1. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    As I wrote in another thread, I really prefer to use a clear case with this beautiful phone.


    Unfortunately, none of the clear cases I've tried really meet all my requirements. So I'm looking at opaque cases, too. Truth be told, none of these meet my definition of perfect, either, but there are a couple of real nice cases in this group.

    As I wrote before: 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 at all interested in a really bulky, heavy duty case, so if that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere.

    Artech 21 Dallas Lazer Series: (C'mon guys, lets try to come up with some simpler names that are easier to say and remember.) Anyway, this case is exactly the same as the Artech 21 Clear Jelly except for two things: The TPU is black, instead of clear, and has a vertical pattern of very slight ridges on the back. It looks nice, but suffers the same issue as the Clear Jelly case, so I'll mostly repeat what I wrote about that case.

    This is a soft TPU case with a hard frame around the edge. The thickness of the TPU bumper seems to be a little less than the some TPU only cases, 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 on the front are nice and tall, and offer good protection if you put the phone face down. Fingerprints simply aren't a problem with the textured back.

    The buttons are better than some, but far from the best. They are acceptable, but a little stiff, and without much tactile feedback. Artech knows how to make good buttons, though. Their Vivid Arkansas series case has the best button action I've found so far (see review further down.) 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. It's uncomfortable, and pretty much a deal breaker for me.

    The disappointing button, recessed inside the plastic frame.
    Opaque Case Reviews-artech-dallas-button.jpg

    The textured back looks really nice. Too bad it doesn't help more with grip.
    Opaque Case Reviews-artech-dalls-edge-back.jpg

    The lips on this case do a good job of protecting the screen when you put it face down.

    Opaque Case Reviews-artech-dallas-lip.jpg

    Artech 21 Vivid Arkansas: (again with the names) This is a very nice case, with one exception that all the Arech cases have in common. Like the other Artech cases, it's a TPU case with a hard plastic rim around the outside. Unlike the other Artech cases, the buttons don't poke through holes in the hard plastic rim. Instead the plastic rim is cut out around the buttons. This makes all the difference in the world. The button action is as good as any case I've tested, including the Spigen. Well done, and Artech should copy this design to all it's other cases.

    The case is well made, the ports all align properly, it fits snugly, and it should protect reasonably well. The lips at the top and bottom of the screen are tall enough to make a difference. Unlike the Dallas Lazer and Clear Jelly Artech cases, there is no sharp edge where the TPU meets the plastic rim. That's something else Artech should copy to its other cases.

    The key differentiator here is style. Carrying the metallic (plastic) across the back is a nice touch, and I like the way it looks. You might not--to each his own. The back of the TPU is strongly ridged from side to side. You might think this would improve grip, but my hand doesn't really come into contact with that surface when I'm holding the phone normally. It's more style than anything, but it does look nice. I had hoped this would come in a vibrant red, but it's actually pretty dull and tending slightly towards pink. It's not terrible, but if I were going to order this case I'd get it in black, not red.

    The only downside here is that, once again, the edges of the phone are too slippery. The metallic finish seems even worse than the black finish on the other Artech cases (but not nearly as bad as the Ulak Slim Hybrid (reviewed below). Why can't anyone (except Speck and Poetic) get this right? As I said about another case, I might try roughing up the edges with a little sandpaper.

    All in all, it's a very nice case. If Artech can fix the slippery edges, this might be my favorite opaque case.

    Speaking of names and Arkansas, Artech 21 makes a big deal of being "a family owned business "started at Arkansas" [sic]. I'm not sure what "started at" means, but the materials packed with the case were clearly written by someone for whom English is a second language. I wouldn't choose this because you think it's made in America, because I'm sure it's as made-in-China as all the other cases.

    Not only nice looking, but the way the hard shell leaves the button exposed greatly improves button action.
    Opaque Case Reviews-artech-arkansas-back.jpg

    The lip does a good job of protecting the screen when you put the phone face down.
    Opaque Case Reviews-artech-arkansas-lip.jpg

    Speck Candyshell Grip: Impact protection is really hard to judge, and without doing a lot of testing I'm not sure what kind of case materials are best. The Ulack Clear case, with its thick, soft TPU bumper, corner "bubbles," large top and bottom lips and TPU feet on the back seems to me to be very protective. The Speck case doesn't have as thick a layer of TPU, but surrounds that with a hard, impact resistant shell. Is the hard shell better? I have no idea. On balance, my guess is that it's about as protective as the Ulak. One may do better in one type of impact, the other in a different impact. Who really knows? In any case, I think this Speck is about as protective as you'll find without a lot of bulk.

    What sets this apart from most cases is that Speck has made an effort to address the slipperyness issue. The back and sides of the case have raised TPU ridges which do add quite a bit of grip to the case. Not as much as I had hoped, as the TPU itself is a little slippery, but this is the grippiest case I've tried. I'm not crazy about the look, and it's kind of bulky, so I'll probably reserve it for times I'm going to be outdoors, or in places where I think there's more risk of either dropping the phone, or of it landing on a hard surface. In less risky locations (at home, carpeted locations, etc.) I'll stick to a clear case.

    The case is very well made of high quality materials. All the openings line up perfectly. The button action is quite good, though not as tactile as the Spigen Liquid Crystal or Artech Arkansas. The hard, glossy surface on the back is prone to scratching, but with the raised ridges hopefully it won't be too bad. The biggest drawback, for me, is the size. It's not a lot bigger than the other cases, but I have small hands and this feels just enough bigger that it's less comfortable for me to hold. The price is also an issue. When many good cases are available for around $10 or $15, I have to wonder if this one is worth $35. But if you want to avoid dropping your phone, this is the best of the bunch. It's one of my keepers for sure.

    The hard shell with a TPU liner and TPU ridges should be pretty protective, and is the grippiest case I've used.
    Opaque Case Reviews-speck-back.jpg

    Here you can see how the ridges extend from the hard plastic surface.
    Opaque Case Reviews-speck-ridges.jpg

    Ulak "Rose Gold" Slim Case Hybrid Dual Layer Cover: OK, I take back what I said about Artech's names. This one is even worse. I've mostly avoided talking about style or color in these reviews. It's a personal choice, and to each his own. But seriously ULAK, "Rose Gold"? There's nothing gold about this case. It's pink, plain and simple. There's a bit of a metallic finish on the hard plastic part, but the TPU is simply pink, pink, pink. If you like pink, this might be your case, but don't buy it expecting it to be some shade of gold.

    Anyway, this is a TPU case with a hard plastic shell around the left and right sides and across the back. The top and bottom are plain (pink) TPU, as is the area surrounding the camera, and a small slice at the bottom of the back. The TPU is a bit firmer than most, and thinner than the best of the cases I've tried. I suspect the softer, thicker cases will do a better job of absorbing impacts. The cutouts for the ports and mics are fine, and the button action pretty good. Not the best, but certainly acceptable. The lips at the top and bottom of the screen are not quite the highest, but they're tall enough to offer good protection when the phone is face down.

    But the hard plastic is very, very slippery. The most slippery case I've tried. Not much better than the bare phone. But Ulak has done one nice thing in this regard. The right (volume) side of the case has 5 long cutouts in the hard plastic, and the TPU that shows through is highly textured. This actually goes a long way to improving the grip, but it needs to be on both edges, not just one. It's helpful when you're holding the phone up to your ear, but the opposite side is so slippery that picking the phone up from a surface, or taking it out of your pocket, is still a perilous activity. Close, but quite there.

    Make both edges grippy, and offer more color options, and this would be a reasonable contender. Using a less slippery shell would make it even better.

    (Photos coming soon.)

    I have an Incipio Dualpro case on order. I'll update this thread when I have a chance to check it out.
    05-16-2016 09:48 PM
  2. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    05-16-2016 09:48 PM
  3. meyerweb#CB's Avatar
    Reserved 2
    05-16-2016 09:48 PM
  4. bigoldthor's Avatar
    Good reviews. Not a Speck fan...wayyyyyy overpriced IMHO. I've like most of the Artech and Spigen cases I've tried.
    05-24-2016 12:43 AM

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