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Put your phone in a case—especially if its costs $1,200. We have a great roundup of third-party Samsung Galaxy S21cases on our site right now, but as I’m using an S21 Ultra as my primary phone, I decided to request a few official Samsung cases for hands-on testing. Three are just okay. One could be a game changer.
The game changer is Samsung’s Silicone Cover with S Pen ($69.99). This case basically turns your phone into a Galaxy Note, along with protecting the phone, for $30 less than the price differential between the S21 Ultra and the Note. It’s a black silicone sleeve that goes over your phone, with a grippy slot on the left side that holds an included S Pen.
I love how it feels in my hand. It significantly improves the S21 Ultra’s functionality, by including the pen. And it gives me confidence that drops won’t break the camera glass, always a problem with phones that have camera bumps.
The case has several things going for it. It’s a comfortable, soft-touch matte black. It goes over the camera bump and protects the camera glass. There’s an ever-so-slight lip over the front edge, which can protect against front-facing drops. Most importantly, it gives you built-in S Pen storage.
There are two downsides to this one. It’s not super-rugged, especially on the front face; you may want to invest in a screen protector as well. It also makes an already wide phone even wider. With the case and the S Pen, the whole assembly is now a hand-busting 3.25 inches wide. I’m still deciding how I feel about that.
The case is also, very oddly, left handed! You take the S Pen out on the left and then you have to switch it to your right hand, if you’re a rightie.
Attaching the S Pen to the S21 Ultra weakens the case for the upcoming Note 21. Yes, the Note pen has Bluetooth features that this S Pen doesn’t have, like being able to be used as a remote camera shutter. But the upcoming S Pen Pro, supposedly, will have those features.
Lesser Cases Are Lesser
If your goal is just to protect your investment, the Clear Protective Cover does what it says. It has a hard, clear plastic back with a big cutout for the camera bump; a ridged plastic surround with a noticeable lip that goes a bit over the front; and a lanyard loop in the back corner. It’s okay. I’m not a huge fan for a few reasons. The clear protective material can look and feel a little greasy, and unlike with the S Pen case, there’s no explicit protection for the camera bump.
As for the Smart LED View Cover—I just don’t like wallet-style cases, because they put an extra barrier between me and my phone’s screen. In this case, the case is slimline, leather-feeling and hard, not adding much to the thickness of the phone but surrounding it with a lot of protection. The time can appear on the front of the case when the phone’s in there.
Take a look at our Galaxy S21 case roundup for more details. And check out our Galaxy S21 Ultra review to see the best camera phone available in the US.
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