You've just bought a new, shiny, expensive smartphone -- it only makes sense that you should protect it. Samsung's Galaxy S5 is a sturdy phone already, but an extra layer of protection is never a bad thing. Based on a couple of months of testing, these are three of the best cases you can buy for your new phone.
The Galaxy S5 has been out for three months, so all the big smartphone case manufacturers have had a chance to release cases in the right dimensions. Since it's already dust- and waterproof, buying a case functions largely to protect your expensive smartphone investment against accidental drops.
Buying a roughly $40 case may seem like an excessive purchase, but if it protects you once from a $300 screen replacement or a dented chrome bezel, it's worth the asking price. I've been road-testing a bunch of cases since the S5's launch and, so far, these are my three favourites.
Tech21 Impact Tactical
The Impact Tactical from Tech21 is a relatively slim case, but it's made of a hard-wearing rubberised plastic from D3O which cushions against drop without transferring the shock to the phone itself. That same plastic finish is also quite good at hiding scratches and marks, so the Impact Tactical is a smart choice if you care about how your phone looks.
If you don't like the look of the $37.99 Impact Tactical, you can buy the Impact Mesh or the Impact Herringbone which have broadly the same protection and features, but come in a wider variety of colours and designs. I prefer the jet-black Tactical, since it doesn't look gaudy, but your mileage may vary.
Otterbox Commuter Wallet
If you don't want to carry a wallet with you, or even if you don't have enough space in your slim wallet, the $41.95 Otterbox Commuter Wallet is a great choice. It's very sturdy -- unlike the Tech21 cases, its outer case is a hard plastic shell rather than a rubberised one, although there's a soft internal sleeve as well.
The Commuter Wallet distinguishes itself with a slide-out, credit-card-sized storage compartment in the rear of the case, which can hold two or three credit cards and some folded-up bills; if you have a single RFID chip-and-pin credit card, you can also tap the rear of the Wallet against a PayPass/Paywave terminal or other RFID card reader. It's not a perfect wallet replacement, but for toting an Opal card or Myki and some spare cash it works really well.
The faux-carbon fibre rear of the $34.95 Cygnett UrbanShield looks pretty good, and it has a glossy finish that does a pretty good job of preventing scratches and scuffs without looking ugly or cheap. The UrbanShield is entirely made of hard plastic, so it'll transfer a small amount of shock to your phone if you drop it -- which could potentially crack the screen if it's a big fall, although the chances are much reduced over having no case at all.
The best feature of the UrbanShield is that it protects the front glass of the Galaxy S5 without extending too far forwards, so it doesn't significantly increase the dimensions of the phone and make it feel clunky and large (which, to be fair, the Commuter Wallet does, but it has a good reason to). It also doesn't extend around the entire edge of the chrome bezel, and so doesn't foul the headphone jack, infrared or USB ports of the S5.
Do you have a favourite case for your Galaxy S5 or any other smartphone? Let us know in the comments below.