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The good, the bad, and the crazy: The coolest phone cases at CES 2018

selfly coolest phone cases at ces 2018
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The first event of the tech year’s calendar, the Consumer Electronics Show (known to friends as “CES“) is always a mixture of the new, the useful, the bizarre, and all the tech in between. But what does that mean for the most humble of smartphone accessories; the protective case? They’re certainly not safe from the CES effect, and we’ve seen some amazing things this year. So you’re not left out, we’ve gathered up just a few examples of the best and coolest phone cases at CES 2018. Here are the newest, the most innovative, and the just plain bonkers.

AEE Aviation ‘Selfly’ Case

AEE Aviation Selfly "Flying Smartphone Case" at CES 2018

How could we not mention this little beauty? There’s definitely a market for phone cases that add extra utility to a smartphone, and this case that comes with a little surprise clipped onto it might be the biggest addition we’ve ever seen added onto a phone — a teeny-tiny drone that attaches to your case and is available at a moment’s notice.

But we’re not supposed to call it a drone. Despite the fact it looks like a drone, sounds like a drone, and probably quacks like a drone, Mike at AEE wants you to think of the Selfly as a flying smartphone case, and an extension of your phone’s capable camera. While you can certainly fly it around like a drone, the Selfly’s primary use is photography; and specifically, getting the very best group selfies imaginable. As Mike points out, imagine you’re trying to take a selfie with 20 of your best mates — your arm only reaches so far! By flying the Selfly up and into a position where you can get all of you in, you can get the very best picture every time.

And the specs back it up; the Selfly has a 13-megapixel camera that’s also capable of taking full HD 60 frames-per-second (fps) video. Four minutes of air-time gives it plenty of time to take the photos you want, and it even comes with an extra battery. And when it runs out, you can charge it via your phone’s battery if there’s no wall plug available.

Can we say for sure that the Selfly will be primarily used for photography? Nah; it’s too much fun to have a minidrone (sorry, Mike!) attached to your phone that you can whip out any time. Regardless of your intended use, the Selfly is going to be available for $139 when it releases, but you can pre-order on Indie Go Go for a reduced price of $109. The Selfly is available for the iPhone 6s, 7, and 8 — and the Plus models too — as well as the new iPhone X. For Android fans, it’ll also be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S7, S7 Edge, S8, and S8 Plus, as well as having a universal connector for all phones between 4-6-inches.

Montblanc Leather Case for the Huawei Mate 10 Pro

huawei montblanc mate 10 pro case
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Huawei may have been blocked from entering into deals with major U.S. carriers, but that’s not stopping it from releasing one of the best smartphones of this year into the U.S. market. The Mate 10 Pro (which we adore) is going to be available from multiple from February 4, with prices starting at $800. But there’s more: If you order around release, then you’ll also get a $150 gift card thrown in as well, bringing the effective price of that excellent phone down to $650. Bargain.

How is Huawei celebrating this? They’ve teamed up with famed luxury retailer Montblanc to offer one of the most sumptuous and luxurious cases we’ve ever seen. The case is made of a soft-grain premium leather that wraps fully around the phone and keeps it safe from bumps and scrapes. But you don’t buy a case like this for the protection — simply put, it’s gorgeous, from the gentle, understated style, to the shiny edging that highlights the Mate 10 Pro’s lenses and fingerprint scanner.

What’s the catch? It’s only going to be available in China later this year. Gah! Fingers crossed for an international version! But all isn’t lost if you’re really desperate for some serious style. Porsche will also be releasing their special version of the Mate 10 Pro in the U.S. on February 18, with prices starting from $1,125. Keep an eye on Porsche’s store for that one.

i-Blades Smartcase gets even smarter

With CES being full of newly “smartified” devices, it’s no surprise that someone has set their mind to making smart cases. We’ve had our beady eye on i-Blades’s cases for some time, having first covered it back in 2015. Since then they’ve gone from strength-to-strength, supplying cases that boost a phone’s available memory, battery life, and — incredibly — even monitor the air quality around the phone, keeping the user aware of the quality of their air.

How did i-Blades make its cases even better this year at CES? By following the fine principle of adding even more cool stuff! New to the range are a series of magnetically-attached battery packs called “Smartblades.” These snap onto the backs of the i-Blades cases and transmit power through a wireless connection. And when it’s time to recharge, you can magnetically stack a number of them to the same charger, charging all of them at the same time.

But that’s not all — i-Blades also announced a partnership with THX (you know, the company that made THAT sound effect) that brings THX’s AAA (Achromatic Audio Amplifier) technology to a phone case. What does that mean? In simple terms, less distortion from your phone’s speakers when playing music and other audio — which should be a welcome addition for any audiophile.

At this time, i-Blades pretty much only has cases for the Samsung Galaxy range, but it will be introducing cases for the latest iPhones in 2018. Keep an eye on its store for more info!

Speck Presidio Mount Case

speck presidio mount
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Not everything we saw at CES was completely bonkers. Speck has a reputation for supplying some of the best smartphone protection you can get, and they’re continuing that exceptionally strong tradition by partnering with magentic mount-magnates Scosche to bring users the ultimate in magnetic iPhone case protection that really protects and doesn’t impede wireless charging.

Up until the iPhone 8 and beyond, wireless charging had to be a sore spot for many iOS devotees; Android flagships had been charging without wires for a few years, and that’s why it’s so important now that cases don’t impact on their ability to just plonk their device down on a pad and walk away. The two metal plates embedded into the Presidio Mount case are above and below the wireless charging coils in the latest iPhones, so the metal does not block the wireless charging. Those metal plates also work with all of Scosche’s excellent Magic Mount series of magnetic car and desk smartphone mounts.

But that wouldn’t be enough to get on this list. No, the Presidio Mount also has some admirable protective qualities as well. Two layers of protection help to shield your iPhone from damage: An inner core of “Impactium” absorbs shocks, while the outer layer of rigid polycarbonate protects against more direct threats. Speck says its proof against drops of up to 10 feet, and if that’s true then that’s an impressive amount of protection in a slim case.

The Speck Presidio Mount case is currently taking pre-orders ahead of a February release. Picking one up for your iPhone will set you back around $45 for an iPhone X or 8, whereas the 8 Plus’s case will cost $50.

LuMee Duo X

LuMee iPhone X case
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s saying something when an event can make LuMee cases seem normal. LuMee’s cases have always inhabited a strange place for us; some of us are old folks who don’t really see why they need to exist, the other half are trendy youngsters who get it. Still, despite the fact that we covered LuMee’s new iPhone X cases in December 2017, the fact that they were at CES means they deserve some more recognition.

The LuMee range for the iPhone X has solved a large issue that had previously hobbled large amounts of the LuMee fan-base — careless placement of buttons meant that LuMee cases originally designed for the iPhone 7 range blocked wireless charging on the similarly sized iPhone 8 range. Obviously this couldn’t stand for the incredible iPhone X, and a relocated rear button has fixed the issue (so no more wrestling the case off to charge).

The rest of it is refinements on the well-known LuMee formula. Since this is a Duo case, there’s both a selfie light and one on the rear for conventional shots. It’s now thinner than ever, thanks to LuMee’s continued efforts, and the finish has been improved to make it even more durable and protective. Soft rails mean it’s easy to slip on and off, and a removable wrist strap takes away worries about drops while stretching for that perfect selfie. A great improvement on an already successful formula.

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Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
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