Alcantara is a fabric typically associated with the interiors of race cars and their sporty consumer counterparts, but in recent years it's been adapted as a choice for consumer electronics as well. Microsoft has been putting feet of the stuff on the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, and Samsung has also locked it in as a go-to material for its flagship phone cases. And I'm glad it has, because the Alcantara case for the Galaxy S9 is, without a doubt, the most luxurious way to protect your phone.
And better yet, it doesn't have a luxury price tag.
Most other cases focus on a hierarchy of protecting your phone, being thin and light, and looking good. The Alcantara case does these things, of course: it's thick enough to provide drop protection, it's relatively thin and definitely light, and it has a unique style that looks good to most people. But it goes a step better by also being wonderful for your hand to feel, which is something so often overlooked by other cases.
Holding the Alcantara case is, indeed, a luxurious experience. The tiny little fibers have enough of a pile to give you added grip, but not enough to feel like you're holding a phone made out of literal carpeting. After a while you don't really perceive it as being a fabric case, you just enjoy using a device that isn't cold and sterile anymore. Though you'd expect the case to get kind of gross with sweaty or wet hands, it really doesn't — the fact that it's a light fabric actually helps wick away moisture. There's a reason why they put Alcantara on car steering wheels: it's soft and comfortable to hold for long periods.
The core of the case is a hard plastic shell that's rigid enough to hold up to drops and bumps, and the Alcantara fabric is precisely laid over the top. There's a subtle lip around the front of the phone that'll help protect the curved screen from errant touches and also protect it when it's face-down on a table. The case does accumulate a little bit of lint and dirt over time, depending on where you're tossing the phone, but that's a small downside you expect with a fabric-laden case — and it's easy enough to just wipe off. That's a straight trade-off for not having to think about scratches and scuffs on a traditional hard plastic case, though.
Unlike the last generation, there are plastic button protrusions that are easy to find without looking and give you satisfying feedback — I'd say this is the one improvement that needed made from the previous model. Samsung has left most of the bottom of the case open to accommodate a wide variety of chargers and headphones you may be plugging in, and there's ample cutout space on the back for the cameras and sensors. The raised edges make the fingerprint sensor particularly easy to use for unlocking, but if there's one downside here it's that the steeper angle makes it a bit tougher to use as a notification shade pull-down.
Yes, spending $50 on a case in a world where Amazon-beholden race-to-the-bottom accessory makers have great choices at $10 can seem nutty to some people. There are cheaper cases out there that offer good protection for your phone at a fraction of the price. But they don't also provide that wonderful feeling for your hand in the way that the Alcantara case does. And that makes it worth the money entirely, before you even get to the fact that it both looks great and offers solid protection for your spendy Galaxy S9. I'll be using one on my Galaxy S9+ as long as I have the phone.
Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.