Haven't you heard? Apple has a new wearable out and it requires your care and protection. Naturally this means a bevy of exciting new accessories, much like how the original iPhone opened up the world's most profitable mobile accessory industry of our time. The Apple Watch is a shiny new gadget, and apparently one that arguably needs to be covered with a case. It's not like you're going to drop your Apple Watch like you easily could an iPhone, but chances are good enough that you will bump it into things and that might end badly for your first Apple-made wearable. So companies are jumping on the case making bandwagon now that the Apple Watch is up for grabs, arguably the most popular smartwatch on the market.
Spigen is one of the very first and notable accessory maker to take a shot at selling cases for the Apple Watch. Spigen is bringing all of its fan-favorites from the smartphone category to the Apple Watch with popular names such as the Tough Armor, Rugged Armor, Slim Armor, Thin Fit and Liquid Crystal. Sadly, the Spigen's Neo Hybrid has yet to make itself available for the Apple Watch. The good news? We've used and tested every single one of these cases for the Apple Watch so you won't have to be a beta tester yourself. Be sure to catch our full review and comparison of Spigen's entire Apple Watch case lineup after the break!
If you told me to put a case on my Omega timepiece I would most likely be offended by your apprehensive, and very much ridiculous suggestion. And despite the extraordinarily high sum of money one will need to pay for such a timepiece, no one seems to care quite as deeply as Apple Watch owners do over their $350+ beautifully designed and made smartwatch. But that's just it. High-end timepieces are bought and used as a prestige more than anything. Wearers want to show them off, not cover them up with a case or screen protector. The Apple Watch on the other hand is primarily a fitness tracking wearable designed to be used hard and sold off within a two year span in order to make way for newer and better generations. So it only makes sense to protect your investment with a...case.
There are three main reasons as to why you'd want to put a case on your Apple Watch - the obvious one being protection. Chances of you dropping your Apple Watch may be slimmer than accidentally dropping your iPhone - which will pretty much result in a cracked Apple Watch display - you're guaranteed to run your Watch into things like doors, door frames, car seat buckle, walls and plenty of other obstacles we all commonly face on a daily basis.
There are also those who are used to wearing larger sized watches and would like to give their Apple Watch a larger presence on their wrist. And of course there's the customization part of using a case where you can easily change the look and feel of your Apple Watch by putting a case on it that will not only provide protection, but a effectively different color and style as well – furthering the Apple Watch personalization eco-system on a more friendlier budget. It's important to note that neither of these Spigen cases interfere with removing or interchange the Apple Watch bands.
- Editor note: we're going to be reviewing each and every Spigen case currently available for the Apple Watch in one comprehensive review. We spent a considerable amount of time with all of them using a 42mm Apple Watch Sport, and each case will be given the rating we think it deserves. Please scroll down to see reviews on the Thin Fit, Liquid Crystal, Slim Armor, Rugged Armor and Tough Armor for the Apple Watch.
So you wanted a white Apple Watch but Apple never made one? Well now you can have your cake and eat it too. Spigen's Thin Fit it the perfect way of easily masking the original silver, Space Gray or Space Black color of your Apple Watch with one that is white. The Thin Fit's sleek and slim design fits over the Apple Watch and covers the metal nearly entirely with a hard polycarbonate shell that is styled to follow the rounded curves of the Apple Watch to a T. It's currently available for all 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch models in white, silver, black and champagne gold. So while you could color match your Apple Watch to your Sport band with a white Thin Fit case, you still can't do the same if you've got a blue, green or pink band. But that'll will surely change sooner rather than later once Spigen introduces more colorful options.
The cool thing or arguably novelty about using one of these Spigen cases is that they cover about 98% of the original color of the stainless steel or aluminum of the Apple Watch, which is great if you're looking to change the look and color of your particular watch even before considering the protective benefits that naturally go along with it. I picked white to cover my Space Gray Apple Watch Sport with a black band giving me that ultra-sleek Stormtrooper-esque color combo. I'm loving how this turned out so clean along with that deep black OLED display of the Apple Watch.
Here's one quick and cheap way of getting the gold Apple Watch Edition you've been salivating over. The Thin Fit and Slim Armor are both available in gold and literally turn your Apple Watch or Apple Watch Sport into a golden-colored wearable for under $20. And it's not just good looking paired up with a Sport band, it even looks great with other bands like the Leather Loop.
The fit is just incredibly perfect. The Thin Fit snaps on ridiculously easily over the front and all around the metal bezel of the Apple Watch - all while still retaining a very secure fit with absolutely no play what so ever. It's more of a faceplate than a case really. It also pops rights off when you want it to just as easily. All of these cases easily install over the Apple Watch, but require you to remove the band first except for the Thin Fit case, which simply snaps over the front and effortlessly clips over the edges of the watch without the band having to go through it.
The finish on the plastic isn't coated with any rubbery material or textured, though it does have a really high quality satin-like finish to it. It's also worth noting that the plastic doesn't feel cheaply made as weird as that may sound. It actually compliments the design of the Apple Watch Sport incredibly well. So much so that I really don't mind covering up the aluminum of my Space Gray Apple Watch Sport edition while giving me an entirely new look in the process. It's only a shame that Spigen put their logo on the front of the Thin Fit case. It's actually the only thing I dislike about this case. Though I'm sure you can rub it off if you tried.
Spigen's Thin Fit case for the Apple Watch features a low-profiled raised bezel around the display, with exposed cutouts for the Digital Crown, side button as well as the speaker and microphone. Nothing is obstructed by this case and it's incredibly inconspicuous in terms of wearability. While not the most protective, the Thin Fit is a great option if you're looking for light protection. But most of all it's a terrific case for creating your own personalized Apple Watch style. At $15, we'd highly recommend it.
The Spigen Liquid Crystal case for the Apple Watch is by far the thinnest case you can get that's see-through and will not cover up the original styling or color of your Apple Watch. There's isn't even a Spigen logo visible so you're really getting a very minimalist looking result overall. It's available in clear for all 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch models.
We can't say anything bad about how the Liquid Crystal case fits around the watch. This case fits very snugly with no wiggle room or play. Unlike the Thin Fit case which snaps on over the front of the Apple Watch, the Liquid Crystal installs from underneath the Apple Watch just like ordinary cases for the iPhone. This means that it fully covers the Apple Watch from all sides, leaving the sensors, Digital Crown, side button, speaker and microphone exposed. You will need to remove the band from your Apple Watch to slip this case on, and any Apple band will fit it just fine.
While the exterior is a clear glossy thermoplastic finish, the interior features a micro textured dotted pattern that gives the Liquid Crystal a slightly more interesting look up close. This pattern also prevents the clear plastic from smudging, or bubbles or creating a watermarking effect over the metal. The pattern is subtle, but noticeable up close. So in other words, this case isn’t entirely clear but still doesn’t take away from the original design of the Apple Watch in my opinion. It’s without a doubt the best option if you don’t want to cover your watch but still want that extra layer of stealthy lightweight bump and scratch protection. As with any clear TPU case, you should keep in mind that the material will turn yellowish after a certain period of time instead of staying brilliantly clear. We're starting to see that happening with our Liquid Crystal case, but it's really marginal.
We weren't very impressed by Spigen's Liquid Crystal case for the Apple Watch. It isn't made from high quality materials, but for what it's worth it's not a bad option if you want a see-through flexible case to protects your Apple Watch against scratches and dings.
The Spigen Slim Armor isn't as slim as you may think. It adds bulk to the Apple Watch and in exchange it offers all-around protection with an easy to install, one-piece design that fits snugly around the Apple Watch with no give at all. It's also the widest case out of the bunch, increasing the width of the Apple Watch considerably. Again, not a drawback if you want added protection as well as bulk. And despite that, the Slim Armor still feels really comfortable to wear and doesn't add noticeable weight for the Apple Watch. The Slim Armor will fit any 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch model. It's made from a flexible yet rigid TPU material and comes in silver, champagne gold, and white colors for under $20.
The included screen protections are a nice bonus, however they are awful. Cut to only fit the flat center of the display, they not only leave the outer edges exposed but they have a border that doesn't sit flush against the glass (white bubble-like result) leaving a very apparent look to the application instead of blending in over the display like normal screen protectors.
I must say the Slim Armor does look good on the wrist. The tapered edges give it a sleek but bold presence when fitted on the 42mm Apple Watch. The finish of the Slim Armor's TPU material isn't textured or matte, and does have some shine to it unlike the Tough and Rugged Armor cases which both have a matte stealthy finish that I personally prefer to the Slim Armor variant.
The flexible material protects the Digital Crown by covering the side with a bridge-like piece that is seamlessly integrated into the case. This does cause the crown to be more difficult to operate compared to every other Spigen case made for the Apple Watch including the Tough Armor case. Also, pushing the crown button is more difficult with that piece of material covering it. As for the bottom side button, the Slim Armor doesn't feature an integrated metallic button like the Tough and Rugged Armor models, but it does offer a response overlay button that covers the actual metal button to protect it. This case offers really good 360-degree worth of bump and scratch protection, but we dislike the poorly designed Digital Crown coverage.
I never though I'd see a squarish looking Casio G-Shock in my life, but that's just the type of look you're going to get with Spigen's Tough Armor and Rugged Armor cases for the Apple Watch. And that's not bad at all. It's quite amazing being that I've been an actual G-Shock owner/user for most of my life. Spigen's Rugged Armor case is available for all 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch models; and it's currently only available in either the black or in white you see above.
The Rugged Armor (left) is nearly identical to the Tough Armor case for the Apple Watch, except it's ever so less bulky, made from a single flexible piece of TPU and lacks a built-in screen protector. It also has a wider opening for the Digital Crown making it much easier to use and reach with a finger, yet still offering sufficient protection against impacts. It costs less than the Tough Armor, includes two screen protectors (albeit not very good), and it looks and fits great.
The Rugged Armor's flexible TPU material makes it an easy case to fit over the Apple Watch despite it being made out of a somewhat robust layer of thermoplastic. The fit is very good, but the flexible construction of the case does leave a tiny bit of play whenever pressure is applied to the top or bottom areas of the case. Only time will tell if this material will indeed stretch out and create an undesired fit around the watch. But for right now I can't fault the Rugged Armor all that much since I'm really nitpicking here. It fits just fine, but again you will notice some give in the case when pressing it against the watch itself. Definitely not a deal breaker what so ever. I'd still be using this case myself to be perfectly honest.
Of course Spigen's Rugged Armor will also provide drop, impact and scratch protection, but the Rugged Armor also adds unique styling as well as color to any Apple Watch model. Like the Tough Armor, the Rugged Armor fully covers the Apple Watch delivering superb protection from all angles. The raised edge around the display should protect it from damage to a certain degree. This is also a great case to pick if you want to give your Apple Watch some bulk as it does increase the diameter by a few millimeters. And although the Rugged Armor does add on bulk to the watch, it's just as comfortable to wear as Spigen's slimmest and thinnest case.
Despite the raised bezel of the case around the display, swiping up and down to access notifications and other settings on the touchscreen is no trouble at all. We should also mention that the Rugged Armor features a built-in metallic plastic side button instead of an opening or material overlay which makes pressing the side button to bring up Apple Pay and your contacts very easy and with sufficient tactile feedback.
Spigen's $15 Rugged Armor case for the Apple Watch is an easy recommendation if you're looking for rugged protection with a unique sporty look. It's one of our favorite cases right now for the Apple Watch.
And then there's this. The Tough Armor case. An Apple Watch case that's unsurprisingly...tough as nails. The Tough Armor case for the Apple Watch will cost you just under $20, and comes in this two-tone black and gunmetal colorway as well as in a black with a orange front and black with a champagne gold front. It has a built-in plastic screen protector to protect the Ion-X glass or sapphire crystal from scratching that fully covers the display from edge-to-edge.
It's the only Spigen case for the Apple Watch that's exclusive to the 42mm variant that features a two-part design which consists of a top, or front faceplate - made of a hard polycarbonate material that essentially protects the face of the Apple Watch from direct impacts while the rest of the Tough Armor's body is constructed out of a thick layer of TPU, which is great for absorbing shock. It also feels nice against skin and flexible so that wrapping it over the watch isn't hard at all. This is a very solid case and you can feel that when you're wearing your Apple Watch. I'm completely confident the Tough Armor is going to protect my Apple Watch from whatever it is that may pose as a threat to its existence.
The front piece already has the plastic screen shield attached to it and the entire thing snaps together with the TPU part of the case once you've slipped it over the watch.
Removing the Tough Armor's TPU body from the Apple Watch is simple. You can still easily remove the band by pushing through the flexible TPU material that is covering the band release buttons.
Of course none of these cases will actually protect the beveled back covering the heart rate sensors because doing so will prevent the Apple Watch from magnetically charging or accurately reading your heart rate. Which means that there's still a very good chance that this bottom portion could get scratched or worse if dropped or repeatedly placed flat on a table.
Like most built-in screen protectors, this one features a micro dotted pattern on the inside in order to prevent watermarking, which is when the film sticks to the glass unevenly. I'd have to say that I'm impressed by the Tough Armor's built-in screen protector. It doesn't watermark, doesn't feel like there's an air gap between the display and the plastic shield and touchscreen sensitivity barely takes a hit. You can see the dotted pattern in bright sunlight overlaying the display, but not when indoors. Not that it interfered with legibility.
Swiping and pressing still feels like your using a capacitive touchscreen instead of a resistive one. Visibly is very clear and crisp, with only a minor degradation in quality compared to using and viewing the bare display. I'd say this is definitely usable and a practical means of a highly protective solution.
You definitely don’t want to be taking your Apple Watch into the shower if you’ve got this case on, because if you do, water will get underneath the built-in screen protector and that’s bad…and inconvenient to say the least. That being said, I’ve had no trouble at all with the Tough Armor when washing my hands even when water would wash over the watch. However, if you are wearing the Apple Watch on your right wrist, then water will make it’s way into the case do to the larger opening around the digital crown. So no, the Tough Armor is not water-tight, unfortunately.
The thing I dislike most about using the Tough Armor is that is restricts the use of the Digital Crown. Not entirely, but it doesn't allow you to continuously slide your finger over the crown. And if you've got chubby fingers, you'll find that the recessed opening will make you have to use your nail. There's no arguing that the Digital Crown button and scroll wheel is safely protected.
I almost wish that they would have designed some kind of built-in digital crown button that protruded out of the side to make it easier to use - something like what Lunatik has done with the Epik case for the Apple Watch. Fortunately like the Rugged Armor, the side bottom underneath the Digital Crown has a dedicated metallic plastic button built into the TPU layer that's easy to press and offers good tactile feedback.
If your line of work require extra protection or you've just got one hell of an active lifestyle, get yourself a Tough Armor for your Apple Watch. You'll be happy you did. Otherwise look into Spigen's Rugged Armor, Thin Fit or Liquid Crystal cases, they're all very good options for under $15. Than being said, we can't quite recommend the Tough Armor if only because it restricts scrolling using the Digital Crown and doesn't have a water-tight screen shield.