Smartphone protection is big business, so here’s what you need to know about The Best Cellphone Covers

Everyone and his dog is selling “protective” cases for your fragile high-end smartphone, so we went down to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology structural engineering class and found out how to protect your phone.

What you want:
• A minimum 1.5 millimetre protruding bezel edge (around the screen) to protect the phone’s screen from a facedown drop.
• Reinforced corners and edging for increased protection.
• Easy access to controls and ports – a case should add protection without interfering with practicality.
• A screen protector will guard against scratches and hold chards together should your screen shatter.

Upside A tough, lightweight plastic with enormous strength.
Downside Bulky and not chic.
Protection Maximum.

Plastic or carbon fibre
Upside Lightweight and widely available in cool designs.
Downside Highly dependent on design and material thickness
Protection Low to moderate (design dependent)

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)
Upside The formfitting flexibility of silicon, but with better protection.
Downside Poor reinforcement, loses some shape and stretches out from overuse.
Protection Low.

Silicon or hydrocarbon
Upside Minimal profile, flexible, cheap and lightweight.
Downside Essentially just a skin to protect from scuffing and scratching.
Protection Minimal.

Our top four cases
Best looking
G-Form Xtreme (GS3/iPhone 5)
The outer polycarbonate shell reinforced with a special NASA-designed spongy “Reactive Protection Technology” (RPT) that hardens on impact fits over an inner TPU sleeve. There’s YouTube evidence of an iPhone 5 surviving a drop from the stratosphere.

Most versatile
Rokform Rokbed V3 (GS3/GS4/iPhone 4/5/iPad 2/3/4/Mini)
A complete polycarbonate case with a non-slip rubber insert (with an optional magnet) and rear cut-out for the integrated mounting system. The mounting system is the real star because you can buy a car or bicycle mount. There’s also a clip/bottle opener.

Tried and tested
Griffin Survivor (iPhone 5)
Its predecessor was the go-to rugged case for iPhone 4 users and the iPhone 5 version ups the ante with its three-piece construction and military grade rain, dust, wind and drop protection. You’ll invoke Sir Jony Ive’s ire with the considerable extra bulk, but who cares, right?

Apocalypse survivor
LifeProof Nuud (GS3/GS4/iPhone 5/iPad 2/3/4/Mini)
Yes, it costs a quarter of your actual phone, but it offers US military grade drop- (from 1.2 metres), dust-, and waterproofing (2 metres submerged for 30 minutes) while giving you uninhibited access to your beautiful touch screen. There is an optional screen protector film.
R1 299,