The Galaxy S8’s beautiful design means a good case is hard to find

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I’m normally not a phone case person, but a few factors made me decide I should get one for the Galaxy S8. I trust that it’s not any more fragile than other phones, but the broad expanses of curved glass have me a little worried about scratches. I’m also worried about full-on cracks, as I cracked the hell out of my last phone after a short drop on a hard curb.

Getting a case for any new phone design in the early weeks and months after its release is always a challenge. Often, there are only a few manufacturers (including the phone maker itself) that have access to prototypes to make cases. Which means that the spread of offerings isn’t great.

And for the S8 in particular, designing a good case is Very Difficult. You want something that will keep the curved screen from touching a desk if you place it facedown, but you absolutely do not want a lip on the right or the left of the screen. You might think it’s not that big a deal, or that it’s purely aesthetic, but the curved screen on the S8 feels terrible when there’s a big case on those edges — which you need to tap and swipe on all the time on Android.

And all that is on top of the most important part of a case: does it actually match your style and achieve whatever protection goals you have for it? My goal was to have something as minimalist as possible — though maybe someday I’ll go for something super cute.

I mean, just look at this big, dopey case from Speck, which is designed to be extra protective:


http://www.theverge.com/

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Speck Presidio Clear Case.

I bought it in desperation at a Sprint store because I was heading off on a trip — the fact that it was the best thing available in the store is doubly depressing. I’m sure it does a fine job offering protection, but it also completely ruins the experience of this hardware. Also, Speck says it’s made with “IMPACTIUM CLEAR” (caps theirs). I do not possess the emotional resources to comment on this made up word nor the material it supposedly signifies. There are just too many Avatar jokes.

There are factors to consider when you’re looking for an S8 case. The best of them do offer a lip to protect the screen, but they’re on the top and the bottom, not the sides. They also should feel good on the back when you reach way way up there to hit the fingerprint sensor. In fact, hitting the fingerprint sensor is easier with a case because you can feel the indentation more easily.

I picked up three different Spigen cases, all of which have ridiculous names. The “Spigen Ultra Hybrid,” the “Spigen Neo Hybrid,” and the “Spigen Thin Fit.” I’m happier with all of them, they do a decent job of leaving the curves on the screen open while still offering a decent amount of protection. I ended up sticking with the Thin Fit case, as it was the smallest. Here’s a gallery of some of the design elements I like (or at least don’t mind) on all these cases:

I’ve also been seeing some complaints about screen protectors — both glass and plastic — for the S8. Making those work for a curved screen is super difficult. I went to a random gadget store a couple weeks ago and they refused to sell me one, it wasn’t up to their standards and they decided to send their entire batch back.

So: my advice if you want an S8 case is to get something cheap now and just deal with it for a while until case makers can figure out what does and doesn’t work.

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