As I perused the aisles of department store giant Nordstroms, I found myself standing in front of a showcase of iPad and iPhone cases/covers. At first I thought, what a strange place for electronics accessories, but then it made perfect sense–the smartphone case is no longer a utilitarian piece of armor for your device, it is a statement about one’s own personality.
I decided to start looking for some cases that had custom artwork and designs, but weren’t made by pretentious fashion designers. I had a pretty hard time finding something aesthetically pleasing and of high quality–everything looked pretty mundane (single colors, sometimes two tone), so I just settled for some cheapy, two-tone TPU case with a built-in stand from Amazon:
What it lacks in character, it makes up in stand
Not terrible I suppose, but nothing to write home about. The case was neither good looking nor well built. However after a stroke of good luck, I was put in contact with Korean case designer EPICASE, who was nice enough to send me some exclusive units our way.
Construction and Coverage
You guys may remember my review of the Elago Breathe case for the Galaxy S II in which I showed enthusiasm for the lightweight, back cover-type case. The EPICASE covers are also clip-on however these are built with durability in mind as they have chosen to omit perforations and are a bit thicker all around:
The back of the case is glossy and seamless, while the inside is matte, and has faint traces of molding lines:
The EPICASE is designed with cutouts for speaker, headphone jack, stylus, power and volume. The volume rockers are covered by the case, which make it easier to actuate, but the power button has been thoughtfully left uncovered/recessed as to avoid accidental activation:
Installing the case is as easy as clipping it on and one it is seated, it will stay firmly in place without the threat of popping off. I should note that the case will fit both international and U.S. variants of the note as their chassis are the same size. Compared to other clip-on cases, the EPICASE feels very sturdy and high quality. This makes perfect sense because the EPICASE business is actually a spinoff of a company that manufactures the OEM polymer backing plates found on devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Note the matching wallpaper!
Durability and Protection
Like with our Elago review, I categorize smartphone cases/covers into 3 tiers of increasing protection:
- Tier 1: Scratch resistance–Vinyl skins and screen protectors
- Tier 2: Scratch proof–Polycarbonate clip-on cases and covers
- Tier 3: Impact resistance & scratch proof–Combination of polycarbonate shells and TPE shock absorbers, 1 or 2 piece.
Like the Elago, the EPICASE offers tier two scratch protection, however there are some differences as far as coverage goes. the Elago’s edges rise up above the sides of the device which prevent the display from touching when face down but the Epicase is flush with the display–not an issue if you simply lay your phone on its back. The Epicase’s omission of perforations and slightly thicker body seems much more durable as well.
The build quality and fit of this case is definitely one of the best I’ve seen but what really shines with the EPICASE is the unique designs that are featured on their cases. EPICASE is not your run of the mill case manufacturer–they specialize in curating great artwork and work intimately with their designers to promote their endeavors:
Epicase [epikeis] pledges to create a hub, accessible to all, that not only encourages talented artists to express their art through active interactions with its particpants but also, enriches the distinguishing links between person-to-person, heart-to-heart, and potentially, art-to-culture, as well. Break from dull and repetitive everyday life and experience vivid and intensifying encounter with art. Indulge your sense with Epicase.
In an effort to cherish cultural enrichment, Epicase reserves precentages of its sales revenue towards supporting artists’ activities, coordinating the Street Gallery, and discovering new artists.
This enthusiasm for art has fostered the creation of a line of cases that showcases the unique aesthetic and style of Epicase’s designers.
Epicase’s cases feature all sorts of styles and designs ranging from morose to cute, and geometric to cartoonish. Another great feature about these cases is that they also having matching wallpapers available via the Epicase Android App. The app is free and acts as a showcase for all the designers who work with Epicase. You can easily set your wallpaper of choice by navigating to it and selecting Share > Set as.
Often times we find it hard to find where form meets function–I feel this is especially true with smartphones and their accessories. If only someone out their could bring together the designers, passionate for their art, with the case makers, who strive to make the best device protection. Oh wait–EPICASE does exactly that. A solid, well built product that will catch everyone’s eye, EPICASEs are a delightful way to decorate and protect your precious devices.
Although EPICASE is not yet available in the U.S., we are giving away the 10 cases displayed above. To enter the contest, simply complete a 3 question survey and you will be entered toward the random drawing!