At first glance they look very similar, they feel similar, and if you weren’t paying attention you probably wouldn’t even notice a difference.
Firstly to take a step back, you’re probably wondering what TPU is? TPU stands for “Thermoplastic Polyurethane”, and is kind of the “new kid on the block” in terms of case technology. It’s a soft, rubbery-textured plastic that is firmer than silicone and generally comes in a larger variety of colours and patterns.
Here are the differences at a glance:
- TPU cases have a really good grip. It holds firm on the dashboard of your car, and will never slip out of your pocket (well, rarely!). In fact sometimes I see this as a bit of a negative as it can really stick to the inside of your pocket making it hard to get out. They can also be a bit of a dust magnet. But if you want a case with excellent anti-slip properties this is your best bet.
- TPU cases are firm and less flexible than silicone. One of the biggest complaints I often hear about silicone is that the sides can get a little floppy. It’s less of a problem with phones but on larger devices like tablets the problem is really magnified. TPU cases have a rigid structure so they have the dual benefits of being soft like silicone but being very firm almost like a hard plastic case in some ways.
- TPU is a more versatile material, which means it’s available in a larger variety of colours and styles. Silicone cases only allow semi-transparent designs (like a frosted styled surface) however you can have truly transparent TPU cases, with very detailed patterns.
Pictured above: iLuv Wave TPU case
- Silicone is virtually indestructible! Ok well not indestructible, but very tough. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one scratched (whereas TPU cases pickup scuffs relatively easily) and can be washed.
- Silicone cases tend to pick up dust but not as badly as TPU cases. Still, I wouldn’t recommend a black one because of this.
- Silicone also has really good anti-shock properties. I think it holds up better than TPU.
Overall it’s a tough choice. Personally I think silicone is the better material – it feels smoother and softer, but I really like the firmness of TPU. I would never buy silicone for a tablet, for example. Long story short, I don’t think you can go wrong either way!