Cases for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is pitched as the ultimate imaging phone - with massive specs, most of which do bear out (my review goes up in a couple of days), at a price!

But how to protect your expensive snapper? 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 Galaxy S20 Ultra cases and covers.

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

Samsung LED View Cover, £54

One of the most expensive cases I've ever reviewed, this is also one of the most functional, from a tech perspective. Taking power wirelessly from the phone, a matrix of small LEDs in the cover of this folio case light up with time or notifications, as needed, in 'retro' dot matrix fashion. It's a little stylised, but I can see this appealing to anyone wanting a folio style case in terms of protection and yet large and easy access to seeing the time.

The time isn't 'always on', since that would require too much power, but it appears instead when you press the phone's power button. It's pretty cool, as are the huge range of LED emoticons (configured through a standalone app that gets installed when you put the case on):

The idea is that you set up specific emoticons for specific app notifications or, more probably, different contacts. So one face indicates your partner, one your parents, and so on. All rather clever, even if Samsung's other design (the Clear View, with translucent side panel) is possibly more elegant.

In use as a folio case, I was impressed. There's recessed storage for a card - the 'recess' bit being important, as it means that the folio flap can completely 'form fit' to the phone's front. Which means in turn that the cased phone is much sleeker and thinner than your average folio:

A top notch design, mad in top notch rubberised and textured plastic:

The Ultra is a large phone - and the LED Cover makes it larger still, but the combination of external display and attention to design detail impressed me enormously.

Score: 9/10

Spigen Neo Hybrid, £25

I haven't seen this design from Spigen before, but its protection credentials are impressive. Look carefully and you can see that this is a two part design, with shock absorbent inner TPU and an outer shell of harder faux-metal plastic:

An extra texture on the rear adds an extra touch of class. Which you'd expect, at the price. From an extra ridge around the camera island glass to raised top and bottom edges, the Neo Hybrid is all about protection, while still managing to look cool.

Sorry if this is starting to sound like an advert, it's really not. I get to pick the cases I review and this batch is particularly well fashioned and well made.

The extra bulk in the hand (a few mm all round) is worth it for peace of mind, I think. The S20 Ultra felt very secure and I'm pretty confident it could survive a drop from waist height.

Score: 10/10

Olixar Ultra-soft Silicone, £10

On the one hand, this is very good value - on the other, despite the premium (and unexpected) feel, there's a design caveat that I'll highlight later. But you can't argue with the materials - smooth and soft silicone outer and velvet interior (to avoid scratching your S20 Ultra):

The fit is top notch, adding little bulk, though this does mean that the camera glass of the phone isn't really protected, since the case's thickness is similar to the protrusion.

In the hand, this Olixar design reminds me of Apple's premium silicone cases for the iPhone - so call this a clone, I think. I'll let the lawyers argue the toss. But at £10 it certainly feels more expensive.

However, and it's a bit 'however', I had a £1000 phone in exactly this design last month, it fell from only a foot above the floor exactly onto the exposed bottom edge of the glass, and the screen cracked. Gah. Yes, I was very unlucky, but it does show that 'bottom exposed' designs (to avoid getting in the way of 'swipe up' gestures, presumably) have an Achilles Heel. Literally.

Still, in an office environment (with carpets!) you'll be fine with this and the phone will also look a million dollars, especially face down to show off the silicone.

Score: 8/10

Olixar 'Carbon Fibre', £13

A well established design and a favourite of mine, this is a no-nonsense TPU case that rarely disappoints. No special reinforcements, but a tough covering all round. However, the S20 Ultra version does have a weakness, in that the sides are lower and thinner than usual.

The idea is that side swipes in the S20 Ultra's UI are unimpeded, but it does also mean that drops onto the phone's side may result in glass-ground contact. The raised top and bottom edges help to some extent, but there's still more vulnerability here than is usually the case for the 'Carbon Fibre'.

Still, it's a handsome design, and pretty grippy, so in theory you shouldn't drop the S20 Ultra in this in the first place! (Don't worry about the circular dimples in the photo above, I think they're a manufacturing defect in my early sample, yours won't have these!)

Score: 8/10

Olixar NovaShield, £13

I do have a soft spot for clear cases with 'all over' protection, i.e. not too minimalist, and the Olixar case gets close to perfect here. The plastic is very tough yet also very clear, and there are reinforcing ridges right, left and centre.

In the hand, it feels fantastic - the ring of 'clear' around the black of the phone just emphasises that the device is encased in protection and grip.

However, despite the steampunk-ish bevels, bezels, and general cosmetics, if I look closely at the insides of the corners of the NovaShield, then I see a hollowing out of the plastic, rather than a reinforcing. Possibly (the marketing refers to 'air cusioning') this is allowing an air gap to act as a buffer in the case of a corner drop, but I'm not convinced - I'd rather have more material between my £1200 phone and concrete. Sorry, Olixar.

Overall though, there's enough here for a strong recommendation. And, being clear, you get to enjoy the cosmetics of your new smartphone, which is always good.

Score: 9/10

ESR Essential Crown Clear, £10

One of the new breed of 'ultra-thin' cases, the idea here is simple. Add TPU grip all around (to help prevent drops), while also allowing your S20 Ultra to be seen and enjoyed, and adding as little bulk as possible.

The downside to such a 'thin' solution is that there's not much in the way of drop protection if it does take a tumble - I think a drop onto almost any side would result in a chance of screen or back glass fracture.

Oddly, the rear of the case eschews thinness and goes for a chunky ridge to protect the camera glass. Which is nice, though the camera island has a small ridge built-in anyway, and I think I'd have gone for a simple gap with no ridge here, which would make the cased phone sleeker. Oh well.

So, as ever, a tradeoff. If you're home or office based and rarely take your phone out over dangerous surfaces(!) then this may be an option, at a low price.

Score: 7/10


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