Hard cases

Hard-shell cases have become arguably the most popular solutions for protecting your smartphone. They offer decent protection from dents, dings and scratches while adding negligible heft and girth to your device. As the go-to choice, the market has become flooded with offerings from countless manufacturers, ranging from colorful and fashion-centric to the conservative and refined. Two great options for the Galaxy Nexus are from Mobi Products and Seidio. Both have great reputations for building quality products, but which of their basic hard-shell cases is the best solution to protect your Nexus?


Seidio’s Surface Case line is available for nearly every smartphone under the sun, and offers basic protection in a slim and light profile. It’s both flexible and sturdy, and features a felt  inner-lining to protect your device’s battery cover from plastic-induced scuffs. Where other cases seem either shiny or dull, the Surface Case strikes a balance with what Seidio calls a “soft-touch finish."

Mobi Products’ Hard Shell Case is similar in design but lacks some of the flash and detail that Seidio has included. You won’t find a soft-touch finish or a felt lining here: Mobi Product’s solution is a bare-bones alternative. It also lacks an opening for the Nexus' 3-pin dock connector which, depending on your setup, may be a deal breaker.  But with its lack of detail comes with a lower pricetag: at $20, it’s priced $10 less than its Seidio competitor.


Neither product can be faulted for adding heft to the Nexus’ slim profile. Both are built with sturdy precision and clean cut-outs for the phone’s ports. But unfortunately, both suffer from one major flaw: removability. Prying apart the front and back plates is at times impossible, and is regularly an exercise in patience. Quite frankly, there is no easy or safe way to go about it. Using a penny, pen, or pin to leverage pry the two pieces apart will undoubtedly result in bends, cracks, and even discoloration.  This difficulty could be considered a pro by some who don’t want the case to come apart upon a fall, a viewpoint that does carry some weight. But for those who carry a spare battery and need to swap out at least once a day, these cases can be downright aggravating. It should also be noted that after struggling numerous times, the plastic on both products loses its shape.

This issue may be a necessary trade off for protecting your phone from bumps and drops, but it is certainly something to keep in mind considering how often you swap batteries or SIM cards. Removability is such an issue that I had to cut my Mobi Product’s case off of my Nexus with a knife to reach my battery door. Yeah, it’s that bad.  If removability isn’t an issue for you, it’s hard to pick one over the other, as both look great and come with details appropriate to their price tag. However, if easy access to your battery door is a must, it might be best to stick with a soft case until both companies come up with a better system.


Reader comments

Battle of the shell cases: Mobi Products Hard Shell vs. the Seidio Surface for the Galaxy Nexus [accessory review]


Question for the writer: the review states that the Mobi case "It also lacks an opening for the Nexus' 3-pin dock connector." The 1st picture shows the black case as missing the 3 pin connector and the bottom picture shows "Seidio" on the black case. Which is missing the 3 pin cut out?


Yeah, its backwards. The Seido case doesn't have the 3 pin cut out. Well, actually it does, its just on the wrong side. If you want the 3 pins, you need to avoid the Seido case.

Do these cases really need a cut out or the 3 pin interface? All products I know of that mate with the connectors won't work with the phone in any type of case.

If you are looking for a more protective case, the best case IMO for the Galaxy Nexus is the Speck PixelSkin HD. It is firmer than the cheaper TPU cases but phone insertion and removal is still easy.

I have an Otterbox Commuter and it is the best phone case I've ever owned. I forget it's not part of the phone most of the time. It is a two part case that has a soft rubberized case with a second hard shell peice that solidly locks it in place. It's not the rediculous Otterbox Defender either. I imagine it doesn't add much more to the size than these cases.

I'm losing faith in the OtterBox following. I'll be on my third OtterBox holster here soon - the first had a broken belt clip and the retaining clip just broke on its replacement. Both under normal usage....not sure what the deal is, but, OtterBox is not living up to its reputation for me!

Maybe the other options are better....or maybe just equally cheap. Not sure, but, this article comes at a good time!

Otterbox Commuter is hard to bear as a hardshell for the GNex... it's not even that bulky.

LOL - one single incorrect letter and your comment takes on a completely different meaning. I think you meant to say the Otterbox Commuter is hard to BEAT as a hard shell for the G'Nex. I 100% agree - I Otter'ed up my Nexus One when I got it and did the same for my G'Nex when I got it. Great protection, and easy removal when I need access to the battery.

I used to have the Seidio, but it does not remove easily. Worse, it warps a little each time you remove it so the fit gets messed up.

I've used Seidio Surface cases for several phones now. As for the remove-ability, it takes a knack and gets a bit easier the more often you remove the case.

Basically, while squeezing the sides of the part without the "grip" lines toward the center of the back to get that piece to "bow" ever so slightly outward, press in and slide down using the "grip" lines and the case will separate. There is a ridge on the top edge of the "grip" lines part which locks into the other part so you must get the other part to "bow" a bit to allow that ridge to disengage.

As I said, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Not sure if that's because you "develop the skill" or the case gets a bit more flexible allowing for easier opening.

Best part about the design is that the case doesn't fly apart if the phone is dropped as many others do...

I've tried almost every GNex case, and hands down nothing beats the Rearth Ringke SLIM case, especially if you have the white version on the white GNex. Mmmmmm, sexy.

I have the otter box defender and I hate it I need a good case for my G-Nexus but nothing at makes it really bulky like the defender does... so does anyone have any ideas on cases

I'm a little surprised you didn't include the Body Glove "Icon" case. It has the soft-touch finish of the Mobi products case, a bit of flash with chrome accents, a nice felt liner, and the top and bottom halves separate without too much effort, but aren't so loose that they will fall apart. (They have long tabs to hold them together) You guys even sell them in your store!


The only drawback is that the soft touch finish wears off of them rather easily like it does on most of the other soft touch cases. But otherwise it's as good a case as the two you review here, only you can easily get it off to change the battery when you need to.