- 1 Overview Table
- 2 Speck Presidio Grip
- 3 Tech 21 EVO Check
- 4 Otterbox Defender
- 5 Caseology Parallax
- 6 Spigen NeoHybrid
- 7 Otterbox Symmetry
- 8 UAG Monarch
- 9 CM4 Silk
Every new phone deserves to be protected, especially when you have an all-glass Samsung S8/S8+. I owned the much more fragile S7 Edge with its steeper curved display. There wasn’t a day where I wouldn’t have the phone in a case unless I was briefly taking it out for a cleaning. Since Samsung opted for an elegant, unique design with the S8, the display is costly to replace. I haven’t seen the official cost to repair the phone's display yet; although I’d imagine it’s more than the $250 for the S7 Edge. No case will guarantee 100% protection for your phone, but it will provide significantly more protection than no case at all.
I will include numerous types of cases in this roundup from different companies. Feedback is always welcome, along with any questions. If there is a certain case you would like to see, drop me a comment below, and I’ll do my best to add it.
My S8+ has a screen protector installed with all the reviews. I opted for a simple wet install film after experiencing the many failures of glass screen protectors during my S7 Edge and now S8+ ownership. So far, I have found the case-friendly versions of these films work with most cases. If there happens to be an issue, I’ll do my best to note it where applicable.
|Case||Grip Grade||Buttons Grade||Price ||Drop Test Rating (ft)||Our Grade|
|Speck Presidio Grip||A+||A+||$45||10||A|
|Otterbox Defender||C+||A-||$60||Not Listed||C+|
|Tech 21 EVO Check||C||B||$40||10||B+|
|Spigen NeoHybrid||B||B||$15||Not Listed||C|
|Caseology Parallax||B+||A-||$14||Not Listed||B+|
|Otterbox Symmetry Metallic||D||C+||$55||Not Listed||C-|
|Otterbox Symmetry||B||B-||$50||Not Listed||C+|
|CM4 Silk||B-||B||$8||Not Listed||C|
|UAG Monarch||A||B||$60||52 drops at 4'||C+|
Speck Presidio Grip
Some people who read my earlier Pixel XL case comparison will know how I enjoy Speck cases. Their durability and feel are virtually unmatched. Pricing for their Presidio Grip line ranges from $40-45, and Amazon is usually a good place to find the case. Speck offers this case in a variety of colors, and even without the outer grip.
You won’t find any corners cut or edges broken here; Speck has hit another home run. The slanted rubber grips provide excellent slip resistance even with slightly wet hands. I appreciated the grip more when I was in the field visiting job sites. Now, the same welcoming grip helps prevent my phone from sliding off my desk, or across my center console.
The shell is composed of a very subtly textured polycarbonate, and the inner part is a soft, impact absorbing material. Speck has come a long way from their gigantic logo days - it's now just a tiny symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the case. And really, no case should have massive branding on the back. You won’t have to worry about flash ghosting, either, since Speck has placed a black ring around the camera cutout. Speaking of cutouts, I found no issue using the awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner, or heart rate monitor (HRM) with this case.
Inside, the edges are lined with skeletal looking chambers to help mitigate damage in the event your phone is dropped. (Remember how I mentioned the gigantic Speck logo earlier on? Now it lives inside the case, out of sight.) Each button has a very snappy tactile click.
Overall I could not be happier with Speck's latest case. My expectations for their products are always high; thankfully I was not disappointed. I cannot recommend their cases enough. The excellent track record they’ve had over the years speaks for itself.
|Grip||No case offers better grip with a unique look than Speck.|
|Design||Speck offers great drop protection in a slim package.|
|Durability||Over time the grips will wear down detracting from the look.|
|Price||At around $45 this case isn't cheap, though neither is the phone.|
Tech 21 EVO Check
TPU cases come in many variants, but none are quite like what Tech 21 offers. I haven’t found any TPU cases that come with a lifetime warranty or the unique design of Tech 21. Their cases aren’t inexpensive given their $40 MSRP, but if you're looking for a slim, no-nonsense case, this one could be for you.
Tech 21 was nice enough to send me not one or two, but four EVO Check cases. I’m excited to see the whole color lineup for once because without variety using your phone can get boring. I’m sure many of you prefer a black case at work, so why not have fun with a more colorful one at home?
Let’s start things off by looking at the case's outward appearance. The small checkered grid lines are raised a subtle amount to help protect your phone when it falls. Alongside the lower portion of the back, you will find a small Tech 21 logo (it could be smaller).
Both the top and bottom have been reinforced with thicker TPU giving you excellent drop protection. One downside to this added thickness is the larger-than-normal bottom cutouts. As a result, the case can become uncomfortable for some people to hold via the pinky-supported one-handed method.
I’ve found both the black and white cases to compliment my black S8+ better than the brightly colored ones my wife enjoys. Depending on your preference and phone's color, the brighter greenish blue or pink might suit you. My wife has a silver S8+ which looks great with all the cases, unlike my black one.
Unfortunately, there is an issue with the buttons. This isn’t something new to Tech 21 cases, but the buttons are awful to use initially. I’m talking about using some pliers to squeeze them due to how hard they are up front. I wanted to give the case a chance, though, so I used one for several days, and I can say the buttons do break in with use. They are now much easier to press and provide good - but not perfect - tactile feel. I suspect as time goes on the buttons will only improve more.
If you intend on using a dbrand skin, I’m sorry to say their added thickness will impair the phone's fit in these cases. I had no issues without a skin, but once I installed mine, it made the buttons unusable. I would advise against putting a skin on if you plan to use these cases.
Despite the button issue, the Tech 21 EVO Check proved to be a worthy contender for my favorite S8+ case. I particularly like the white one - it gives my phone a nice Stormtrooper look without compromising protection.
|Protection||Tech 21 offers some of the best protection with virtually no bulk.|
|Color||The large variety of bold color options gives you many styles to choose from.|
|Buttons||While the buttons do break in over time, their initial feel is less than ideal.|
|Cutouts||The bottom cutouts could be a little smaller to give the case more rigidity.|
When size isn’t a concern and you want the perceived ‘best’ protection, the Otterbox Defender is usually the first option to come to mind. Even with the $60 price tag, these cases sell, and for good reason. Amazon is usually your best bet to find one at a slightly better price than your local carrier store or big box retailer.
First, I want to state I am not a fan of bulky cases that still only provide average levels of protection. Otterbox used to stand alone in regard to impact resistance, but now, many slimmer cases offer the same protection with a lower profile. No matter what case you have on your phone, there's always some chance it may break when dropped, and the infamous Defender series is no exception.
Still, I want to applaud Otter Products (Otterbox’s parent company) for finally making their Defender slimmer. I compared it to my Pixel XL version and they managed to shave off about 5.5mm of bulk. That’s no small number when it comes to a case.
This new Defender does not feature the horrid built-in plastic screen protector, and I could not be happier with Otterbox's decision to remove this monstrosity. I know some people are likely to get upset about it, but there are better options out there - especially when you have a curved display.
On Otterbox's site, you can even customize your Defender for your particular phone, choosing the inner and outer shell’s colors. Of course, there is an added cost for this luxury ($10), but if I were a fan of the Defender, I would pay it. I was sent two different color Defender cases, so I had the chance to mix and match their parts for fun.
Each case is put through a suite of tests by Otter that includes drops, abrasion, chemicals, etc. I haven’t found the exact height used for their drop tests, but I would guess it’s at least 10' like most other cases. There are technically three layers of protection built into this case. First, you have the exterior slip cover, then the inner plastic shell, and finally a foam absorbent lining inside this shell. I have an issue with the inner plastic: it literally creaks like an old door while using the phone. I’m not sure if this is a common issue, but both of my Defenders exhibit this behavior The inner shell also messes with my film screen protector. After removing the phone, the inner shell would pull up my screen protector on one side. I found this to be caused by the tight fit. Of course, this won’t be an issue if you plan on simply leaving your phone inside the case.
Moving along to the outside you are met with the usual USB and headphone jack covers. I see no reason to have these when the S8+ has an IP68 rating against dust and water. The port covers cause a lot of unnecessary stress on any USB-C cable plugged into your phone, too. I can see this potentially expediting the wear on the port, so I recommend using wireless charging with one of these cases. (I tested my phone on both generations of the charging stand without any issues.)
There is ample grip with the Defender - not quite up to Speck’s level, though. There is also a nice bevel on the back to help you find the elusive fingerprint scanner. All the buttons function fine and feature the same smooth texture. I wouldn’t say they’re perfect, but the buttons have no issues clicking.
Alongside your case, there is an included belt holster if you want to feel super cool - it's just a simple belt holster with a strong clip. I know the case is still huge, and you probably need the holster because skinny jeans don’t like big things fitting in them. The cool kids use belt holsters, just like anyone who works in the field/construction or other industrial areas. You can orient the phone vertically or horizontally, too, making the holster a little more versatile.
While the Defender is not my cup of tea, I can see why it appeals to some people. There are issues, such as the creaking and the screen protector getting pulled up when removing the case. But, other than those small things which probably won’t affect most people, I think Otter Products made the same case they always have. If you feel you need a Defender, then get one; otherwise, I wouldn’t.
|Design||The included belt holster is a plus for anyone brave enough to wield this beast.|
|Color||Otterbox gives you numerous color options to choose from.|
|Quality||There should be no creaking while using a case, especially not one of this caliber.|
|Design||Port covers are largely redundant on a phone sporting IP68 dust and water resistance.|
Caseology is a new experience for me, having only bought them for my wife previously. She likes their styling more than I have in the past. Their Parallax case offers stiff competition for Spigen given their similarities, but the Parallax sells for $14 on Amazon - less than what Spigen charges for their NeoHybrid case. Spoiler alert: the Caseology version is much better.
In the cut-throat phone accessory market, you either make a good product, fix your current one, or die off. Spigen has neglected to fix their NeoHybrid case's flaws since at least the Nexus 6 era. Caseology stepped up their game with the Parallax, which is an excellent hybrid case.
There is an awesome looking and feeling geometric pattern on the backside and, unlike other similar cases, the texture here does add grip as well as look good. I was sent a few different colors of the Parallax ranging from the vibrant burgundy and rose gold to your usual black on black. There was one odd color in the batch, Orchid Grey, which is rather subtle. The color reminds me of Spigen’s Metal Slate with less pigment. I have a hard time distinguishing this color from the black version.
As I would expect from a case of this quality, the buttons are excellent. I especially enjoy how Caseology tapered the edge of their rear cutout. The HRM has a larger grove, while the fingerprint scanner one is more subdued. This allows you to easily tell which is which while using the case. Let’s not forget how the plastic band around this case doesn’t bow outward like a certain other brand. Caseology nailed the design here.
No drop rating is listed for this case, although I suspect it can handle at least 5' based on experience. I have dropped my S8+ a few times already due to my clumsiness. My tile floor at home didn’t hurt the case or my phone, thankfully.
I think Caseology is a great company based on what I’ve seen so far; I own a few other cases from them which will also be added here later. Most of them are ones I’d buy in the future, and with prices lower than Spigen, Caseology offers great design without the compromises. Needless to say, I recommend this case to anyone wanting style.
|Grip||Caseology's geometric back offers excellent grip.|
|Design||The outer plastic band is rock solid adding to the great feel of this case.|
|Design||More colors and patterns should be offered with the otherwise great case.|
Spigen has yet again slightly changed the design of their beloved NeoHybird series, and I have mixed feelings about the current version despite some improvements. Currently, Amazon has the case listed for $15-18 depending on the color.
Spigen has tried to eliminate the outer band from bowing around the volume and power buttons with a revised design. I found the issue to persist, albeit in a lesser form. Their color portfolio has improved with an all-black version and some cool combinations, including a red and gold that's a bit Iron Man-esque. The back texture has a pleasant appearance, but puts aesthetics above functionality. Despite the appearance of a ‘grippy’ surface, the texture is very slick.
My Shiny Black NeoHybrid had its outer band get extensively scratched after a few short uses. I firmly believe cases should at least hold up to moderate usage without showing signs of wear within the first month. My wife particularly enjoyed her Violet/Gold NeoHybrid even with the slippery lack of texture, and hers didn’t show as much wear due mostly to the different finish on the plastic outer band. Along the back, there is an extended band whose purpose is to offer some rigidity to the case. I found this section on the lower back to occasionally pop out of the TPU shell, much to my displeasure.
Nothing is new with the buttons, all offer a nice click. Some changes have been made to the button cutouts since their S7 Edge model I last had. Most importantly, the plastic bumper no longer fully envelopes the buttons, allowing for less restricted movement. The camera cutout also has a slight bevel for easier sensor access. Each cable I tested worked just fine, including the factory one, thanks to the decent cutouts.
Still, there is absolutely no reason I can recommend their NeoHybird over Caseology’s Parallax after using both. Spigen needs to improve their NeoHybrid by fixing the outer band bowing issue and adding a little more grip. I’m still happy to see their cases getting a little better each time.
|Looks||Spigen knows how to make a great looking case in all colors.|
|Buttons||After many iterations of questionable buttons, Spigen has finally gotten it right|
|Grip||Don't be fooled by the nice pattern, this case might as well be made of butter.|
|Design||I experienced issues with the outer band bowing outward.|
The Symmetry is Otterbox’s slimmest case. Conventionally, Otterbox made this series in plain colors like their Defender. Now, you can also buy metallic and clear versions on Amazon from $50-$55 depending on the color combination.
Unfortunately, I find the case to lack any form of durability because of how Otterbox finished the back.
I don’t have many kind words for this case other than its initial resemblance to the silver S8+. I was outside taking pictures of the case before using it so I could get pictures in case it got damaged. My fears were immediately realized when I picked the case up from my brick backdrop only to find significant scratches. Keep in mind I was very careful while posing the case for pictures as I always am. To me, this was an immediate red flag given the high price tag. I contacted Otterbox regarding the design flaw, and I’m currently awaiting their response.
Aside from the awful choice of materials and metallic finish, I found the Symmetry to be a very pleasant-to-use case. You will find some bulk, more than Speck’s Presidio Grip in addition to the slippery backside. Branding on the back is a turn-off for me when it comes to this case. This is especially annoying when their logo is plastered along the side above your power button, too! One logo on a case is enough, and I would appreciate if Otterbox removed the back logo in favor of a side-only one. It should be very obvious who makes the case even without giant branding everywhere given their reputation.
One pleasant surprise was how well the buttons work relative to those on their Defender series. I usually expect bigger cases to have issues offering tactile feedback because of the heavy-duty materials. Thankfully, they all function just fine on the Symmetry. You also get a nice sloping cutout to help locate the fingerprint scanner. The same luxury isn’t given to the HRM, which most people won’t mind. Per the Otterbox style, their 'go big or go home' trend continues with the oversized port cutouts. Honestly, 99.9% of cases have no issues fitting most USB-C cables. I haven’t run into that problem since my Nexus 6P. The same goes for the 3.5mm headphone jack. I use a variety of headphones ranging from your standard Bose QC 35’s to my B&O earbuds; even my large PC headphones fit just fine.
When this review was first written I only had the metallic Symmetry case. After speaking with Otterbox, I was informed that my silver Symmetry was likely defective. Otterbox then sent me a standard black non-metallic version. After using the case for a day now, I’m happy to say the issues are not present with this version. I found the normal material to hold up significantly better, while also having more grip than before. If Otterbox sends me another metallic case, I’ll add an update to the review with any changes.
Right now I would stay away from their metallic Symmetry and instead buy the normal one. Every issue I listed stemmed from the awful metallic case. Now that I have the standard one, things are great.
|Design||The non-metallic symmetry feels great with the small added weight.|
|Material||Otterbox's outer material offers excellent grip on surfaces in any color but metallic.|
|Durability||Metallic cases show scratches immediately making your ~$40+ case look like garbage.|
|Grip||Whatever outer coating/material is used on the metallic case makes it the most slippery one to date.|
UAG makes some interesting rugged alternatives to Otterbox. The case I was sent comes from their heavy-duty Monarch line, presumably meant to compete with the Otterbox Defender. Interestingly, the price is identical; Amazon has the UAG Monarch listed for $59.99.
When I first picked up this case I was immediately met with some disappointment. The whole outside is very smooth, even with the The Thing-inspired outer grips. UAG says there are five layers to this case. I will attest to that statement, but I see no benefit to them. The faux screws remind me of the tacky Supcase Beetle from a few years back. If these screws served a purpose, I could see including them. Otherwise, it looks tacky. I found this case to be even more cumbersome than my Defender because the edges are more squared off. This design led to a very bulky, uncomfortable feel, eclipsing even obnoxious folio cases.
Each layer feels tackier than the last. First, the outer shell is a plastic (polycarbonate) like material. I would have preferred to see the first line of defense to be TPU, or a better impact dispersing material. Next, there is “top grain leather” that certainly feels fake (recall Samsung’s Note 3). Following the ‘leather,’ there’s a rubber layer before the final alloy hardware. The alloy hardware does not interfere with NFC, Samsung Pay, or wireless charging from what I’ve seen. At some point, I think UAG was trying to do anything to set their case apart from the ever-growing crowd. UAG also really wants the world to know you have a UAG case, via a massive logo stamped right in the middle.
I found wireless charging to work despite the previously-mentioned alloy hardware inside the case. One thing I found useful about the numerous layers was the inclusion of a fingerprint cutout. While I don’t use the fingerprint scanner on my S8+ more than a few times a week, this might be useful to others who do. UAG put some thought into the buttons, unlike other companies. The pointless Bixby key and power button both feature a nice aggressive texture, while the volume rocker is smooth. Despite this, the buttons don’t stick out far enough, making it hard to locate them on occasion. Thankfully, each one functions fine once you’re able to wrestle your thumb up the case.
UAG tried to put too much work into differentiating this case from others, though, and it's an unappealing mess. I would happily buy other bulky cases over this one because they follow the S8+’s curved back better. No one wants to hold a boxy case just because a company wants to be different. I would look elsewhere before giving UAG a try with their Monarch series. Perhaps the conventional Plasma series would be a better bet. I don’t have one, so I cannot say with any certainty that it would be better.
|Grip||UAG comes close to rivaling Speck with their great grip.|
|Design||I haven't found any case as strangely interesting as this UAG.|
|Bulk||While the case offers good protection, its shape makes it cumbersome.|
|Design||A belt holster would have been ideal to compensate for the sheer size of this case.|
CM4 was not a company that I'd heard of before some of their cases showed up at my door. Their Silk series cases I received appear to offer a nice mix of grip and slimness for a relatively low price of ~$8.
I have some slim TPU cases currently that will be reviewed later, but none are quite like the CM4 Silk. I found their combination of textures to be quite enjoyable compared to the usual Spigen or Ringke TPU offerings. Along the sides, there is a nice lightly-textured border that does provide some grip. The backside is thankfully smooth, because having the same texture can sometimes hurt more than it helps. I truly enjoy how lightweight it feels, the CM4 Silk might even weigh less while also offering more protection than my Spigen thin-fit, which is quite a feat.
Due to the case’s thin profile, the sides will pull away from your phone. I fear the thin material could be troublesome in the event of a drop. The last thing anyone wants is for their phone to pop out of its case when it hits the ground. I’m not going to test this for the sake of a review because I like my S8+ and would prefer the screen to remain functional. Branding is subtle here, down on the lower back corner, though I would prefer logos to stay along the edge of a case. It could be much worse, so I’ll try to ignore it given its size.
The blue-colored version features a black ring around the camera cutout to prevent the flash from flaring in pictures. Each cutout seems to be adequately sized as to not interfere with regular cables/headphones. Due to the thin sides, the buttons work exceptionally well.
CM4 made a compelling case that isn’t without some flaws. I would have liked the sides to be a little firmer, but other than that this case is great. I prefer the low profile over some others that I’m currently testing, especially with the textured sides. For $8 you can’t go wrong, if you don't mind a little less protection for the sake of superior comfort.
|Design||I enjoyed the minimal design of the case.|
|Grip||Holding the case is very pleasant due to its nice texture.|
|Durability||The side material is too thin, allowing the case to pull away easily along each side.|
|Logo||Companies should always do their best to keep branding minimal along the backside.|
- Spigen Slim Armor CS
- Spigen Wallet S
- Spigen Slim Armor
- Spigen Tough Armor
- Spigen Rugged Armor
- Spigen Thin Fit
- Spigen Rugged Armor Extra
- Spigen Liquid Air Armor
- Spigen Ultra Hybrid
- Spigen Air Skin
- OtterBox Strada
- Tech 21 EVO Wallet
- Caseology Vault II
- Caseology Legion
- Caseology Vault I
- Caseology Fairmont
- Ringke Slim
- Ringke Oynx
- Ringke Flex S
- CM4 Q Card Case
- Moshi Napa
- Moshi Vitros