1. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    First, full disclosure: I don't really like cases. I've not used a case on any of my prior phones (except for a brief period on the Galaxy S3). But the S7 Edge is so slippery, and with all the glass so fragile, that not using a case seems foolish. So I'm looking for a relatively minimal case that makes the phone less slippery and still provides a reasonable degree of protection. I'm not going to use a brick of a case that turns my svelte, stylish Edge into one of these:

    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-dkmb86g_487pr55s2hc_b.jpg

    My Edge is silver, and I love the way it looks, so for daily use I'd prefer a clear case that doesn't hide the beauty of the phone. So I've purchased (and in one case received free) multiple clear cases for this phone (Free isn't keeping me from criticism where it's due, however). I wish I could say one is head and shoulders above the rest, or even the clear (pun intended) favorite, but each has strengths and weaknesses. And comparing my experience to some of the other reviews on the web, I think there's more than a bit of a process / quality control problem with the manufacturers, showing up as significant sample to sample variation. Perhaps not surprising when you're talking about products that sell for $10 or less, and probably only cost a buck to make in some Chinese factory.

    So let's think about what we should expect, functionally, out of a case. Style is in the eye of the beholder, but functionally I think most of us will agree with the following: offer a reasonable amount of protection in the event of a drop; provide better grip than the slippery-as-wet-ice(TM) S7 Edge; protect the screen if you set the phone face down; and not significantly compromise functionality. Sadly, none of these cases meet all of those goals. Some don't really meet any of them.
    It's important to note that none of these cases are going to offer a whole lot of protection to the screen. Some more than others, perhaps, but in order to leave the edge screen functional, none of them completely cover the side of the phone above the level of the screen, like cases for the flat S7 do. If you drop the phone, and it lands on or near the edge of the screen, be prepared to file an insurance claim or cry, no matter what case you have it in.

    I won't rank these, because which is best depends on your priorities. Want a minimalist case, and are willing to trade some protection for it? The Spigen Liquid Crystal is your case. Are you willing to accept some more bulk in exchange for a little more protection? Look at either the Ulack or the Artech. The Ulak is less slippery, but has lousy buttons. The Artech has better buttons, but is a little slippery. I can't recommend the Poetic at all, and if the generic case appeals to you, you know who you are.

    YMMV, and if you love one I hate, or vice versa, that's your privilege. It's nice to have choices.

    Anyway, my reaction after swapping back and forth between them. In no particular order in the following posts.
    05-16-2016 07:56 PM
  2. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    Spigen Liquid Crystal: The first case I bought. Ordered it even before I had my phone. Definitely high quality. Probably the most precisely aligned, shaped and molded openings for all the ports, mics and speaker. It's all soft TPU, both the back and the bumper, and the pebble finish inside the back means there's no rainbow effect. Best of all the buttons are perfect. They add no resistance over using the phone without a case, they provide a very tactile feel, and a positive click when activiated. The best button feel of any of the clear cases by far. This case adds minimal bulk to the phone. This (along with the Poetic and Vena ) is the thinnest of any of these cases. The TPU is also reasonably grippy, and doesn't readily slip out of my fingers.


    On the downside, these very thin cases are probably the least protective in this group. Did I mention the TPU is thin? And while it has a lip at the top and bottom to protect the screen when you place it face down, the lips aren't very big, so it raises the phone off the surface less than most of the others. I dropped my Edge face down on a flat surface in this case, and the screen shattered. I'm not blaming the case, though. It impacted along the right side of the screen, so the same thing might have happened in any of these cases.

    Spigen's perfect cutouts:

    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-spigenbottom.jpg

    The screen is raised a little bit off a surface, but not by a much as some of the other cases:
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-spigen-lips.jpg

    Spigen's buttons. They don't look special, but they just WORK. Everyone else should copy these buttons.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-spigen-buttons.jpg

    Ulak Clear Slim:
    Except for one thing, this would be my favorite case of the bunch. It has an acrylic back combined with a TPU bumper. The TPU is noticably thicker than the Spigen's bumpers. There's an air bubble at each corner, which may (or may not?) help cushion any impacts there. The lip at the top and bottom is quite a bit taller than the Spigen's, and it has raised "feet" on the back to protect the acrylic screen from being scratched when you set it down. The acrylic back is very clear, and really shows off the back of the phone better than the phones with TPU backs.

    The edges are a bit more slippery than the Spigen, though not terribly so, and the acrylic back is a fingerprint magnet. But those aren't what disappoint me the most, though. The biggest problem is the buttons. They require much more pressure to push than the Spigen, and there's no tactile feedback at all. Very disappointing. And there's really no excuse for selling a case wtih second-rate buttons. Just buy a few of your competitors cases that do buttons right (like the Spigen, above), and reverse engineer them. If Uak just fixed the buttons, this would be my number 1 choice without question. Someone else who posts her tested this case, though, and said the buttons on his were fine, so I'm sending this one back and will try another sample. Hopefully the buttons on that one will be better.

    Update (5/19): Other than the buttons, I liked this case well enough to give it another try. I returned the first one, and ordered a second. This one has better buttons. Not the best, but better. The volume buttons are almost on par with the Spigen's, and certainly good enough that I'll have no problem using them. The power button is still not on par with what I expect. But since I normally turn the phone on with the home button, that's not a major issue for me. This is now my preferred clear case for the Edge.

    Oh, one minor annoyance. The product is supposed to come with a cardboard template that you can use to cut out your own picture to insert in the back of the case. A nice touch to personalize your phone. Mine was missing the template, and Ulak's customer service was totally useless. They insisted it was Amazon's problem (as if Amazon manufactured and packed the case), and refused to do anything at all to remedy the missing feature. If the case didn't have such potential, the lousy customer service would make this a "no sale."

    The "bubble" in the corners of the Ulak case. Does this really help with impact resistance? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-ulak-bubble.jpg

    One of the "feet" on the back of the Ulack, which should help prevent scratches on the back.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-ulak-back-foot.jpg

    The lips at the top and bottom keep the screen well off a surface if you put it face down. The might help, a little, if you drop it face down.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-ulak-lips.jpg

    This final pic should give you an idea of just how clear the back of this case is. Very nice.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-ulak-clear-back.jpg
    05-16-2016 07:56 PM
  3. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    Artech 21 Hybrid Jelly: This is almost the reverse of the Ulack design. Instead of a hard back and soft sides, this is a soft TPU case with a hard frame around the edge. How does it fare in comparison? The thickness of the TPU bumper seems to be a little less than the Ulak, and it doesn't have the air bubbles in the corners, but the rigid frame around the edge may offer as much protection. (I'm not about to drop test my phone--if someone wants to send me theirs, I'll be happy to do some drop tests. ) The top and bottom lips are about the same height as the Ulak, which is good. I'm not sure how the TPU back compares to the Ulak's rigid back in terms of protection, but fingerprints aren't nearly as big a problem. Oh, there's no rainbow effect with this case, either.


    On the other hand, while the buttons are better than the Ulak's, they're not as good as Spigen's. They are acceptable, but Artech knows how to make good buttons. Their Vivid Arkansas series case has the best button action I've found so far, but is not available in clear. Why they don't use the same design on all their cases is beyond my understanding.


    My biggest issue is the smooth, hard plastic frame around the bumper. It's a bit slippery, and when the case is stretched around a phone you can feel a rather sharp edge where the TPU case joins the hard plastic. Not a deal breaker, but definitely uncomfortable when you're holding the phone. Well, maybe it is a deal breaker.

    The back and sides of the Artech Jelly. I really like the looks of the black band, but it's pretty slippery.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-artech-back-side.jpg

    With the phone inserted. Not quite as clear as the Ulak, but still shows off the phone nicely.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-artech-clear-phone.jpg

    Like the Ulak, the Artech cases all get the screen well above the surface if you put it face down.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-artech-clear-lip.jpg


    Vena Retain: Kind of a cross between the Spigen Liquid Crystal and the Ulak. It's a thin, minimalistic case like the Spigen, but with a hard acrylic back like the Ulak. The buttons aren't as good as Spigen's, offering no tactile feedback, but they require much less pressure than Ulak's. Other than that, very similar to the Spigen with a hard back. If you want a minimal case like this, I think the Spigen is probably a better choice, and the Ulak (and Artech) certainly offers better protection.

    They don't show well here, but the top and bottom lips are closer in size to the Spigen than the Artech or Ulak.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-vena-side.jpg

    Like the Ulak, the Vena has small "bubbles" at the corners. And like the Ulak, I have no idea if they make any real difference in impact resistance.

    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-vena-bubble.jpg

    Poetic Affinity: It's OK, but it's lacking in too many areas to come out on top. This is another case with an Acrylic back and TPU sides, but it's not competitive with the Ualk in terms of protection. Poetic makes this in several versions, some with a colored plastic frame, and the one I bought, with a frosted edge. On the plus side, the edges of the case have a very pronounced texture that enhances the gripability of the phone. The clear acrylic back shows off the silver finish nicely. And there are raised, frosted ridges on the back that lift the clear acrylic off surfaces, preventing it from getting scratched when you set the phone down (but the frosted acrylic will get the scratches instead). The buttons work fine: almost on par with the Spigen's buttons, and the top and bottom lips are adequate, though not as high as the Artech and Ulack.


    But. But, but, but. The TPU bumper is a very hard TPU, and much thinner than either the Ulack or Artech. In fact, it's so hard I'm not sure if it's actually TPU or something else. I don't think it's going to offer much impact protection at all. There is a little extra thickness at the corners, but it's the same hard material as the rest of the bumper. The product description says there are raised soft TPU ridges inside the case for extra cushioning, but mine has no internal ridges at all. As if all that isn't enough, the case is simply ugly. The frosted edges look really cheap, and the Poetic logo in the middle of the back looks like an accident happened, and the case got scraped or melted at that spot. Just terrible.

    The frosted bottom of the Poetic case. Not for me, thanks.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-poetic-frosted-bottom.jpg

    The logo.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-poetic-logo.jpg


    You can see the textured surface at the bottom of the edge, where it curves towards the bottom. This is the best feature of this case.
    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-poetic-frosted-side.jpg
    05-16-2016 07:56 PM
  4. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    Nameless, generic Chinese colored TPU case: I drive an orange sports car, so I've been looking for an orange case. The first reasonable looking one I found was a generic case on ebay that is available in multiple colors.


    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53...AMEBIDX%253AIT


    It's a typical generic TPU case. It's about the same thickness as the Spigen Liquid Crystal. But the top and bottom lips are smaller, the button action not as good as the Spigen (but acceptable), and the cut outs not as precisely made or aligned. And the translucent orange color ends up looking a bit pink in indoor lighting. But, again, more than acceptable for a $3.00 (including shipping) case. It offers minimal protection, but lots of options for style. And it's definitely less slippery than the bare phone.


    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-orange_case-back.jpg


    Clear / Translucent Case Reviews-orange-lip.jpg


    I haven't made up my mind. Less slippery is important, since none of these offer huge amounts of protection. It's better to not drop the phone than to hope it doesn't break when you do. I'd say the Ulak is the best comproise between protection, bulk, and grip, but the buttons annoy the Hell out of me. The Artech isn't perfect either. The sharp edge where the bumper meets the plastic surround is really annoying, and I'd seriously consider taking a little sandpaper to the hard plastic of it to see if I can improve the grip. You would think that case manufacturers would all understand that helping you not drop the phone should be a prime consideration, but most of them seem clueless about this. Almost all seem to emphasize style over substance. Just adding some texture to the edges, like Poetic has done, would cost nothing and greatly improve most of these cases. Truth be told, I still like the Spigen Liquid Crystal better than any of the others. If only it offered more protection.


    Another member here said he had no problem with the buttons on the Ulak, so maybe I'll try a second sample. I'd like to say that somewhere, someone makes a clear case that meets this rather simple set of requirements: the protection, crystal clear back, and anti-scratch design of the Ulak, the button action of the Spigen, and the textured bumpers of the Poetic. But I've been all over the internet looking, and I really don't think anyone has gotten it completely right. I've found a couple of non-clear cases that come close. More about those in a later thread.)


    One more thought about the buttons: Whatever case you're using, if the buttons don't seem to be working well, take the case off and reinstall it. Try installing it with a different side first. I found the button action could be improved, probably by changing the alignment between the case buttons and the phone buttons slightly. This didn't make the Ulak buttons acceptable to me, though.
    05-16-2016 07:56 PM
  5. Dopaliscious's Avatar
    Thanks for this. I was using the LED cover but I am sending it back. I have a 10 month old and sometimes it's just too hard to snap a photo of him doing something cute with the cover in the way, and I miss the moment. So now I am in the market for a clear case. I ordered the Spigen Liquid Crystal and the Ghostek case. I'm excited to try them, they should arrive tomorrow. I'll let you know what I think of the Ghostek.
    05-17-2016 08:00 AM
  6. danlnyc's Avatar
    I had a bad bad experience with Spigens Neo Hybrid cases. While the case looks beautiful, it's the SIDES that really bother me.

    They are extremely loose and the plastic around the edges does not stay together with the TPU resulting in a really cheap looking case. If you press the plastic around the power area, it will also make squeaky noises. I complained and Spigen sent me another replacement however the TPU was all warped and bent when it arrived. Same exact issue with the power button and the loose sides. Again complained and they sent me a Tough Armor case.

    That case has the most annoying and frustrating power button of any case I've ever tried. It's damn near impossible to press the power button in.

    I really like Spigen but I feel like they really dropped the ball with these cases.
    05-18-2016 05:17 PM
  7. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    I had a bad bad experience with Spigens Neo Hybrid cases. While the case looks beautiful, it's the SIDES that really bother me.
    The Liquid Crystal doesn't have the hard plastic trim around the edges like the Hybrid cases do. It's all TPU, and I think that makes a big difference. I've tried some other phone with the hard plastic trim, and in general don't like those as well.
    05-19-2016 09:24 PM
  8. bigoldthor's Avatar
    I'm a big TPU fan personally. I look more for protection against scrapes and scratches than actual drops, so for me it's a good solution. Provides grip, doesn't hide the beauty of your device, can be ultra thin and are cheap. Some are so thin it's not much thicker than a skin and are very hard to see. I just wash them when I wash my hands and it keeps them looking good. If they begin to get that faint yellowing discoloration, just switch it to another.

    If you're afraid of drops or are prone to dropping your phone, you will probably want to look elsewhere.

    And ftr, I'm not a big fan of clear polycarbonate. Too slippery and scratches too easily.

    I've written probably 50 case reviews on Amazon, including probably 20 or so on clear TPU cases. If you're interested, look them up under username "bigoldthor".
    05-24-2016 12:39 AM
  9. love4speechless's Avatar
    I got a translucent case today called Insipio
    05-24-2016 03:01 AM
  10. popkurn611's Avatar
    The Liquid Crystal doesn't have the hard plastic trim around the edges like the Hybrid cases do. It's all TPU, and I think that makes a big difference. I've tried some other phone with the hard plastic trim, and in general don't like those as well.
    The hard plastic trim on the neo hybrids and ultra hybrids make the phone slippery and very uncomfortable to hold especially if you rest your pinky finger on the bottom of the phone like I do when I hold it one handed.
    05-28-2016 06:32 AM
  11. oks10's Avatar
    I just got this i-Blason off Amazon. I wanted something so I could show off my dbrand skin but not be completely caseless. The back is very clear but the case is pretty slick. Might just be some residue that wears off but we will see. Only other negative is it wanted to pull up a corner of my screen protector but that was easily addressed. I'm not super impressed but I think it was worth the 11 bucks I paid. Also, it has little raised spots on the back corners to keep the clear plastic off a flat surface to reduce scratching.
    06-01-2016 07:37 PM

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