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Hands-on with the UAG Plasma, Pathfinder, and Monarch for the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

There are plenty of case options for the new Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, but my favorite cases for drop protection are now available from Urban Armor Gear.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

UAG Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus lineup

Over the past month of using the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, see my full review, I have tested a number of cases and am impressed by the plethora of options and quality at reasonable prices. However, it wasn't until this past week that I was able to spend time with my favorite rugged cases from Urban Armor Gear.

UAG sent along the Citron Plasma, Orange Pathfinder, and Graphite Monarch series for me to evaluate. This is the first time I have tried out a Citron color case and I have to say I like the opaque lime green color scheme.

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2 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Upper back of the Citron Plasma series

The Citron Plasma series case is much lighter than I anticipated, yet still meets the MIL STD 810G 516.6 drop-test standards. There is an ample opening for the camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor with the cutout for the fingerprint sensor designed to help you target the sensor since it can be tough to hit regularly the first time.

The power and Bixby buttons have ridges on them and great tactile feel so you can easily press every time. There are openings on the bottom for the USB Type-C port, speaker, headset jack, and microphone. One opening is up top for the microphone.

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3 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Lower back of the Citron Plasma series

There is plenty of rubber material in the corners to help with drops and material inside to also protect your phone while it rest in the case.

The case is available now for $39.95.

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4 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Left edge of the Citron Plasma series

The edges are minimal enough so that both edges of the display are fully usable, without compromise.

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Inside of the orange Pathfinder series

I always buy an orange UAG case since it is my favorite color. The Orange Pathfinder case for the S8 Plus is also priced at $39.95 and is built to be about the same as the Plasma series.

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Upper rear of the orange Pathfinder series

The case has a solid color on it so you cannot see the back of your Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus in the case. There is also a flatter inside surface with scratch resistant material to protect the back of your phone in the case.

The buttons and port openings are exactly the same as the Plasma series case.

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UAG branding on the back of the Pathfinder case

Subtle stylish branding and strong frame lines on the back.

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8 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Monarch series for the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The Monarch series for the Galaxy S8 Plus is the top of the line premium case option from UAG. It is priced at $59.95 and only comes in one color, Graphite.

The Monarch series offers five-layers of protection wtih a tough frame piece, top grain leather, a polycarbonate shear plate, alloy metal hardware torx screws holding the layers secure, and impact resistant rubber. The case meets the 2X military drop-test standards, MIL STD 810G 516.6. It also comes with a 10-year limited warranty, which is longer than anyone ever keeps a smartphone.

Like the other UAG cases, it is simple to install, just snap your phone down and into place. These UAG cases also hold your phone securely in place. The front of the case is designed to rise above your display about a millimeter or two so that you can rest your Galaxy S8 Plus face down on a table and rest assured the display is not directly on the surface.

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9 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Rear of the Graphite Monarch UAG case

UAG improved the side grip of the device through the use of soft rubber in a honeycomb pattern running down both sides and a bit around and onto the back. This design improves the grip of the S8 Plus, which by itself is very slippery.

The corners have reinforced TPU corners for added drop protection. Most of the time when a phone is dropped and has issues, it's the landing on the corners that causes much of the damage. The Galaxy S8 Plus has a high level of water resistance and Gorilla Glass 5 front and rear panels, so there is still a need for drop protection that is provided by the UAG case.

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Port access on the bottom of the UAG Monarch

Raised buttons are in place for the power, Bixby, and volume buttons. They are a bit more flush than on the Plasma and Pathfinder series, but are still easy to find and press without looking.

As much as I am impressed by the side design and improved grip, the new back design is fantastic. I love the composite frame piece, leather highlights, and aluminum torx screws in the corners. The Monarch case is the ultimate from UAG and looks fantastic on the Galaxy S8 Plus.

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No errors with the edge panel here

The case extends down far enough so that the edges are usable.

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Great combination of materials

The leather panels give the Monarch series a high class look and feel.

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