Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a brand new Android device. But your purchase means nothing if you don’t protect it. That’s why we’re talking cases, friend. They’re the best way to protect your electronic baby, whether it’s a wee little phone or a sleek tablet. You only need to ask yourself one question: “How bad am I at parenting?” Are you the type to scratch (or break) every screen you touch? Do you demand that your phone join you underwater? With all the brands, features, and gimmicks available in online case shopping, it’s hard to know where to start, but here are our picks for the most hardcore cases on the market.
Best Coverings for Nexus 7’s Absurdly Fragile Screen
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. We’ve all gotten a chance to stroke our fingers along the Google Nexus 7, and there’s no denying it’s a damn sexy piece of machinery. The problem is that it’ll fall apart if you poke it too hard. This is no joke. We’ve broken no less than three screens at the Hardcore Droid offices just by vigorously playing our favorite games. In two instances, what started as a scratch became a crack, turning our device into a brick. See, the N7 differs from most Android devices in that it doesn’t use Gorilla Glass, the standard heavy-duty screen. A source at Asus told us that Gorilla Glass could compromise the overall picture quality so they dispensed with it altogether. That means you need to protect your dainty display. We recommend investing in a Zagg InvisibleShield, which provides intense scratch and scuff protection not just for your screen but (optionally) for the entire tablet at wel l without interfering with handling—or any of the other cases on this list. The shield is self-healing and adheres incredibly well to the entire body of the device, so it’s just like giving your N7 a second, tougher skin. You’ll probably forget you even put it on, except every time you look at that immaculate screen.
Offical Nexus 7 Travel Cover
“It is not the best case!” you proclaim defiantly, and “how come they didn’t take advantage of the Nexus 7’s peripheral magnets to keep that damn cover shut!” Valid criticisms, however, the travel cover’s supple and complete polymer covering with its beveled edge to protect the paper screen face of the N 7, actually performed remarkably well in the tailgate party/drop tests we performed in our back parking lot this past Summer. A wider array of colors are available for this next generation of cases, but a model also comes in the more somber gray that was the mainstay for the first generation’s official cover.
Best Hybrid Phone Case
OtterBox Defender Series
When we say “hybrid,” we aren’t talking about fuel efficiency. These cases won’t help your battery life, but they’ll provide great protection for your Droid phone’s body and screen should you, say, get too excited about a win in Final Fantasy and drop it on the bus. Direct your attention to the OtterBox Defender for Galaxy S4, which combines three layers of extreme outer protection combined with a self-adhering screen protector for a well-rounded case that can protect against everyday threats no matter how clumsy you are. (If you’re as serious about phone protection as we are, go ahead and check our OtterBox’s other styles—they’re pricy, but generally worth the expense.)
Best Reasons Never to Bother with Windows Surface
Kensington KeyFolio Expert
Microsoft is going all out with its new tablet that combines touch screen functionality with a slim physical keyboard. And it looks neat. But why bother? It’s not like you can’t get a keyboard for your tablet. Just hook yourself up with a Kensington keyboard case and you’ll be the classiest dude in the counterculture coffee shop. You’ll also be the richest—at $65, the KeyFolio is one of the most expensive cases you can buy, but the keyboard connects via Bluetooth and you get multiple viewing angles, which is certainly more than we can say for Surface.
MiniSuit Keyboard Case for Nexus 7
For the 99% who have to shop on a budget, there are still plenty of cheap cases with keyboards. The DIAOTEC Micro USB keyboard case is hella cheap, is made of stylish (and mildly protective) fake leather, and comes with a stylus pen—but you’ll obviously have to stay connected via USB. Lame. A better solution is the Minisuit Keyboard Case, which connects via Bluetooth like the KeyFolio and cloaks your Nexus in fake leather for protection. A relatively sturdy stand provides variable viewing angles, and the connected keyboard frees up your screen for more important tasks than typing.
Best Reason to Send a Poet
Poetic Slimbook Cases
Sometimes, professional versatility is worth more than any amount of sturdy plastic. Enter the Poetic Slimbook line of tablet cases, which are perfect when you need your Galaxy Tab to look like a Moleskine with Internet. Its horizontal folds allow for multiple viewing angles, its faux-leather exterior protects your device from everyday wear and tear, and its pockets even let you keep business cards and paper notes (assuming you are some kind of freak who still uses paper, scoff scoff!). All this, plus one of the best price points on the market—under $13. If you have just half the delusions of grandeur we do, you’ll want to see all of Poetic’s designs at yourpoetic.com.
Best Way to Conquer the Elements
Griffin Survivor Series
Being able to laugh in the face of Mother Nature is a great feeling, and humans have developed tons of products that allow us to do just that—coats, for instance, and air conditioners. But while we stay safe in our parkas, our tablets and phones are expected to withstand snow, rain, dust, and all sorts of adverse weather conditions. If you use your Droid for frequent outdoor work, you’ll want a case that can turn your device into an all-terrain computer. Try the Griffin Survivor for Galaxy S3 and enjoy U.S. military-approved weather protection. If you want to go for a run during a hurricane or listen to music while kayaking, OverBoard’s alternate waterproof cases are guaranteed to be submersible up to about 19 feet—and they float, too.
Best Medieval Suit of Armor
Gumdrop DropTech for Galaxy Tab 10.1 (and others)
Sometimes, you just need the thickest protection known to man. Until our scientists figure out how to produce adamantium, you can sleep easy knowing that your Tab is shielded by an inch of sturdy rubber and a built-in screen protector. It’s not waterproof, but you could use your tablet as a high-tech Frisbee and we’re willing to bet nothing bad would happen. (Editor’s note: We are not accepting bets at this time.) Unfortunately, there’s no kickstand and docking is almost impossible, so you’ll be hard-pressed to use it for leisure; this is a rough-and-tumble pro’s case through and through. These definitely aren’t the only cases on the market, but who needs the rest? Whether you’re looking for a sleek and simple phone case or a tanklike tablet guardian, there’s something on this list for your device. Our babies can be finicky, of course, and what’s worked for our tablets and phones might turn out different for you—but stick with the models and brands above, and everyone will see exactly how hardcore you are about your Droid.
Best Clip-On Cases that Won’t Make You Look Like a Tool
Smartphone Experts Belt Clips
We’ve all seen “that guy” who goes out in public with a bulky, unnecessary belt-clip holder that makes him look like a weirdo expecting to get in a shootout with his phone any minute. But we get it—you can’t always be holding your Droid, and sometimes your pockets are full. If your belt is the last bastion of hope for phone storage, allow us to recommend the Smartphone Experts TopPouch line of clip cases. With a leather exterior and a velvet—yeah, that’s right—friggin’ velvet—interior, my HTC Inspire sleeps better than I do. Plus, it’s magnetically sealed and sits close to your body, so your phone will be secure and at the ready when you need it
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