Meeting military drop-test standards MIL STD 810G 516.6, Urban Armor Gear’s Card Case protects your phone against inadvertent drops, bumps, bruises, and otherwise smartphone-killing tumbles of everyday life thanks to the coupling of a soft impact-diffusing core with a hard outer shell. And while it’s not the slimmest case in their offerings, it’ll likely still lighten your carry on most days since it’s got a back door that swings open to reveal a cutout for up to four cards — there’s likely enough space for a folded banknote or two as well. Pair it to their tempered glass screen protector for even more thorough security.
Dependance on a network of cell towers is acceptable when you’re in town, but stray a little (read: a lot) off the beaten path and you’re suddenly on your own. Beartooth aims to solve this problem by equipping your existing smartphone with a software-defined two-way radio that allows for communications with other Beartooth-linked smartphones without the need for any added infrastructure, relying instead on sub 1GHz license free bands. It also allows for individual and group messaging plus automatic or on-demand GPS location sharing to help locate friends on high quality topographic maps, working at ranges of over two miles depending on altitude. And if your smartphone’s drained, plug it into Beartooth’s USB port to charge it up using the latter’s 3,000mAh battery.
Hit up Beartooth for details – $250 for two
Refined through and through, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is very likely the best smartphone to ever come out of the South Korean corporation’s factories. First off it’s once again waterproof, surviving dips of up to 5 feet for 30 minutes without the need for any special rubber port covers (and meaning that a 5 second drop in the toilet won’t end it). The Android Marshmallow-powered smartphone boasts a 5.5-inch Quad HD super AMOLED display — bigger than the non-Edge S7’s 5.1-inch display — that features dual curved edges to completely fill the device’s front-facing real-estate. Plus, the new 12-megapixel camera is the first to use dual-pixel technology, which leverages each individual pixel of its sensor into acting as a focus pixel for super quick autofocus, faster launch, and better low light sensitivity. Other features include 32GB of integrated memory with the option of adding a microSD with 200GB more, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 octo-core processor powering the thing, and a larger 3,600mAh battery,
Learn more at Samsung – $TBA
Wrapping your smartphone in a case is the most straightforward way to make it yours. But few are as unique as Cut Maps Wooden Cell Phone Cases, a line of snap-on iPhone cases that feature a Cherry veneer on their backsides that’s been laser engraved with highly detailed street maps of various cities including New York, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, and plenty more. Available in versions that fit the iPhone 6/6S, 6/6S Plus, and 5/5S, they’re a welcome departure from ubiquitous cheap-looking image-backed cases.
Learn more at Cut Maps – $30+
A smartphone’s LED-emitted light is rarely described as warm, soft, or relaxing. Fred & Friends’ Travelamp Light Diffuser actually makes it so. This soft silicone lamp weighs in at about an ounce and a half and features an integrated rubber band-like strap to slide onto any small to mid-sized smartphone, diffusing the otherwise sharp, directional light into something far better for reading, playing cards, or just setting the mood.
Probably the loudest telephone on Earth thanks to two front-facing speakers, the Android Lollipop-running Marshall London Smartphone is all about facilitating the way you consume and create music on the go. An M-button on top gives you one-click access to your music playback on the fly, even on top of other apps, and unlike all other smartphones its volume is controlled via a precise scroll wheel, perfect for finding that optimal sweet spot of loud but not deafeningly so. It’s also got two 3.5mm stereo jacks each with independent volume control for sharing with a friend, a Cirrus Logic WM8281 Audio Hub with an independent audio processor, Bluetooth aptX support, dual mics for stereo recording, and a global equalizer.
Hit up Marshall Headphones for details – $TBA
Chances are good that most of your music listening starts with an iPhone. And if you’re worried about sound quality degradation by radiowaves like LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi interfering with your phone’s headphone amplifier, the +Simplism Hibiki may help. High tech PULSHUT MU material affixed to the back of the case purportedly reduces non-audio wave noise without the need for an external amplifier, resulting in a cleaner sound. Moreover, the case is meticulously sculpted from white ash and features three slightly protruding supporting points for vibration suppression when the phone is laid on its back. And, importantly, it’s drop dead gorgeous.
Maybe you could get by with just three cards — or even one — or maybe you just prefer keeping your most-used card close at hand. Either way the Bellroy Phone Case makes an elegant solution to overstuffed, under-organized pockets. These iPhone 6 cases wrap premium full-grain vegetable tanned leather over flexible polycarbonate and spotlight a thumb-accessible one card or three card holder on the backside. And, just in case, there’s also enough room to slip a banknote under your device, right beside a slot specifically shaped to cradle a SIM card.
Find it at Bellroy – $55 to $65