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Case/off: These Samsung Galaxy S6, Edge cases pass the picky-person test

An extremely selective phone case customer weighs in on your choices for protecting your new Galaxy investment.

I tested out a bunch of cases for Samsung's two flagship phones. Josh Miller/CNET

I pretty much despise most phone cases, but it isn't because of common tropes that they "destroy to the handset's pristine form," or cost more money than they should -- although there's that, too. My issue is that I find the majority of cases unbearably ugly, cheap or overly simplistic.

That said, cases are a necessity for protecting your phone, which for me makes them a necessary evil. (I'd also kick in a glass screen protector as well, especially if you're a butterfingers like me.)

So, I gathered together a few new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge cases to put through my own personal test, aka carrying the phone around in various cases for several days at a time. This is a completely personal perspective, and I fully expect you might love those cases that make me cringe, and vice versa.

Note that options for the S6 are far more plentiful, since the S6 Edge requires more engineering work to snugly protect those vulnerable curves. That said, case-makers the world over are constantly releasing new designs for both.

My top Samsung Galaxy S6 cases

This case is probably the most approachable of the ones I tried. Josh Miller/CNET

Winner: Tech 21 Evo Check

Price: $40

Design: Simple gel sleeve.

Pros: This case wins by being the most approachable to the most people. I don't love it with my heart and soul, but it also doesn't bother me the way that some of the others did. It keeps a low profile and is easily pocketable, but the slight check design on the back and multiple colors help give it some personality without being overbearing. Power and volume keys are extremely easy to press.

Cons: Lots of bumper protection around the sides, but the low rise over the screen makes me wary of accidental faceplants. It isn't as fitted as some competitors, is more utilitarian than elegant, and seems expensive for what it is.

Additional colors: I tested it in dark blue/white (which looks more like a bright blue), but it comes in a heap of other colors, from clear to purple, to pink and smoky red.

Slim protection with reinforced corners, this Ballistic case is a steal. Josh Miller/CNET

Runner up: Ballistic Jewel

Price: $20

Design: Gel case with flared corner reinforcements.

Pros: Corners get a ton of protection and a higher rise off the screen means there's more space between the ground and your phone display if it falls down face-first. Responsive buttons. Promises 6-foot drop protection. Great value for price.

Cons: Not everyone will love this design. The bulbous edges paired with the soft plastic material can make the phone look like a jelly bean, especially in red. More color options would be nice.

Additional colors: I tested the black version, but it also comes in clear and red.

Speck's hard cases come in a variety of solid and printed designs. Josh Miller/CNET

Honorable mention: Speck CandyShell Inked

Price: $40 (You can get plain colors in the same design for $35)

Design: Simple hard plastic case with rubberized interior, rim and buttons; multiple print designs.

Pros: The rubberized rim around the phone face will provide some shock absorption if the phone falls. Rubberized strips inlaid into the plastic help keep plastic corners from cracking.

Cons: Buttons require firm pressure. Color options seem to target predominantly women or predominantly men, but don't feel unisex. Molded edges where the hard plastic meets the soft rubber accents looks unfinished at times.

Additional colors: I tried it in Vintage Bouquet Gray, Stripe Polka Heather and Color Field Blue. It also comes in Aqua Floral Blue and Speckle Blue.

I love its maximum protection with zero boxiness. This Urbanite is sturdy but comfortable. Josh Miller/CNET

Honorable mention: Ballistic Urbanite

Price: $35

Design: Hard plastic and rubberized material flare out to protect corners.

Pros: Extremely sturdy while still fitting the phone tightly, I have complete confidence that this case will shield the corners and face from drops. Like the Jewel, includes 6-foot drop protection, very responsive buttons. Great value for money.

Cons: Heavier and bulkier than your typical case, does nothing to show off the phone's design.

Additional colors: I tested it in glossy red with black, but it also comes in black on black and white with dark gray.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge cases

With this transparent S6 Edge case, less is more. Josh Miller/CNET

Winner: Skech Crystal

Price: $20

Design: Clear plastic case tightly fits S6 Edge.

Pros: This case does the best job preserving the Galaxy S6 Edge's unique curvature, while letting the design shine through. The slightly raised rim extends beyond the screen surface, especially on the more vulnerable corners. Subtle "feet" on the back act as shock absorbers.

Cons: This case mostly gets out of the way, but doesn't attempt to beautify. For the price, that's mostly OK. Additional colors might be nice.

Additional colors: None

Despite eye-catching brushed metal style, this case it isn't as sturdy as it looks. Josh Miller/CNET

Honorable-ish mention: Incipio DualPro Shine

Price: $35

Design: Brushed metal look with reinforced rubberized top and bottom strip. Plastic strips on left and right spines.

Pros: Simple, clean lines give the phone an edgy vibe. Curved corners keep screen well away from surface when face down.

Cons: Button presses felt a little "sharp," plastic spines began to separate from body when you insert the phone (but then retract). I could also pry it back with my fingernails.

Additional colors: I tested it in black, but it also comes in silver and white.

Note: I also tried Incipio's opaque Octane and Octane Pure cases, which felt flimsy and cheap, had a weird texture, and completely clouded the S6 Edge's nice backing.

You either love or hate these grippy strips. Josh Miller/CNET

Honorable-ish mention: Speck CandyShell Grip

Price: $35

Design: Four banks of plastic ridges provide a grippy surface on a glossy S6 Edge case.

Pros: It does indeed provide better grip than smooth plastic alone. A rubberized plastic buffer around the phone face helps create a tight seal and protect the screen against drops.

Cons: Handling and even holding the ridging sends shivers down my spine. Why? Who knows -- it's one of those esoteric things, but at least one of my CNET colleagues loves it. This is also a common design for Speck cases, so it's harder to identify the Edge's signature shape.

Additional colors: I have it in white with black. It also sells in black/gray, blue/pink, and gray/green.

How about you?

Are there any S6 or S6 Edge cases you swear by? Shout them out in the comments below. And for even more S6 and S6 Edge case options, check out my colleague David Carnoy's gallery (also above).