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OtterBox Samsung Galaxy Note 9 case roundup: Slim drop protection in various styles

The Galaxy Note 9 is Samsung's most expensive smartphone yet and while it offers a high level of dust and water resistance, it is still susceptible to drops. OtterBox is known for protecting your phones and has several options for the Note 9.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, see our full review, is one of the best phones for business in large part due to the S Pen, big screen, storage, and more. Thus, it is perfect for work outside the office, but these big glass sandwiches can also break if dropped.

OtterBox has several options for protecting your Note 9 in the form of Defender, Symmetry, and Commuter series cases. Over the past couple of weeks I have been using Defender and Symmetry models, along with the Alpha Glass screen protector to keep my new Note 9 in pristine condition.

These OtterBox cases are all part of the Designed for Samsung program so you can trust they will fit your device perfectly and have no limitations on functionality.

OtterBox Defender

The $59.95 OtterBox Defender is the most protective offering from OtterBox, comprised of three layers to help your chances in the case of an accidental drop. The case has OtterBox Certified Drop+ Protection, which means it has passed more than 24 test over more than 238 hours. Looking at the list of tests, it is impressive what these cases go through to earn this certification.

There are two pieces to the hard plastic inner frame; a back piece that includes the four sides with a soft foam shock layer inside the back and a minimal front frame that snaps securely into place while supporting Edge Panel interaction. After these two pieces secure around your Note 9, then the outside thick silicone slipcover fits over the plastic frame pieces. This outer layer has port covers for the 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port with raised buttons for volume, power, and Bixby.

One thing we have seen on some recent Note 9 cases is cover for the S Pen, which protect this area and keep the S Pen securely in place, but also make it a bit inconvenient for using the S Pen all the time. Thankfully, OtterBox understands the importance of the S Pen for Note users so this area is open and easily accessible at all times.

There is a very large opening on the back for the dual cameras, flash, sensors, and fingerprint sensor. The case makes it easier to hit the fingerprint sensor target as well so I prefer to have the Note 9 in a case for easy unlocking.

The Note 9 feels very secure in this case and you can trust it will protect your phone. There is no screen protection, but if you want that then check out my thoughts below on the OtterBox Alpha Glass protector.

The case works with wireless charging, but you may find that placement is a bit more particular with the Defender case. For example, I received a new Samsung wireless duo charging setup when I bought the Note 9, but in the upright angled position the wireless charger does not work. However, when I placed it on the horizontal pad, intended for the Galaxy Watch, it works just fine. Wireless charging also works on other horizontal chargers I tested.

The OtterBox Defender case package also includes a holster so you can carry your Note 9 on your belt. The hard plastic frame is easy to snap your Note 9 in and out of with a belt clip that opens about half an inch to attach to your belt. The belt clip rotates around 360 degrees in increments of 30 degrees to fit your situation perfectly.

The case is reasonably priced for something this protective and well designed. It comes in black, purple nebula, and dark lake blue. I tested the black one out, but am considering a blue one to match my blue Note 9.

OtterBox Symmetry series

OtterBox also sent along three color variants of the Symmetry series, including Ivy Meadow Green, Love Triangle, and Clear. OtterBox also offers the Symmetry in Black, Tonic Violet Purple, Gradient Energy, and Stardust. The Gradiant Energy one looks slick and I may have to try this one out some day.

The Symmetry cases are priced at $49.95 with the Love Triangle and Gradient Energy ones at $5 more ($54.95) for the unique design colors.

The Symmetry series cases are one piece cases that also meet the OtterBox Certified Drop+ Protection. You simply snap your Note 9 into the case and then start at a corner to carefully remove it when you want to switch out of the case. Wireless charging and Samsung Pay work just fine with these cases.

The back is hard plastic material, even the clear one, with synthetic rubber around the edges to serve as a nice bumper for drops and added grip. Three of the four corners have hard plastic to protect the device, but the one corner with the S Pen is open so you can easily access and use the S Pen. The case is slim with very little added bulk for a great level of drop protection.

The colored Symmetry cases, such as the Ivy Meadow Green one, have synthetic rubber on the inside back to help protect the back of your Note 9 and also offer a level of shock resistance.

There are raised buttons for volume, power, and Bixby with openings for the mics, 3.5mm headset jack, and USB-C port. Around the back there is a large opening for the cameras, flash, sensor, and fingerprint sensor.

OtterBox Alpha Glass screen protector

There is no screen protection on any of the OtterBox cases so if you want to add protection for the display you have to add it yourself. I applied an Alpha Glass screen protector to my Note 9, available for $44.95.

The Alpha Glass screen protector is a tempered glass protector that is designed for clarity, touch sensitivity, and anti-shatter/scratch resistance. There is a bit of black color at the top and bottom of the protector to match the bezels of the Note 9 with curved glass at the two sides to match the Note 9.

There are specific directions for the screen protector, along with two plastic guides that slide onto the top and bottom of the Note 9. Application was extremely easy after applying these two guides and peeling off the back clear plastic, followed by simply placing the protector on the display. There were no bubbles under the protector and it looks great.

After applying the screen protector, I found the display to be nearly unusable and was about to peel off the protector and throw it away. I then looked over the instructions a bit more and found that there is a setting on the Note 9 that must be toggled on to use the screen protector. Go into Settings>Advanced Features and then toggle on Touch Sensitivity. This is specifically designed to increase the touch sensitivity for screen protectors and after making this switch the performance of the display, including with the S Pen, has been flawless.

I cannot even tell there is a glass screen protector on the phone with the feel perfectly matching the Note 9 display and clarity being perfect. I actually see less fingerprints on the protector than the glass display without it so prefer to have it in place.

The Alpha Glass protector covers all of the viewable display and extends out over the edges a bit. However, there are still gaps around the display so that you can use cases with the screen protector applied. I've tried all of these OtterBox cases, as well as many other cases with the screen protector.