Case roundup (part 1) for the Google Pixel 3a XL

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 Pixel 3a XL cases and covers.

The Google Pixel 3a XL is extraordinary value when you factor in the superb camera and guaranteed three years of updates, including two complete Android versions.

There aren't that many third party cases in stock as yet, so I've marked this post as 'part 1' and I'll deliver a fuller version in a couple of weeks, if all goes well.

Olixar Ultra-Thin, £7

There's not that much to this case, by design. When it's on, you don't really notice any increase in bulk, which is a very good thing. You also get to see your Pixel 3a XL's original colour scheme. Some manufacturers choose to put this sort of 'grip' case in the box, but not Google - hence this inexpensive third party TPU case hits the spot.

Obviously you don't get very much in terms of drop resistance, but at least with the grippy plastic you're less likely to drop the phone in the first place, so....

Good value and a good fit.

Score: 8/10

Olixar NovaShield, £13

Much more rigid and substantial, this is is thick where it needs to be and yet with a clear and thin back that allows your 3a XL design to show through. A clever mix.

Although the top and bottom edges aren't especially reinforced, the fit is good enough and there's enough 'bezel' all around the 3a XL that you still get some degree of protection from a face down drop.

I'd have liked to have seen extra ruggedisation at the corners though, since this is by far the most common drop impact zone.

The fingerprint sensor and all buttons are fully and easily accessible and I was impressed all round though, especially at the price.

Score: 9/10

Olixar Leather-Style Wallet Stand, £10

Wallet (folio) cases are a love them or hate them design - but this one doesn't do much to encourage the former. I can understand the use of faux-leather covering cardboard (at the price), but in fact this case just isn't pleasant to use because of the sharp edges. 

Now, I get it, folio cases are usually thick and clunky, but Olixar has gone all out to make this thinner than you'd expect and as a result you get sharp edges digging into your hand, not least on the right side, where the phone's buttons are. So you have to press past the sharp back edge in order to press power or volume buttons and the resulting ergonomics are just horrible. 

Add in that the fingerprint sensor hole has no bevels and so appears more deeply recessed than it actually is - so you have to consciously poke your finger into the circular recess. 

On the plus side, the wallet case is thinner than most - but I'd rather have it thicker, with more comfortable edges that are better aligned with the phone, and with a larger back cutout, bevelled for easy finger access.

Back to the drawing board, Olixar.

Score: 6/10

Olixar Sentinel, £20

This can be considered a slight upgrade from the NovaShield design, with the back thicker and filled in and with more a feel of solidity. In truth, the corners are no better reinforced, nor the screen edges protected by a bigger lip, but the Sentinel certainly feels more premium by comparison.

Part of this is the textured back, which aids grip, part of this is the larger, bevelled hole for the fingerprint sensor. But the end result is a super mix of protection and style.

OK, so you don't get to see the colour and design of your new Pixel 3a XL - but you absolutely know that you've got it covered for casual drops and knocks.

As a bonus, while the NovaShield design looks good, that clear plastic will get scratched and dirty quite easily, while the Sentinel design (a variant of which I've been using for the last three years) is a classic and its black textured finish will survive numerous scrapes without showing dirt and damage.

Finally, if you're into screen protectors, the Sentinel also comes with a glass protector and cleaning/application pack, a nice bonus and justifying the price further.

Score: 10/10


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