Today we’re looking at unique cases and covers for the Galaxy Note 2
I have a couple custom options as well as some convertible options. Some more affordable cases and some very elegant options that will cost a bit more. The case market is such a varied and constantly evolving place. It's fun to see how companies are still trying to push the envelope in some new and exciting ways
Leather Wallet SNAP by Spigen
It's hard to get excited about a case, especially so deep into a smartphone's viable lifespan. The Note 2 is on the way out as the Note 3 announcement is less than a month away by all accounts. I've seen so many great takes on the humble phone cover. From protection minded to strictly made for looks, it felt like I'd seen everything that there could be. Spigen is still doing work though. It's worth your attention and real consideration to support companies that refuse to quit innovating.
Spigen's Snap isn't cheap, but it's a very well made case that is functionally two cases in one. First and foremost it is a padded leather flip case with a built-in wallet feature. I've seen this design before, but most can't match the quality of the snap. The real leather feels great and has a very clean stitching. The interior lining is almost a micro felt material called chamude. The fabric has a textured pattern in it that is very unique in a great modern way. So far nothing too exciting reported, but the surprise is still waiting. A simple snap of the actual phone holder releases it completely from the case! Two connection points at the bottom and one on top snap very easily and securely into place when you want to “re-dock” the polycarbonate phone holder. I never had an issue with an accidental detachment, this is a very well made piece. When not connected to the leather cover, the interior phone holder is just a very thin form fitted case that glides into any pocket or purse and easily docks in most charging/sound docks that allow for still attached cases. The case is available in Black or Red with contrasting accent colors on both. BUY WITH CONFIDENCE!
Custom Galaxy Note II Flip Cover by CASE-CUSTOM
We like to have exactly what we want, we're spoiled by technology. As an owner of the Note 2, your options have been a bit more limited in terms of custom cases. Companies fully embrace the mass appeal products and they are reluctant to support a product with any hesitation in its hype. You can get any accessory there is if you carry an iPhone or an S3, but things can get slim for niche devices like the largest screen available on a US carrier.
Luckily, Verizon can change everything they want it seems but they didn't really alter the physical mold of the Note 2 (though they did cripple it in plenty of other ways). What that means is that we can benefit from the Note 2's international version and its own strong following. Case-Custom is based in Hong Kong but they have a very internationally friendly website. Their custom design tool is very straightforward and simple and the final product has been great in the past. Their simple fitted snap on case was extremely well made and remains one of the best cases period that I've handled for the Note 2.
I was literally jumping up with excitement when I discovered that Case-Custom was offering their same custom design feature applied to a battery cover replacing flip cover! It's such a specialized and specific gift just for us Note 2 owners, the neglected mass of power users with big beautiful phones in our large pockets. I immediately went about designing a case. You're allowed full creativity back and front. You can pull graphics in from multiple sources, add text, color, etc. When I had something that I was happy with, I submitted my design and received a confirmation.
About two weeks later the case arrived and then my excitement was tested a bit. The back cover is plastic and the front is a hard nylon like slightly textured fabric. The printing is crisp and very well done as I'd come to expect from Case-Custom, the strongest issue was with the color reproduction. The rendering in the design tool showed a consistent darker green/blue background color throughout the whole case. In reality, the two separate printing surfaces mean that the colors will not match. You can either be upset by that, or you can embrace the fact that Case-custom does most everything else very well and select different colors for front and back. The other issue with color that I can't explain is the text printing. I'd selected a quote that would gradually fade from black to white for a gradient effect. It looked great in the rendering, in reality, the grays looked like different shades of purple unfortunately. To Case-custom's credit, they immediately explained that they'd ask for a picture to see an issue and then immediately print a replacement for any customer that found an issue with their piece.
There are a couple of issues to mention. The company stamped a gigantic strange logo that was even a bit off centered on my example. It's right on the inside cover of the case and it's UGLY. No way around it, for all of the good that this company does, I can't understand this design decision. The back battery cover was also a bit hard to snap on in the top right corner. I eventually got it in, but I was concerned I might snap something off. This could be isolated to my own case, something to watch for though. Finally, no NFC is a hard sell for me. While the inside of the back cover has the same indentation to accept an NFC antenna, one is not included. I'm not sure how simple it is to do, but some have discussed transferring NFC from stock back covers to custom cases before. If you're feeling adventurous and you're really happy with the case you'll design, it might be worth the research to give it a go.
Concerning the printing issues and the fact that the back cover was difficult to attach, I'd take some pause before purchasing. I tend to believe the company when they say they will quickly remedy any issue that you find. As an added bit of reassurance, if any one of you goes forward and finds an issue, feel free to reach out to me and I'd be glad to intervene on your behalf.
C 432 Smart Wallet Case by Lab.C
Lab.C is another line of cases designed and sold overseas that we can luckily take full benefit of here in the states. Lab.C is based in Korea and they are very conscious of design. Their website is very non traditional but it's a great showcase of their product. This case is very similar to Spigen's Snap. While it functions similarly, the build suffers a bit. The internal structure isn't quite rigid enough to be successful. From the outside, the C432 smart wallet case is clearly informed by cases that mimic the Moleskine notebook. The elastic closure that contrasts the main color of the overall case. Unfortunately, while the Note 2 is in the case and the elastic band is applied, the corners fold over and it's just not very attractive. The internals seem to be more like cardboard instead of the plastic or polycarbonate of heartier cases on the market.
The Smart Wallet Case actually has a better wallet design than the Snap in my opinion. There are more card slots and they have notches cut to allow for easier card removal. This is also a two in one design, rather than Spigen's snap, the Lab.C case uses very gentle magnets to try to keep the phone in place. You can also detach the magnetic hold partially and use the case as a stand. The magnets are in the case itself and not the detachable inner cover, so there is no fear of issues with the note 2's functionality. Even when attached in the case though, the magnets are gentle enough to not interfere with the s-pen in my experience. Unfortunately they aren't strong enough to necessarily hold the phone in place with regular use. The inner case would routinely shift within my pocket throughout the day, but it would stay in the case when the elastic band was used. Unfortunately, the reality of flip cases is that you can fumble at times during calls or while taking photos. I've almost dropped and luckily caught a falling phone more than once by the cover flap. With the C 432 the phone would end up falling from the case in this situation.
The fitted inner plastic phone skin is even thinner than the snap's interior case which is a plus for docking, but won't offer as much piece of mind in terms of protection. The outer cover of the smooth finished black and red models are much too flimsy and they feel cheap. All of the other available colors come with the textured finish, if you're going to buy one of these cases, go with the textured options. Between the two, I prefer the security of the SNAP, but the snap doesn't offer the stand functionality. The SNAP does have cutouts in both layers for the camera, flash, and s-pen where the C 432 does not. Consider the good and the not so good and pick what fits your need.
C 435 The Real by Lab.C
This is without a doubt the best LOOKING phone cases that I've seen for the Note 2. As in life though, looks aren't everything. It is so stunningly simple and elegant. The leather, available in three shades, is actually vegetable leather. It's very clean and it's designed to patina with use and grow into you like an old baseball glove. It gives the effect that you've taken a piece of very nice leather and wrapped it around your phone. No stitching to complicate things, just a sheet of leather. The inner lining is just the other side of the raw leather. While this looks fine and adds to the natural look, it just doesn't feel very great during use. While on a phone call you'll wrap the leather flap around back and your hand will grasp it. It's rough, raw, and course.
You phone sits in a snap in molded inner case. In the case of my dark brown leather, the inner case is a metallic copper. While it looks a little gaudy by itself, it looks amazing with a phone in it. Just enough of the copper shows next to the dark brown leather and the effect is again, very elegant. Cutouts all match up and are done very simply. The leather isn't stamped, stitched or reinforced around the edges. Just clean cuts to reveal the camera and flash, speaker grill, s-pen slot, and a cutout of the ear speaker around front to make calls while the case is closed if that's comfortable for you.
I really love the restraint in branding above all else with this case. This is a company that understands that they are selling a fashion accessory. They've included their logo twice, but both are very subtle and even add to the look in my opinion. BUY WITH CONFIDENCE.
Custom 3D Engraved case by 3DP
3D printing is taking over the world. Amazon is opening a 3D printing section and even some retail stores are quickly jumping on board already. The possibilities are literally as vast as any designers imagination. We've already seen examples of 3D printing in organ replacement, weapons, and entire homes all the way down to the small scale of children's toys. Made in China becomes made at your desk. The initial awe and the novelty of what crazy ideas could be printed has started to fade, being gradually replaced by a wave of practicality. What can we actually use 3D printing for in a more practical day to day application?
3DP is doing two things with their custom cases. They're beginning the shift to 3D printing for a purpose and they are helping to get people used to the idea and process. 3DP's online design tool is simple enough but not over simplified. Even though I didn't understand all of the options offered, I was able to toggle them and see how it affected the real time preview rendering of your design. You can upload any picture from your computer and while some work better than others, you'll be able to get a good idea of the picture in the 3D design. Some will be a bit abstract, but then you've just created an interesting conversation piece at least. I found the most success in using Vector art. Simple designs using shapes and thicker lines. You'll select one color from a full range and then you can decide whether you'd like text added. The company is based in France so production and delivery will take a minute.
When the actual case arrived, I was happy for the most part, but some of the lines were a bit softer than in the rendering. Overall the effect was clear, but things were a bit underwhelming. Perhaps with some tweaking and a little more understanding of 3D design on my end, something more amazing could be done. There is definitely a lot of potential for something more. This is a new technology without wide-stream acceptance to date, that translates into high production costs for the company and a high price tag for you and me. It isn't cheap to be ahead of the curve.
Thank you again to the companies above for supplying their product for this review.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!