuter, it has a rectangular shape (and edges) and an open charging port. The body comes in a handful of simple, solid colors, and some styles have a bit more visual interest in the form of different colored sides and side buttons. With Goldilocks in mind, I clicked “buy” one more time. Most important, the case wraps snugly around my iPhone 12 without feeling as if I’ve added extra weight or girth. It slides in and out of pockets with ease, yet its sides have some grip to them so the case never feels as though it will slip out of my hand. And it still functions like an OtterBox where it counts: I’ve dropped my phone a few times since getting the Aneu case, and there’s not a scratch — on it or the phone — to be found.
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