Google Pixel 3 XL Case roundup

Another flagship in for review - this time it's the bigger, notched Pixel. And it means more cases to try out and score!

I've taken a likely cross-section of Pixel 3 XL cases, thanks to the folks at MobileFun, kind people that they are, and also to the folks at Totallee and (especially, given the cost) Noreve.

See Mobile Fun's complete range of Pixel 3 XL cases and covers here.

In no particular order(!):

Ringke Fusion, £13

This has been one of my favourite cases for the last few years, on several phones. It's crystal clear (it comes with protective layers that need stripping off), ruggedly made, and has moulded bracings in the corners, to protect the phone from corner drops.



Being clear has the huge advantage in 2018, with phones now coming in premium finishes, usually glass, that you actually get to see the expensive smartphone you just bought.

The corner bracings double as feet when the phone's laid down on its back, plus there's a lanyard hole, should you be into hanging this from a wrist or your neck.



In short, a perfect compromise between protection and style.

9/10

Olixar ExoShield, £10

Transparent-backed, but this time with a jet black rim, this looks handsome and is reasonably protective.



The design's sound in principle, but rather let down by cheap button push-outs and a glossy finish on the black portions (matt looks less tacky, I think).


Still, for £10 you can't argue the value for money - and it'll definitely do the job.

7/10

Ghostek Exec2, £20

Ghostek gets full marks for trying, it really does. The idea of a super-rugged case which can also be your wallet thanks to an elasticated slot for 'up to 5' cards. And the implementation is first class... spoiled only by the impracticality in daily life, as I shall explain...



As a case, this is really tough, with two layer construction, rubberised rim and cloth-covered back, all very premium. The button push-outs are superb too, the Pixel 3 XL feels great to use.


Alas, the core USP hasn't really been thought through. The leather pouch is well made, with metal liner and elasticated sides, but... in practice the concept is flawed. 

Put one card in and it just falls out again. Put two cards in and they're snug but very hard to get out again in a hurry. Put three or more cards in and you start to need a vice-like grip to ever extract them. Plus you also lose the Qi charging facility of the Pixel 3 XL because of the extra depth added to the case.


So close, but no cigar. Sorry, Ghostek.

5/10

Olixar NovaShield, £13

Another transparent backed bumper design, but this time with black mouldings that are partly protective and partly cosmetic.



The good news is that the finish here is matt and definitely premium, with large button push-outs that feel classy. 

There's no real heavy duty protection here, but you're covered from all sides against small drops, at least, while the phone looks a million dollars.



8/10

Olixar Leather Style Wallet Stand, £10

Cheap and cheerful, we're talking faux leather, of course, though it's nicely grippy and has the usual folding 'stand' functionality, plus the obligatory card slots (hence 'wallet'). The phone casing itself is patently cheap, but it does the job.



The card slots work well enough in that it's easy to remove one card from each, though the material is flimsy and I don't think it would last more than a few months without some kind of tear. Still, at this low price, I guess you just buy a new case?

The catch is magnetic and top notch, though you do have to content with the other bug bear of this type of design - a dramatic increase in overall cased thickness. The fingerprint scanner is just accessible, but not trivial to reach for all finger sizes.



The back fold design is well known by now and works well, with the screen naturally propped up at about 45 degrees. The front flap threatens to get in the way but doesn't in practice.

7/10

Totallee Ultra Thin (Clear), $29

Totallee specialise in minimalist cases, adding as little thickness and depth as possible. Here's the first of two designs - this one's more traditional, being form fitting TPU that's tough and yet pretty thin. And beautifully fitting, as you'd expect at the somewhat inflated price.



Effectively you're paying for the knowhow to get a case to be this thin and yet so tightly fitting. 

The flip side of thinness is, of course, that there's very little drop protection - this case is all about protection from dirt and scratches.

8/10

Totallee Ultra Thin (Black Matt), $29

The more innovative of the two cases is even thinner, adding less than 1mm to the Pixel 3 XL on all sides - just staggeringly thin. The net result is that you can use the phone in its protected state but it still feels the same size as the naked device.



I'm really not sure of the exact material used, other than it being a matt-finished and durable plastic. The fit is again perfect.

Of course, in this case, being black, you don't get to see the phone you paid so much money for.  But I still have no complaints.


Very nice. this doesn't quite make top marks because of the lack of any realistic drop protection. But it's still stunning and - maybe - worth the purchase price!

8/10

Spigen Liquid Crystal, £9

Ah yes, Spigen is a favourite of mine, but with good reason. Given the mission here to protect the 3 Xl as much as possible while not getting in the way of use or of appreciating the device's design and colours, the Liquid Crystal was the one to get in.


Spigen's plastic is just sooo clear, so grippy, so premium. It's hard to describe, but it's... solid without actually being solid, especially around the cutouts for camera and fingerprint sensor. Just beautifully made.


One of my favourite things to do with quality clear cases is appreciate the light refracting qualities when using the phone at night. So turn on the 'LED torch' feature in Android and the whole case outline lights up - pretty cool, eh?


The super-protective qualities are partly down to the 'Air cushion' tech used in all four corners - literally a TPU-encased bubble of air and the idea is that, in the event of an initial corner impact (by far the most likely, if you think about it), the air will compress before any force gets transmitted through to the phone:


A terrific case, my joint favourite in this round-up. The only flaw I could find in this design is that it's so close-fitting that visible artefacts appear under the plastic as it bonds with the metal underneath.

9/10


Noreve Leather Wallet, 65 Euros

There's nothing like the Noreve cases out there. You can get cheap faux-leather wallet cases, but if you want the real thing then Noreve is the way to go.




The review sample was in white leather, but every case is hand built to your exact specification. So you pick the leather, the colour, the interior, and so on. This might mean a delay before shipping, understandably, but the result is worth it.


The front is metal, the tray tough plastic, all perfectly stitched in high quality leather. The idea in this case is that this one entity becomes your wallet and your smartphone - there are slots for your two most used cards, with the phone handling Google Pay and other loyalty stuff. A bill fold slot will take a few cash notes, just in case(!)

And it all works rather beautifully, with the obvious caveats over bulk and weight. Plus the usual folio annoyances of a 'dangling' front flap for when you're shooting photos. Oh, and, unlike cheaper cases, there's no 'hinge' built into the tray backing, so you can't use this case for acting as a media kick stand.


But the negatives aren't really important. Here it's all about the look, feel and smell of leather. Slap this down on the meeting room table and everyone will know you mean business!

8/10

Noreve 'Tradition E', 55 Euros

Another from the folks at Noreve and based on the same Pixel 3 XL inlay, but this time set in a traditional 'cover' style and this time finished in gorgeous red.



Although the leather and inlay combination adds 1mm extra in thickness beyond a simple TPU case, the payoff is the feel of high quality genuine leather in your hand all day, plus the red colour here is very eye catching. I was impressed.



It's worth noting that the inlay isn't metal (though it's as tough as metal) which is good, since its transparent to electro-magnetism, so the Qi charging functions work well for topping up the Pixel.


The cutouts are sensibly curved - holes have been avoided because they'd weaken the case sides, with the benefit that the mics and control buttons aren't covered. The one port which requires levering the Pixel 3 XL out (which takes a little care and time, since the fit is so precise) is the SIM slot, but as long as you're not a serial device or SIM swapper then this shouldn't be an issue.



A top notch option if you don't mind paying extra for premium materials.

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