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LifeProof Next for Samsung Note 9: Clear drop protection with little added bulk

The Galaxy Note 9 has a high level of dust and water resistance, but it is still made of glass panels and isn't made to be dropped. LifeProof has a case option designed to protect from drops while also showing off the cool Samsung color schemes of the device itself.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

LifeProof Next retail package and case design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, see our full review, is a fantastic phone for business users and thanks to the S Pen, I take it out into the field to take handwritten notes on a regular basis. While it is great for field notes, I do worry about dropping the $1,000 phone. That is where LifeProof steps up to the plate with a compelling case option.

A LifeProof Next in black crystal arrived for testing and for the last couple of weeks I have been using it while commuting, working, and fly fishing on the Yakima river. It offers excellent drop protection while being slim, sleek, and light weight.

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2 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Dual rear cameras and fingerprint sensor

LifeProof advertises the Next as being dropproof, dirtproof, and snowproof. I dropped the Note 9, tossed it in the dust, and put it under the water while fishing, but I did not get a chance to test it out in the snow. The LifeProof Next case consists of two pieces that snap tightly together to seal in your Galaxy Note 9. The back is composed of a rigid clear plastic that extends up to the four sides to hold your Note 9 in place without any ability to shift. There is an inner seal around the dual camera and fingerprint scanner, as well as along the four edges.

The front piece has clear plastic and colored softer material that fits over the top of your Galaxy Note 9. The silicone material is black, but there is also a cactus rose (light pink) color available. After placing your Samsung into the back piece, this top part snaps in place. Make sure to go all around every edge as you will hear a lot of clicking as the front locks in place.

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3 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

S Pen cover on the bottom

There are raised buttons for the power button on the right side and volume/Bixby buttons on the left. Covers protect the USB-C port, 3.5mm headset jack, and S Pen along the bottom. I have short fingernails and found it just a bit challenging to open the covers and with my frequent use of the S Pen, it was a bit frustrating. Then again, having a secure cover over these ports and the S Pen ensures they are protected and dropping the Note 9 won't result in the S Pen flying around the shipyard or wreck site.

Wireless charging and Samsung Pay work well with your Note 9 inside the case. With Bluetooth and wireless charging, the only port cover I opened regularly was the one for the S Pen. Honestly, I would like to see a S Pen cover that was a bit easier to open since I use the S Pen so often.

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4 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Front raised edges of the LifeProof Next

There is no cover on the front of this case so if you want to protect the display then you should consider a tempered glass screen protector. I'll be testing one of these from OtterBox shortly. The Galaxy Note 9 does have an IP68 dust and water resistant rating so you could drop your Galaxy in this case in the water, but I would try to avoid that if possible.

The edges of the case are raised a bit so your display is protected when placed on a table. The case fits perfectly up along the edges so that the Edge Panel functionality works perfectly too.

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5 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Bottom port covers protect the device

The LifeProof Next case is quite slim for a protective case and you no longer have to double the thickness of your phone to get a solid level of protection. I've spent years with massive cases designed to protect my phones so it is refreshing to have slim cases provide 2 meter drop protection. It is available now for $79.99.

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6 of 6 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Raised buttons for volume and Bixby

The raised buttons in the silicone material are large enough for easy manipulation, but not too large for accidental pressing.

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