Case roundup: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

As usual for my case roundups, I'll cover a variety of styles, with all samples supplied by MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their complete range of Galaxy Note 9 cases and covers.

Note (puns intended throughout!) that I'm going to refer to the phone as the 'Note 9', as do MobileFun. Samsung's stylistic 'Note9' just won't catch on - it looks awful!

In no particular order (and with no winner picked, in that all the cases here are worthy of consideration for one reason or another!):

Spigen Rugged Armor, £18

As usual Spigen's Rugged Armor case is top notch and, if you're in a hurry, then look no further, this is the best in-situ case for the Note 9 bar none:


The matt exterior finish and cushioned interior is the perfect blend of materials and textures. Not too thick, not too thin, and fitting like a glove, as usual for Spigen:


The patterned gloss panels on the back serve to add interest and some extra grip - and the design has been much copied by other, cheaper eBay clones, but Spigen is the original:



The fit around all openings and the camera and sensor islands is perfect too. As with all Spigen designs, the end sections rise up a little over the Note 9 screen, in order to provide some protection from face-down drops:



At £18 all in, I can't recommend the Spigen Rugged Armor highly enough.

Score: 10/10

But - just in case you want more options:

Olixar Premium with tempered glass, £25

Somewhat disconcertingly arriving loose in its box and rattling around, Olixar often errs on the 'cheap' side, but the Premium case here is actually very protective:


Not least because it comes with a tempered glass screen protector - this is kept in place with simple surface tension and fits with no unsightly bubbles - it's the way to go. Not shown here, but you also get wipes to make sure your Note 9 screen is clear of dust and debris before application.


The Premium case itself is thick. Very thick. It adds a whopping half a centimetre to the Note 9, as you can see by the inset depth of the phone's camera island:


With the tempered glass front, with 0.5cm of thick TPU, and with heavily reinforced corners, this deserves top marks for protection. Just so long as you don't mind the extra size in your pockets!

The thickness does allow a foldout kick stand, mind you, and I always love having these to help with media watching while eating or cooking:


One of the best Olixar cases I've reviewed, if also the thickest!

Score: 9/10


Samsung LED View Cover Case, £55

Yes, you read that price right. Samsung's official cases have always been pricey, and especially so when electronic elements are incorporated. In this case, a dot matrix style LED array embedded into the cover, designed to mimic the display showing through holes, as on some of the old HTC phones and covers:


The magic happens by NFC, providing the pairing of the Note 9 with the case and, presumably also providing the 40mA current needed. Or perhaps there's a Qi wireless charging element involved. Samsung doesn't say how the LED matrix is powered, so your guess is as good as mine:


The controls on the spine of the cover aren't electronic, they're thin cloth and push down on the underlying Note 9 buttons - which is fair enough. At least we know how this bit works!


The Samsung case is superbly finished and designed, as you'd expect for the price. Tough striped and textured plastic on the outside and velvety soft-touch on the inside, along with a credit card slot for convenience:


The thickness of the rear section (shown by the camera island in-set depth) indicates that there's some active circuitry in the base. Presumably the power transfer coils and processor that drives the LED matrix. It's all a little over the top - as is the price - but you have to admire Samsung's commitment to a polished final product:


Score: 8/10

Olixar MeshTex, £10

Great value, this is a very slim design made with rubberised plastic mesh, moulded to grip each side of the Note 9:


The selling point here is adding some protection while only adding 1mm to the overall thickness - impressive!


The MeshTex case snaps on easily and is tougher than it looks, plus you get extra grip from the texture on all sides:


Aside from not offering top notch drop protection, my main complaint here would be that the fingerprint sensor has its own cutout, meaning that you have to poke your fingertip into the opening somewhat - other cases have a T-shaped cutout for the whole camera/sensor array and this works better generally.

Score: 7/10

UAG Plyo, £30

With the huge advantage of being see-through, so that you can appreciate the finer points of your particular Note 9 colour, this UAG design also offers serious drop protection:


As with the Spigen design, there's just the right amount of thickness here, providing protection where needed and extra buffer on the corners and end caps. UAG stands for 'Urban Armor Gear' and I can see why:


In the hand, the UAG Plyo does feel larger than the Spigen Rugged Armor, but the idea's the same. While the Spigen design feels more holistic, the Plyo here screams 'indestructible'.

The cutouts are perfect too, including that T-shape around the sensors on the back, along with a handy bevel to guide your fingertip 'in':


Top notch and my first experience of UAG was very positive - if a little pricey.

Score: 9/10

Update:

Noreve Leather Cover, 70 Euros

Newly in, this is the Rolls Royce of the round-up - super expensive, but also super-premium. No faux leather here - this is the highest quality quilted leather, presented in a nice bag, in a nice box - you get the idea.


On the phone, the Noreve Leather Cover is super secure and a pleasure to hold. Admittedly, as a reviewer, I got sent the most boring colour option, grey, but on the Noreve site linked above there are a dozen colours available and eight leather finishes. So, in the board room or on the train, the idea is that your Note 9 case will be a personal statement that will draw admiring glances.


Well, that's the theory. I loved the look, feel and smell.


In use, the case can be your billfold as well, within reason, with a couple of credit cards in the slots provided. While the bottom cutouts provide ample room for plugging in headphones, USB Type C and then getting the Note 9 stylus out.



Folio cases have a huge drawback, of course, and it's one you have to be ready for - they add thickness. Both for the front flap (plus cards/bills) and for the double thickness back, with phone holder bonded to the leather rear.



This does ruin the Note 9s sleek aesthetics, but as an all-in-one luxury protective solution for almost the most expensive phone in the Android world, the Noreve Leather series is something that's worth considering if you're due a present (from yourself?!) Go on, treat yourself and personalise away on the Noreve site - each case is effectively hand built to your exact specification. Really!

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