Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 have been a runaway success, powering the company to take the lion’s share of profits from the entire Android ecosystem. These two phones are considered by many to be capable of going toe-to-toe with the iPhone and are available in numerous countries on numerous carriers.
One thing they’re not, however, is cheap; so you’d best protect the Galaxy you’ve got. There are actually fewer rugged cases available for the Galaxy S3/S4 than for the iPhone, but there’s still some selection including a pair of waterproof entries. Let’s have a look at the five best tough Galaxy cases.
There are many inexpensive rugged cases on the market, so choosing one as “best” for this list was difficult. But ultimately, I found favor for the Urban Armor Gear, a case that can be had for both the Galaxy S3 and S4.
The gear is a semi-rugged case featuring plastic construction with rubber bumpers designed to protect against nasty on-edge drops that have a habit of shattering the Galaxy’s display. Yet the design is clever because this protection is built in without dramatically increasing the phone’s size.
Another plus is the price. Amazon sells the Galaxy S3 version for less than $15 and the S4 version for about $25. There are other semi-tough Galaxy cases available for the same or less, but none can match the Gear’s blend of quality, protection and aesthetics.
The Convert is a popular style of case made by Japanese manufacturer Seidio for multiple phones. All versions have several defining features; a rugged exterior, a kickstand and a belt clip.
Protection is provided by a scratch-resistant hard plastic exterior paired with a silicon interior that absorb shocks and bumps. The case also uses a “skeleton” design that bulks up on material along the corners to help defender against those nasty on-edge drops. The edges of the case protrude slightly above the display, which will help defend your Galaxy if it’s dropped display-down.
The Covert’s kickstand is built in to the case, while the holster is an accessory. The holster has a sturdy clip and rotates so the phone can be worn in a comfortable position.
There are a lot of features here, but they do come at a price. Expect to pay $30 to $40 on Amazon for the Galaxy S3 version, and $40 to $50 for the Galaxy S4.
Otterbox’s Defender is an incredibly popular rugged case that’s available for many phones. In design, it’s very similar to the Convert, as it features a hard exterior which wraps around a soft shock-resistant core. There’s also a built-in screen protector to ward off scratches, a feature that the Convert doesn’t have (though Seidio does sell screen protectors).
There’s a kickstand and holster available for this case, too, though the specifics are a bit different. While the Convert has its kickstand built into the case, Otterbox uses the snap-on belt clip as both a holster and kickstand. This could be more or less convenient, depending on your needs.
Pricing is similar to the Convert, as well; $30-$40 for the Galaxy S3 version and $40-$50 for the Galaxy S4.
The next step up from the Otterbox Defender is the Armor, the ultimate rugged case from Otterbox. Like the Defender, this case protects from scratches and dust, but it increases drop protect to 10 feet and adds protection against crush and water. Owners of the Armor can drop their Galaxy in up to two meters of water without worry.
Adding all this protection also adds bulk, however, which is the Armor’s only serious con. The case nearly doubles the phone’s girth and adds noticeable weight, too, so this is a case that works best for people who really might need its impressive durability.
The price is high, too – the case is just under $100 on Amazon. Only a Galaxy S3 version is currently available, but a Galaxy S4 version is likely given its brisk adoption rate.
Want ultimate water protection? Then the Seidio OBEX is for you. This case is rated to fulfill IP68 standards, which means it is suitable for long-term submersion in up to two meters water. Of course, you probably won’t let your phone hang out in the pool after you drop it, so the OBEX is more than suitable for modern life.
The OBEX also meets MIL-STD-810G standards for protection against drops, dust and various environment hazards. This means the case can handle drops of up to four feet. That’s less than the Armor, so there’s a bit of a trade-off here; the Armor probably handles drops better, but the OBEX is rated to provide better water protection.
This case is also thinner than the Armor and costs less, as you can pick up the Obex for the Galaxy S3 for just $50 on Amazon. The Galaxy S4 version is officially “in development” and will probably debut between $70 and $80.
These cases are the most rugged options available for your Galaxy. The iPhone’s rugged case selection is a bit more robust, but all the levels of protection users need are still covered. If you just want to ward off drops and bumps, the Urban Armor Gear is a good choice, but super-cases like the Armor and OBEX are available for folks who need protection against, well, everything.