The Samsung Galaxy S21 range is here, and while the smaller entries are still impressive, it’s the Galaxy S21 Ultra that’s stolen the show. With support for Samsung’s S Pen, a massive 6.8-inch display with a dynamic refresh rate, and an incredible quad-lens camera system, the S21 Ultra is the new smartphone to beat in 2021.
But while Samsung’s new giant is powerful in hardware and software, it’s less invincible when it comes to facing down the big, bad world. A concrete sidewalk will end your $1,200 phone just as easily as it’ll take out a $300 budget device, and while the Ultra has proven resistant to mishaps, your new phone will benefit from protection. Here are some great cases you can pick up right now.
Ringke Air Clear
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a gorgeous phone — especially the Phantom Violet color — and the last thing you want to do after buying one is hide it away. The Ringke Air clear case means you don’t need to. It’s made from flexible and thin TPU that provides a clear window to your phone’s style, while also providing some protection against minor scratches and bumps. So the thin material means it won’t be the best case for bigger bumps, and it’s definitely not a rugged case, but as an everyday case, it’s perfect. This case also comes with a lanyard attachment point, so if you need some extra drop-protection, you can add a wrist or shoulder strap.
Kate Spade New York Defensive Hardshell
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is pretty fashionable, but it’s a blank slate, and the right case can add a personal style. If style is what you’re looking for, consider this case from Kate Spade New York. This hard case uses premium materials to add protection to your phone, and the hard back layer is great against scratches, while the cushioned bumper allows for some decent drop protection. Button covers keep those protruding elements safe from harm, but the real headline act is the fashionable print. You have a choice of two styles, the Hollyhock Floral Clear (pictured above) or the Scattered Flowers Black, and both look fantastic. However, the price is a big stumbling block, as $50 is a lot of money.
Spigen Thin Fit
Spigen is one of our favorite case manufacturers because it provides a wide range of excellent cases made from premium materials — and the Thin Fit is one of its best. It’s a hardshell case that’s lightweight and thin but strong, and that makes it great for anyone who wants to ward off scratches and similar without adding bulk or using soft-feeling TPU. The hard polycarbonate has a soft touch coating, and the case finally comes with button covers, doing away with the exposed sides of earlier models. Of course, the hard material and relative thinness means this isn’t the case to protect against drops, and while it’ll give some protection, it won’t be as good at dispersing shock as a larger or more flexible case. Still, this a solid case and a strong option at a good price.
Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1
Wallet cases aren’t for everyone, but the ability to store spare cash and cards is still very useful, so you may feel pressured into buying a wallet case. Well, that’s why you call in a Wallet Slayer. Smartish’s case is a sleek and smooth-looking case, and it comes with an elegantly-included compartment on the back where you can quickly and easily stow up to three cards and some spare cash. Textured sides mean its easy to keep a grip on, while the system of airbags in the corners help to keep your phone safe against against drops and bumps. It’s not without downsides, and one of the major negative points is its size. The extra compartment adds a fair amount of thickness to your phone, but if you can live with that, then this is a great choice.
Tech21 Evo Check
Moving into the realm of some of the more protective cases, we head to Tech21’s Evo Check. This stylish case has some serious credentials backing it up, so don’t assume it’s all about the style. It has built-in impact absorption methods that help to protect it against drops from an impressive 12 feet (over 3.6 meters), and it has a non-slip grip to help keep it in your hand as well. A raised edging helps to keep your camera protected, and the materials themselves even have microbe-reducing capabilities, keeping the case clean and hygienic. All in all, this is an excellent case, but you’re paying a premium for this protection. However, if you can find it at a lower price, this is a real bargain.
Speck Presidio2 Grip
Speck is the king of grippy cases, and the Speck Presidio2 Grip case is why. Perhaps one of the most easily-recognized cases on the planet, the Presidio2 Grip’s iconic series of raised lines isn’t just for looks and adds some much-needed texture to a large and slippery phone. It’ll protect even if your grip does fail, though, as it comes with drop protection up to 13 feet (almost 4 meters), and Speck’s Armor Cloud technology cushions your phone like an airbag. A soft-touch finish means it feels great in the hand, and while the price is on the higher side, you’re getting an excellent product for the price.
Mous Limitless 3.0
A relative newcomer in the field of phone protection, Mous made waves when it showed off the extreme drop protection offered by its Limitless cases for the iPhone. Now on its third iteration, the Limitless range’s focus is still on drop protection, using Mous’s AiroShock technology to provide what it claims is “serious impact protection.” Mous hasn’t offered specific numbers for this case yet, but it should give protection against all but the absolute worst of drops. Adding further insulation against drops is an eyelet for a wrist strap and Mous’s magnetic AutoAlignPlus system of accessories. It’s very expensive, mind you, and you don’t get a huge amount of style for your money, but the protection is formidable. It’s currently available for pre-order.
Gear4 Denali Impact Protection
It might have changed its name, but the Denali case has lost none of its potency. One of the best cases for pure drop protection you’ll come across, Gear4’s Denali case is proof against drops from an incredible 16 feet high — that’s almost 5 meters. We can’t imagine you’re that high very often, but it’s always nice to know your case can go above and beyond what you need it to. It’s a simple design, but we’ve always had a soft spot for the orange inner and bold stripe on the outside. But as always, you’re paying a premium for this protection, and the starting price for this case is not cheap. But for strong drop protection, antimicrobial properties, and a relatively slim design, it might be worth the investment.
Official Samsung Clear View Cover Case
If you want a case for your Samsung phone, then starting with Samsung is a pretty good idea. Samsung makes a decent range of protective options for its phones, and the Clear View cover case is a classic. It clips snugly onto your phone and has a cover that folds over your phone’s display when not in use, keeping your screen safe from scratches and dirt. But the best part is that you might not need to uncover it as often as you might with another case, thanks to the Clear View window. This window allows you to see the time, battery life, and a number of notifications, including incoming calls and messages. It’s expensive, but it’s fun to use and very useful.
Otterbox Symmetry Series
We love Otterbox, but a lot of its cases are not the best looking. They’re usually charitably described as “utilitarian,” but Otterbox is starting to change that impression. While you can still get the Symmetry Series case in black or Rock Candy variants, the Shell-Shocked Graphic is the one we’ve highlighted, as it’s certainly a standout design. It won’t be for everyone, but it may allow someone with a particular aesthetic to buy a big rugged case to keep their phone safe — and it’ll definitely keep it safe, with a durable build against a range of damage and a silver-based antimicrobial coating as well. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a great case regardless of the chosen style.
UAG Monarch Series
Rugged cases can look a little underwhelming, but that’s never been true where UAG is concerned. Each of UAG’s cases looks undeniably unique, from the most understated to the most overt — and the Monarch series falls heavily into the most heavily-overt category. It’s the flagship of UAG’s range, and it’s obvious why when you delve into its specifications. It has five layers of construction, including a soft impact-resistant core, a strong outer layer, and a raised surround for your display and camera. Despite all this protection, it’s very light, and while the style may put some people off, it’s probably the most unique-looking case on this list, and that will appeal to some.
Lifeproof Next Antimicrobial Case
Lifeproof’s cases are … well, just that. The Next case is drop-proof, dust-proof, and snow-proof, giving you the protection you need to keep your phone safe against pretty much anything. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s IP68 rating means it doesn’t need much additional water resistance, but the additional resistances granted by this case should come in helpful regardless. It’s made from 50% recycled plastic, so its responsibly made, and the outside has been treated with an antimicrobial coating as well. Your phone ports are covered to stop ingress in those areas, and while it doesn’t come with screen protection, a raised edging will stop your display from resting on harmful surfaces. It’s currently available for pre-order.
Ghostek Atomic Slim
Ghostek is certainly making a name for itself, and with cases as good as the Atomic Slim, we can see why. The Atomic Slim uses a multilayer design with a soft inner layer and a hard outer shell to ward away bumps, scratches, and other hazards that could potentially damage your phone. A raised bezel helps to keep your phone’s camera lenses and big display protected when you set your device down, and the R7X shock-absorbing technology helps to shore up against drops and bumps. An excellent case, and although it comes at a relatively high price, it’s worth the investment to keep your phone safe.
LoveCases Blue Butterfly
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a gorgeous phone, but it could always do with something to make it a little more unique. Choosing a case with a fun and funky design will do that, and LoveCases’s Blue Butterfly case fills that brief nicely. We really like the eye-catching design LoveCases has added to this case, but it’s not all just about the looks. It’s made from slim TPU, which means it will hold up well against minor bumps and scratches, though you may wish to turn to something more sturdy if you’re anticipating harder knocks in your device’s future. It’s well priced though, and its modest protection means this will make a good everyday case.
Olixar Leather-style Wallet Case
There’s no case style more classic than the wallet case. It’s a simple design, but it’s proven a winner, and you’ll likely see wallet cases everywhere. While it’s not real leather — not at this price — Olixar’s leather-style wallet case is still a case you should consider if you’re looking for a wallet case at a lower price. The PU leather looks like leather, and while it doesn’t feel exactly like leather, it’s durable enough to keep your phone safe. An inner pocket has space for spare cash, travel cards, or credit cards, and it can fold into a landscape kickstand as well, making it perfect for video watching on that 6.8-inch screen.
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