14 top Samsung Galaxy S8 cases compared
We put 14 Galaxy S8 cases through their paces to sort out the style picks from the heavy duty protection options.
One of the most striking things about Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone is just how nicely designed it is. This is a premium phone that shouts its premium status from the rooftops thanks to its elegantly curved design above all else. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll also find IP68 water resistance and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5, which should give it superior resistance to immersion and accidental drops.
So surely, the argument that you should put it into an expensive phone case is all but solved, right?
Not so fast. The IP68 rating of the Galaxy S8 protects it against entirely fresh water immersion under lab conditions, but that’s a different matter to the kinds of immersions it’s likely to see in the real world. More critically, while Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass is tougher than previous iterations, there’s a world of difference between “tough” and “indestructible”. We’ve already heard anecdotal reports of users chipping or breaking the screens on Galaxy S8 smartphones, so it’s definitely possible. The cost of screen replacement (even for the glass on the back of the handset) on a phone like this will easily dwarf the cost of any case you might buy.
Aside from the protection argument, there’s also a style argument that favours cases. The Galaxy S8 is a great looking phone, but you know what it looks just like? Every other Galaxy S8 in existence.
Throwing a case on your phone gives it both a little extra protection and your own unique style note.
Finally, putting a case on the Galaxy S8 solves one problem we identified in our review of the phone. Because S8 cases have to accommodate the side-by-side arrangement of the S8’s camera lens and fingerprint reader, they all make it much easier to discern the fingerprint reader itself. This makes it faster to unlock and keeps your greasy digits off the camera lens too.
We’ve run 14 different Galaxy S8 cases through their paces, and while there’s no one case that’s automatically "better" than others, you’re certainly spoilt for choice:
Frē for S8 Lifeproof Waterproof Case
Pros: Lifeproof cases have long been the last line of defence for serial klutzes who are willing to shell out a little more for a protective case. The FRĒ for S8 honours that legacy. Its curved protective shield on the front creates a bit of space between your finger and the display, so it takes a little getting used to but ultimately doesn't interfere with features like the S8's Edge.
Cons: While I appreciate the overbearing parent move of adding a screw-in headphone jack protector for waterproofing, it doesn't feel super necessary considering the S8's IP68 water resistance rating. The option for a simpler plug to make popping headphones in and out a cinch would be appreciated. Despite its watertight body, a fair bit of dust manages its way under the screen protector which can be a pain to clean.
Lifeproof Frē review by Brodie Fogg
Pros: About as simple as possible. Makes hitting the fingerprint sensor very easy. Like the rest of Tech21’s range, the PureClear is built from toughened material built to withstand drops.
Cons: This is not a particularly pretty case, to put it mildly. The raised sides also slightly hinder engaging the Edge Display if that’s important to you.
Tech21 Evo Wallet
Pros: You can’t call something a wallet and not include somewhere for cards, even though the S8 can handle both Samsung Pay and Android Pay. The Evo Wallet doubles as either a full folio case with a hidden card section in the screen or a straight protection case, because you can fully remove the front folio section. Like the rest of Tech21’s case offerings, it’s a relatively rugged case too.
Cons: Switching the folio part on or off is a somewhat fiddly process. There’s nowhere to store the spare folio/non-folio parts, so if you lose either, you’re stuck with a single-use case.
Incipio Rebecca Minkoff Sheer Protection Case
Pros: This is a case that’s all about the style, with a bright marble finish as its signature selling point.
Cons: It’s not the toughest case, and obviously you’ve got to love that marble look.
Pros: Otterbox’s take on a clear case highlights the look of the S8 without particularly hindering function. It’s easy to take on or off and works acceptably well with the Edge Display function.
Cons: As with most simple cases, there’s not much protection on offer here, especially for the front of the phone.
Pros: The Commuter has a thicker edge than the Symmetry case, which should afford it more protection. The mid-tone blue also highlights quite nicely off the black model of the S8.
Cons: It does make the S8 noticeably thicker on the sides. You’re effectively reboxing the S8, which goes against the whole way it’s been advertised.
Tech21 Evo Go
Pros: The simpler form of the Evo Wallet eschews the folio front, but you still get a secret card compartment in the back, albeit not a very big one. Like the rest of Tech21’s range, the focus is on strong protection, with a claimed 3 metre drop protection for the rear of the phone.
Cons: Like the more protective cases, it’s a bit bulkier, and it makes using the Edge display a touch harder.
Incipio Kate Spade Wrap Case
Pros: As you might guess, this is a case that sells itself heavily on style. It’s a very light case, so it doesn’t add much in the way of weight, and its open sides make it the easiest case to adopt if you use the Edge Display consistently.
Cons: The construction of this case is very light, which means it offers minimal protection.
Tech21 Evo Check
Pros:The Evo Check adds a somewhat welcome dash of colour to the style seen in the PureClear case, so it’s a good compromise between protection and style.
Cons: If our review sample is any indication, the colour accents are quite stark indeed. You’d have to really like pink, for example.
Incipio Jack Spade Colour Block Case
Pros: Like the Kate Spade case, this is more of a style play than a protection one, and that’s a very personal matter of taste.
Cons: This is again a lighter, style-centric case, so it’s not as protective as some options.
Incipio Octane Pure
Pros: Incipio’s clear but rugged case has quite striking blue highlights, which accent nicely off the black model of the S8. It’s also low profile enough to not interfere with the Edge display notably.
Cons: That same low profile means that obviously it doesn’t protect against front face drops that much.
Otterbox Strada Portfolio
Pros: A solid, serious portfolio style case in a premium finish, so there’s protection front and back for your Galaxy S8.
Cons: The Portfolio’s clasp is magnetic, but it doesn’t latch on the side, which looks a little odd. Also, you’ve really got to like the leather look.
Tech21 Evo Tactical
Pros: A rugged case that sells itself on its tactile feel; while few cases are “slippery” there’s a definite tactility to this particular case. Like the rest of Tech21’s case offerings, durability is a key selling point.
Cons:The Tactical case has quite stiff volume buttons, although those could get easier to use over time as they wear in.
Pros: Otterbox has been making its heavy duty Defender cases for Samsung and Apple phones for some years now. They’re effectively the nuclear option in case protection with a serious installation process and an included belt clip.
Cons: Installation is a chore, which means that it’s not a good fit if you’re going to want it out of the case all that much. The belt clip rather predictably obscures the rear camera. For the model tested, there’s also no front facing screen protection onboard, although Otterbox does also sell an Alpha Glass screen protector that will work with this case.