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The best UAG cases: A buyer's guide to what UAG has to offer
The good old days of the invincible Nokia phone are no more. Now, smartphones are blazing fast with brilliant cameras, but they’re more fragile than ever. Glass builds and tiny bezels can let a single tumble spell doom for your precious device. However, a good case is usually all it takes to get some peace of mind, and some brands really know how to protect a phone. Urban Armor Gear, or UAG, is one such brand, and its cases are built like tanks. Here’s what you need to know about UAG cases.
Why choose UAG cases?
Urban Armor Gear has only been around since 2013, but it’s quickly built a name as one of the toughest case makers around. UAG’s models offer a perfect balance of protection, bulk, and thickness, though they’re not the cheapest. Most of its popular cases sport featherweight designs with MIL-STD 810G certification to stand up to repeated drops.
While it’s easy enough to pump out tough plastic cases that’ll never break down, UAG goes a step further and thinks about the planet. Its new Outback line is made of 100% biodegradable (and compostable) materials without sacrificing the signature toughness. Don’t worry — it won’t break down in your pocket, but the proprietary blend of bioplastics is far better for the environment than traditional cases.
However, UAG isn’t as large as some other case makers. That means fewer options. You’ll fare best if you have a flagship device, with most Android flagships and all iPhones supported. UAG averages between three and four cases for most main Android devices like the Galaxy S23, yet the iPhone 14 has nearly a dozen to choose from. That being said, UAG sometimes has midrange options for devices like the LG Stylo 6 and Moto G Power, as well as versions of its Civilian case for the Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 foldables.
We’ve mentioned it already, but UAG cases tend to fall on the expensive side. You’re probably looking at between $30 and $80 for most options, but the protection is well worth the money.
What kind of UAG case do I need?
UAG’s durable cases with thick bumpers and honeycomb reinforcement are its bread and butter. However, the case maker has expanded its range in recent times. Even its newest options keep an eye on protection, but it’s now a better choice than ever if you want a mix of style and security. You may want to consider a few key points when you decide which case you want:
- Thin vs rugged: No surprise, but rugged cases typically offer better protection than thin ones. Thin cases will feel better in your pocket, but they may not pack quite the same protective punch.
- Designs and colorways: Not all phones have the same case options, and not all case options come in the same colorways. You’ll find the most options on the Plasma and Monarch lines, and iPhone cases offer more color options than Android cases.
- Thickness and bulk: In a similar vein to the thin vs rugged debate, you must consider how much bulk you want to tote around. Most of UAG’s options manage to keep the weight off, though the thicker cases are bound to weigh a bit more.
- Level of protection: Truly, protection is one of the most important things to consider during case shopping. If you’re planning some grand adventures, you’ll want more protection. If you want basic coverage, you can save a bit of money and grab a less durable and probably slimmer alternative.
Best overall UAG case: Plasma
If you want a true UAG flagship case, the Plasma is your best bet. It’s one of the few models that seems to be available across the board, and it packs the best UAG has to offer. Thick TPU bumpers on the top and bottom offer superior protection if your phone takes a tumble. UAG also added a transparent three-layer polycarbonate back panel for protection against scrapes and scratches. Thick bezels protect the display and camera housing, and you can see the reinforced honeycomb pattern thanks to the clear finish.
While the Plasma line doesn’t come with a built-in screen protector, it does keep adventure in mind. The case is MIL-STD 810G certified, yet it’s thin enough to support wireless charging and payments. You probably won’t even need a belt holster, thanks to the relatively small footprint for a rugged case.
If you have your heart set on a UAG case, Plasma should have you covered. If you’re looking for an alternative, the slightly older Pathfinder series offers slightly less protection, but the aesthetic design is nearly identical.
Get the UAG Plasma for:
Best rugged UAG case: Monarch
The UAG Monarch cranks the protection up to 11. At first glance, the Monarch looks similar to the Plasma, but it’s made with five layers of material rather than three. It makes for a slightly denser case, and the transparent back panel is gone in favor of a matte black version. The textured finish should help you to keep a solid grip on your phone. The UAG Monarch is one of the most widely available options from the case maker.
Get the UAG Monarch for:
If you have a phone in the Galaxy S23 or iPhone 13/14 lineups, there’s also a Kevlar version of the Monarch that offers even greater protection. These cases run a bit more expensive than the standard Monarch cases, and to be honest, most of the changes are cosmetic. Still, they look pretty cool and offer the same excellent protection as the mainline series. Check them out below.
Get the UAG Monarch Kevlar Edition for:
Best clear UAG case: Plyo
Although some models of the Plasma feature a transparent back panel, the UAG Plyo is the only way to go if you want to show off your entire device. It’s completely clear, from the camera housing to the charging ports. However, it provides the same MIL-STD 810G protection you expect from UAG.
Air-soft cushioned corners also offer solid security against drops, but not quite as much as the two cases above. If you don’t need full transparency, the UAG Lucent is also a good option. It comes in a variety of translucent colors (as the name implies), and offers a more modern, sophisticated look with a microdot pattern on the back.
Get the UAG Plyo for:
Best affordable UAG case: Scout
So far, most of Urban Armor Gear’s cases have been on the flagship side, offering protection for devices like the Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13. However, the Scout line comes in with more affordable midrange phones in mind. It’s lighter and thinner, but the Scout line is also significantly cheaper than any other case offered by the company.
UAG opted for a basic TPU construction on the Scout, so it should be easy to apply and remove in seconds.
Get the UAG Scout for:
Best thin UAG case: Civilian
UAG likes to stick with a pseudo-military theme for its case names, at least until it gets to the Civilian. As the name implies, it’s the least rugged of any of UAG’s cases, making it thin and light for everyday use. Despite the thin profile, the Civilian case is still MIL-STD 810G certified, and it packs reliable honeycomb reinforcement throughout.
It’s also the only UAG case to pick if you have a folding phone like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Z Flip 3. The color options are nice too, and include a semi-transparent “Frosted Ice” option for the iPhone 13 lineup.
Get the UAG Civilian for:
Best eco-friendly UAG case: Outback
Environmentally-friendly cases are quickly gaining popularity, and UAG has joined the fray with its Outback cases. They’re 100% compostable and biodegradable, so you can minimize your impact on the environment. And even better, they still meet the MIL STD 810G 516.6 standard of durability, offering up to 12 feet of drop protection.
They’re not quite as rugged as some of UAG’s other offerings, but they do come a bit cheaper and easier on the conscience. Even the packaging uses soy-based inks and zero plastic. However, this case isn’t currently offered for the Galaxy S23 lineup, which could mean it’s been discontinued.
Get the UAG Outback for:
Other UAG cases
Apart from its mainline series, Urban Armor Guard offers a variety of niche cases, especially for Apple iPhones. These include the Essential Armor, Dot, Dip, and Wave series of cases, which are relatively standard cases with a more mainstream aesthetic. Many of these also offer options with MagSafe-ready magnets.
A personal favorite of ours is the Metropolis LT series, which is one of UAG’s most attractive cases. It comes in a variety of premium backing materials, including Kevlar, leather, and carbon fiber. The similarly named Metropolis series is a folio case with space for a few cards.
However, both of these are limited to Apple devices and some tablets. No Android support here, which is a shame.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can ship cases internationally from the UAG website. You can also find most options on Amazon with international shipping.
MIL-STD 810G is a US Military designation for technology. It certifies that the product has gone through a series of 29 tests against heat, shock, cold, and more. You can learn even more right here in our helpful guide.
Yellowing can happen over time with some clear cases, but luckily the issue is not permanent. Mix warm water and a drop or two of dish soap, and then scrub the mixture over your case with a toothbrush. Allow it to air dry for a few hours, and you should be good to go.