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The Galaxy S21 comes in three sizes and the case you pick may be partially determined by the S21 model you have. The flagship S21 Ultra, which has a 6.8-inch screen, is the heaviest of the bunch and isn't a phone you necessarily want to hold in your hand all the time. That's why I like using a case with an integrated kickstand, so I can prop it up. The same might be said for the smaller S21 Plus (6.7-inch screen) and the standard S21 (6.2 inches), neither of which are compact. But everybody has their own opinions about phone cases and everyone has different needs, which is why my picks come in a variety of styles, from slimmer models to more rugged cases to folio wallet cases.

Note that some of the recommendations for these Galaxy S21 series cases are based on my experience using nearly identical models with preceding Galaxy smartphones, as well as iPhones. Where multiple products are shown, the price listed is the starting price for the line. Make sure that you're buying the case that matches the specific model of your S21 (Ultra, Plus or standard).

I regularly update this best Samsung case roundup with new picks as more candidates arrive. 

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Speck

Leading case maker Speck brings a selection of protective case options to the Galaxy S21, including (from left to right in picture above) the Presidio Perfect-Clear, Presidio Perfect-Mist, Presidio Perfect-Clear Ombre, and Presidio2 Grip. 

All the new models have very good drop protection (13 to 16 feet, depending on the model) as well as Speck's Microban antimicrobial coating. The cases start at $40 in various color options, but Speck is currently offering 30% off your first order sitewide.

Amazon

If you're looking for a cheap clear case for your new Galaxy S21, Spigen's Ultra Hybrid is a good value at around $12 to $15, depending on the version you get. I like the Ultra Hybrid S (on left in photo), which has an integrated kickstand.

No drop rating is listed for this Samsung phone case, but it feels like Spigen's transparent cases offer reasonable protection. If you want a tough case with decent protection, Spigen's Tough Armor case (on right in photo) is an option for $18 to $19 and also has an integrated kickstand. Note that a lot of these cheaper clear cases have a habit of turning yellow and degrading over time, which makes them less translucent. But they're cheap enough that you probably won't mind shelling out for a replacement if and when that happens.

Samsung

Available in brown or black, Samsung's leather case offers a hardened protective layer around the cameras while delivering a nice leather feel the rest of the way around. Leather doesn't affect wireless charging or anything, so you can pop this on your phone and have it feel nice without sacrificing anything. 

Samsung

Samsung's Clear Standing Cover isn't anything fancy but it's a protective clear case that has an integrated kickstand. You can prop your phone up horizontally or vertically using the kickstand, which seems sturdy (it's larger than Spigen's integrated kickstand). I regularly use this case.

Clckr

I've become a recent fan of Clckr's cases, which feature a built-in stand and grip strap that folds out and clicks into place on the back of your phone. Clckr sells just the stand-strap accessory to stick on the back of your phone or on a case, but the case with the integrated stand accessory is better. The selection for the S21 is currently pretty limited (there's only a clear version S21 and S21 Plus, not the S21 Ultra), but perhaps the options will expand over time.

The cases aren't rugged but they're protective enough, with raised edges to protect the screen. The ones I've used with other phones have held up well over time. 

With the stand clicked in place, you can use your device hands-free in either portrait or landscape mode. Note that you can wirelessly charge your phone with this case on, though you have to be more careful about placing it in the right spot on a wireless charging pad for it to work. The new models have antimicrobial protection.

Amazon

The company's super protective Defender series case is available for all the Galaxy S21 models, but most people want something less bulky. I like the Symmetry series cases -- they're slim with beveled edges, making them a good mix of sleek and protective. That said, I've come to like the more protective Commuter Series better, thanks to the grips it has on the back and sides, as well as having raised edges on the front that should help protect your screen.

ArmadilloTek

Sometimes you need more than an average case, and while there are plenty which claim "ruggedness" there are only a few willing to back that claim up. ArmadilloTek's Vanguard series is MIL STD 810G rated, which means it can survive drops of up to 20 foot thanks to its multilayer design. Even with those layers in between the phone and the charger, one of which includes a pull-out stand, this case still supports wireless charging. 

Gear4

British case-maker Gear4, now owned by Zagg, makes cases that are right there with OtterBox and Speck. They're all lined with the company's D3O shock-absorbing material and feature beveled edges to protect your phone. Shown here from left to right are the Havana (10-foot drop protection), Denali (16-foot drop protection), Crystal Palace (13-foot drop protection) and Copenhagen (13-foot drop protection). All use some recycled plastic in their construction, but the Copenhagen, made out of 52% plant-based material, is the most eco-friendly.

Prices range from $30 to $50 for the top-end Denali, which is the Gear4 case I probably like best.

Amazon

Particularly with the two larger models of the Galaxy S21, I find that having an integrated kickstand is a nice feature and the ESR kickstand case is about as affordable as you get at around $15, the same price as Spigen's Neo Hybrid S.

David Carnoy/CNET

Cyrill is a sub-brand of Spigen and like Spigen, its cases generally sell for less than $20. Cyrill doesn't have quite the same selection for the Galaxy S21 as it does for the iPhone 12, but it has some protective clear cases with floral designs (pictured on right), as well as the Brick Matte Finish Bumper case, which has a soft-to-the-touch finish (pictured on left). It has a raised frame on the back that provides some extra protection for the camera lenses. The corners of the case have a raised lip as well.

Amazon

Some people like to have full-screen protection, so they go with a folio case that covers the screen. The Strada Via is a new folio case from Otterbox that has a soft-to-the-touch finish and stays closed thanks to a set of magnets. It's also got a slot for storing a credit card or two. The only thing I didn't like about it is that it doesn't convert into a kickstand for video viewing.

Amazon

X-Doria has brought its Raptic Shield case to the Galaxy S21 series. Available in a few color options, it costs less than competing premium cases from Speck and OtterBox and has 10-foot drop protection, as well as an antimicrobial treatment. I'm personally fond of X-Doria's Raptic Air case (13-foot drop protection), but that model isn't available for the Galaxy S21 models. 

David Carnoy/CNET

For the Galaxy S21, UK-based Mous makes its Clarity Lite ($55) clear case with anti-yellowing tech as well as its Limitless 3.0 case ($60), which comes in a few different eye-catching styles (Aramid Fiber is shown on left). They're all lined with the AiroShock material that the company says delivers excellent protection in a slim design. They do seem durable and all include a lifetime warranty.

Mous' Limitless 3.0 cases are compatible with the company's Limitless 3.0 accessories. That includes a wallet that magnetically adheres to the back of the phone case and a few mounts, one of which is an air-vent mount for your car. 

It's also worth noting that the Limitless 3.0 cases are the only ones I've seen that have a SIM-card storage slot on the inside of the smartphone case for international travelers in the habit of SIM-swapping.

Mous gives 10% off on first orders through its website. We expect we'll see these cases on Amazon in the near future, perhaps with better pricing.

David Carnoy/CNET

Lifeproof's Wake case is made out of recycled ocean plastic. It's attractively designed but I wouldn't call it super tough -- it isn't enclosed at the bottom and has 6-foot drop protection. (Note that some cases on this list have higher drop-protection ratings.) Lifeproof offers $15 off your first order on its website. 

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