Sunday , July 22 2018

Now that the review of the Galaxy S9 series is done, it’s time to look at the vast range of cases that are on offer. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had case manufacturers getting in touch asking if we’d like to take a look at their latest products, and we’ve said yes to them all. I now have more Galaxy S9+ cases than I care to mention, but I’m going to run through all the ones I’ve tried out here, so if you need to buy a case, you’ve got some good advice on where to look.

Heads up, here are the brands I’ve reviewed today:

  • Tech21
  • 3SIXT
  • OtterBox
  • Lifeproof

These are four of the larger case brands you’ll find in any self-respecting mobile accessory store. Of course, you can get the white label brands from the Westfield mobile case store, but if you’re after something with a bit of quality, it does pay to spend a little bit extra. That said, Samsung has thrown a small spanner in the works this year, including a simple silicone TPU case in the box with every new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. While it’s functional, it isn’t remarkable, so if you’re after something with a bit more flair and pizazz, keep reading.

Tech21 cases

Tech21 is a British brand, and they’ve been making cases for Samsung, Apple and co for a while now. They sent us two cases to review for the Galaxy S9+.

Evo Wallet

Though I’ve recommended wallet cases to others for quite some time, and though I know people who use them, I’ve never actually been one of those people. I could see the appeal of having just one thing to carry in your pocket (beside your keys), but I have a few cards and didn’t fancy having a case stuffed fat with cards trying to sandwich that and a phone into a case.

So anyway, I tried the Evo Wallet, and made do with just carrying two cards, which is what the Evo Wallet can carry. The Galaxy S9+ shared the Evo Wallet with my drivers’ licence and my ANZ Visa Debit card, and everything else remained in my wallet which sat in my bag.

For a few weeks, this hasn’t presented a problem even once. I rarely pay with my cards anyway, using Google Pay for everything I can, but there’s some things you still need a physical card for – e.g. withdrawing cash, and as a safety net just in case your phone stuffs up or goes flat while you’re eating lunch (it HAS happened).

For the most part, the Evo Wallet was ace. Really the only thing that annoyed me was having to constantly close the cover and open it when I wanted to use the phone again, and it made putting the case in a car mount a little bit difficult. I want to move to a different case for my daily carry, but I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to carrying an actual wallet again.

Tech21’s Evo Wallet for Galaxy S9+ is $64.95, and its available in Black and Pink. I wouldn’t buy the Pink one though .. it’s really not appealing.

Evo Check

The EvoCheck is slightly cheaper at $54.95, but it’s more of a standard case. It’s billed as offering 12 foot drop protection (which I can well appreciate from the design of it), it is very thin, and it doesn’t interfere with your NFC, wireless charging or anything else.

The sides are quite rigid, and the back is quite flexible, with a neat little cross-hatch pattern on it. It looks good and offers fairly good all-round protection for your Galaxy S9+.

Probably the only area where the protection is a bit lacklustre is the front – there’s no screen covering, and the ridges at the top and bottom of the case aren’t especially pronounced. Yes, if you put the phone face down on your desk, it won’t get scratched – it’s enough to protect against that – however if you drop the phone on cement, tiles, gravel or anything else, there’s virtually no protection for the front of your phone here. You’d want to hope that, if you’re going to drop the Galaxy S9+ in this case (or most others we’ve looked at) that it lands on the side or the back.

Tech21’s Evo Check is $54.95 and available in a range of colour highlights.

3SIXT

3SIXT sent us three cases to take a look at, as well as a tempered glass screen protector. I took a look at that, first, because I was somewhat less inspired by the three cases they sent.

There’s not much to say about a tempered glass screen protector; the idea is that they fit neatly onto your phone and offer fairly strong, resilient protection to the front of your phone.  3SIXT’s Edge to Edge Glass Screen Protector does exactly what it promises – it covers the front of the screen, including the curved edges, minimises scratches on your phone’s screen, prevents smudges, and most importantly, it’s case friendly.

In the past, tempered glass screen protectors and cases haven’t exactly been a match made in heaven, and quite often applying a case after applying one of these screen protectors would simply crack the protector, and you’d be very unhappy.

3SIXT’s screen protector works with all of their own-branded cases, and fit comfortably within Tech21’s as well.

I had only one criticism.. in order not to come unstuck when cases are fitted.. the screen protector doesn’t reach all the way to the edge. It’s a tiny difference, but your fingers will feel it, and it does get a bit annoying. The other minor annoyance is that the glass feels qualitatively different to the glass of the Galaxy S9+ display, and it takes a bit of getting used to.

At $34.95, 3SIXT’s offering is not all that expensive for a tempered glass screen protector and you can buy it from their webstore. There’s also a cheaper, non-glass option for $19.95 which we didn’t review, but is (probably) a better choice.

3SIXT Pureflex Case, Neo Case and Slimfolio

Starting first with the PureFlex Case, 3SIXT have a fairly simple, clear case here, but despite the name, it’s not all that flexible. It features soft sides and a fairly rigid back, offering slightly more protection than an all-round soft TPU style case like Samsung included in the box.

There’s not too much to say about it – it’s easy to apply, and being clear, it doesn’t detract at all from Samsung’s design of the Galaxy S9+. Probably my only criticism is the ridges between the sides and the rear, which are quite pronounced if not sharp. If you’re someone who’s easily annoyed by things that feel out of place, this might bother you.

For everyone else, this is a good, cheap, sturdy case. It’s priced at $24.95.

The Neo Case and Slim Folio are two of 3SIXT’s cases that I didn’t like so much. The promise of the Neo Case is solid – it’s two cases in one, a wallet case that solves the problems of removable cases by giving you a removable clip-in insert which allows you to more readily put your phone in a car holder, and it magnetically pops back into the leather case when you’re on the go.

At $39.95, the 3SIXT Neo Case is not super expensive (it’s quite a bit cheaper than Tech21’s wallet case, for example) but the downside is that it’s fat and I don’t mean in a kind of cuddly loveable way, it’s downright large. The Galaxy S9+ is already big enough as it is, but this case makes it outright enormous.

The Slim Folio is much better in this regard; the Slim part of the name it lives up to, and it’s a much more reasonable size. Like Tech21’s Evo Wallet, it’ll hold two cards fairly comfortably, and it doesn’t have a catch to keep the case closed – for some, this will be undesirable, for others, a blessing.

I like that it sits fairly flat even with two cards in (as some wallet cases sort of burst open a bit with cards actually inside), but the lack of a catch means that the wallet case does kind of flap about in the breeze.

On the plus side, there’s plenty of protection on offer, and I have little doubt that – if dropped – the Slim Folio would offer a high degree of protection for your fairly expensive smartphone. On the down side, the case material is quite firm, meaning the power and volume buttons are quite a bit harder to use, and the fingerprint sensor is recessed quite a bit in the rear of the case, making it somewhat hard to access.

At $29.95, the price is definitely right.

OtterBox

This time around OtterBox sent us their Symmetry series sleek protection case. Promising drop protection with an ultra-slim one-piece design, this isn’t your giant OtterBox defender that’s designed to withstand nuclear blasts and which comprises a number of interlocking pieces. Rather, it’s a simple case easily put on and removed, with a softer insert and a rigid back for strength.

Of course, it adds a bit of bulk to the already-large Galaxy S9+, but it isn’t an unmanageable size. It offers reasonable front protection too with accented chin and top so that if you drop the phone face down, there’s a good chance it’ll be protected on hard surfaces, but an uneven surface (e.g. gravel) may still present enough of a risk of cracking your screen. Despite the greater protection offered over some other slimmer cases, the OtterBox Symmetry case still offers tactile feel for the volume and power buttons, without making them excessively hard to press.

I quite like the balance between protection and minimal added size here, and the OtterBox Symmetry is easily a favourite. OtterBox Symmetry is available from $49.95 from OtterBox.com and from select stores (JB HiFi and the like usually sell these). The other OtterBox cases are available here.

LifeProof

LifeProof have their usual array of cases available for the Galaxy S9+ including their signature Fre case which offers waterproof protection and (pretty decent) drop and impact protection too. However, we’ve reviewed those cases before plenty of times, so this time around we’re looking at the LifeProof Slam range. This is a lighter-weight case which doesn’t offer waterproofing, but considering the Galaxy S9+ is already water resistant, many people might not want that level of additional protection anyway.

In many ways, the Slam case is like the Fre, without the all-around seal, and without the plastic screen covering. It’s a two-piece design with a rigid clear plastic rear and a less-rigid (but still pretty hardy) rubberised ring to go around your phone. It’s a snug fit, and it does add a little bit of size to the Galaxy S9+ too. It’s on par with the OtterBox Symmetry for size, but with a little more harder plastics.

I’m not entirely sure which one would be stronger in a real-world drop test, but my guess is the LifeProof Slam would do pretty well. LifeProof Slam is available from $74.95 online and in all good mobile accessory stores. You can explore the rest of the LifeProof series for Galaxy S9+ here.

 

What’s your favourite case range for your mobiles these days? We love feedback, so please chat with us in the comments!

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag. He saw the transition from AMPS to GSM, loved the Motorola StarTac, and got into Palm technologies in a big way. The arrival some years later of the original iPhone, and then the early Androids, awoke a new interest in mobile technology, and Chris has been writing about it since.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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Had Tech21 Evo Check + Tech21 self healing screen protector on the S8+ = pretty good protection.
Gone with included Samsung Clear plastic case and Incipio self healing screen protector on the S9+.

The included Samsung case is much thinner (and feels sleeker) than the Tech21 but doing the job for now. The Incipio self healing screen protector seems OK but again thinner than the Tech21. No probs so far.

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Are you able to use a screen protector with any of these cases without the case itself causing the protector to lift? I’ve found only Samsung cases used in conjunction with the screen protectors afford a decent fit.

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