Case roundup for the Google Pixel 4 XL

In my reviews of the brand new Pixel 4 XL so far, I've pointed out that the painted finish on metal and glass is worrisome - surely it's going to rub off and look tatty at some point? So here we go with some likely case contenders...

As usual for my case roundups, I'll cover a variety of styles, with most samples supplied by MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their complete range of Pixel 4 XL cases and covers.

But on with the individual cases, each link goes to the relevant product page, of course.

(Updated continue on this URL as and when more cases arrive for review from MobileFun and from other sources.)

Olixar Soft Silicone, Black, £10

A terrific option at the price, the feel in the hand is super-premium. Soft and smooth, yet not too smooth - there's still grip.

There's minimal corner protection, but you do get enough of a lip all round the front of the Pixel 4 XL so as to protect it when placed face down on a surface, or even from face drops.

The fit is pretty good, though some of the Pixel's original colour shows around the inside of the camera island cutout. I'm being super picky here though.

A basic case that looks like it's worth three times its price - and that has to be a good thing.

PS. Do try not to get greasy 'fast food' fingers on this though, since the soft finish does tend to accumulate fingerprints!

Score: 8/10

Olixar Canvas Wallet, Grey, £13

I do love Olixar's 'Canvas' range, in that they provide all the advantages (screen protection, landscape media watching, card storage) of a 'folio' design without excessive bulk.

The material exterior is lovely to the touch and it makes you want to hold the cased phone at all times - yes, it's that premium. The interior flap has a single card slot - probably sensible, since the aim here is to keep the thickness down, after all.

In fact, everything about the design just works - with one exception. And it's not the case's fault. You see, the Pixel 4 XL is designed around its 'Soli' radar chap and 'ambient awareness'. Yet with the case flap closed, the sensors can't do their thing to respond to gestures or presence. I guess you could keep the case opened out on your desk, but the match-up of folio to phone ID/gestures still seems a little awkward.

If you love folio designs and the protection and smartness that they embody though, look no further - at £13 this is a steal!

Score: 8/10

Olixar Carbon Fibre Protective, black, £13

One of the most protective (hence the name!) cases in this round-up, this is a classic tough and textured TPU design with a good millimetre clearance all round the phone on the front and a couple of millimetres on back and corners - so you can essentially throw your Pixel 4 XL around and you'll be fine here.

The fit around the back, around the camera island again seems a little lax, in that I see the white of my Pixel 4 XL's rear peeking through, but it's not a functional problem and Olixar does say in the packaging at the moment that this is a 'day 1' case and that they've been working to dummy units, not retail Pixel 4 XLs, so hopefully the camera island fit can be improved in future production runs. Olixar are pretty good in this respect.

There's little to complain about here, other than perhaps the button covers are a little stiff, you have to press in slightly harder than on other case designs I've tried. Still, it's the case my Pixel has ended up in (so far), which speaks volumes...

This is tough, it's functional, the textured ('carbon fibre') back screams 'I mean business' and, happily, no muggers will suspect that you're using a £1000 smartphone! Well, hopefully.

Score: 9/10

Ghostek Covert 'Smoke', £15

What's tougher than the case above? This, from Ghostek, which totally anonymises and protects your expensive Pixel 4 XL, to the point where it doesn't look attractive at all. Which is an odd thing to say about a case, but the 'Smoke' tint in the clear TPU just looks as if the cased phone is several years old and, perhaps, not worth nicking to a mugger?

Apologies to Ghostek if I've misinterpreted the intentions here, but the tinting and the bulbous corners do the case no favours in the beauty stakes.

The reinforced corners though, plus the couple of millimetres of tough TPU above the screen all round, do mean that the Pixel 4 XL is protected from every kind of drop. Which may be your primary goal?

The fit is great apart from, again, showing the phone colour around the black camera island:

Still, overall, good value for money if your going ultra-urban, of perhaps out into the wilds, where some extra dirt on your precious phone case won't make a blind bit of difference!

Score: 8/10

Olixar Sentinel, £6

On offer as I write this, there are really only styling differences between this and the 'Carbon Fibre Protective' discussed above. The idea is the same - tough black TPU and plenty of grippy texture.

The same harder feel to the side buttons applies too, so these cases are really a triumph of protection over actual enjoyment. But for most people the number one concern is keeping their flagship phone safe and so this is a solid choice.

I like the brushed metal effect and solid sides in particular.

The lip all round the screen is minimal but it is there - so there's basic face drop protection , even if I'd like to have seen a bit more on the corners/bottom...

The case comes with a tough plastic screen protector - I'm not really a fan of plastic getting in the way of my phone experience, but this one is well made and the cutouts are done stylishly. At the offer price, this case/protector bundle is a huge bargain!

Score: 8/10

RhinoShield Impact Back Skin, Carbon Fibre, £10

Something a little different, this is a thick and textured plastic skin that sticks to the back panel of the Pixel 4 XL. It comes with a variety of cloths and guides, but it still ultimately comes down to how steady your hands are and how good your eyes are, in terms of how perfectly it's centred on the phone back.

And therein lies a conceptual issue - the skin doesn't even extend to the very edges of the back glass (in this case white). So you see a ring of the phone's colour around the skin. Which is OK as long as you positioned the skin well! But more pointedly, there's not really any actual impact protection for the phone, despite the product's name. Edges, corners, screen, are all as vulnerable as the phone was out of the box.

The texture and feel is decent, it's a quick and easy way to give your Pixel 4 XL a new 'feel' without adding to the thickness discernibly. Just don't kid yourself that the phone's protected, except from cosmetic scratches to the back!

Score: 6/10

Ghostek Exec 4 Wallet Case, £18

The trouble with 'wallet cases' is they always compromise the form factor or experience in some way - the Exec 4 here aims to address this by making the 'wallet' bit detachable - the faux leather compartment (for two standard sized cards) slides out of the back of the main tough TPU case so that you can access it more easily and so that you can also Qi charge the main Pixel 4 XL.

It's an interesting idea and it works really well. The best of both worlds? Well, not quite, since the 2 card limit may be too small for some, plus the case itself is a little over-thick, thanks to needing the heavy plastic rails for the wallet section to slide into and locate with a snap.

Phone case/wallet convergence remains a very interesting concept for 2020 though, and this is a different approach that deserves trying out more. Perhaps a magnetic attachment for the wallet section would have been easier in day to day life, but full marks to Ghostek for having a stab at the idea.

Score: 8/10

Olixar Ultra-Thin, £1

Yes, you read that price right, at the time of writing, this case is almost free! The idea, as the name suggests, is to put a grippy silicone layer around the whole phone and add minimal bulk at the same time. And it succeeds in spectacular fashion - the Pixel 4 XL feels fantastic and the lack of bulk is very refreshing.

Of course, actual drop protection is somewhat limited. Edge and corner drops get you some scuff protection but serious impacts will still be transmitted through the phone's chassis. And there's no 'lip' around the screen, so a 100% face drop will see you gain a smashed screen.

But that's not what the 'Ultra-thin' design is for. It's a way to make sure you don't drop your Pixel 4 XL in the first place, all the while preserving both its thin form and its cosmetics/colours.

Score: 9/10


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