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Game

Staff Picks: Why Metroid Dread is Our Game of the Year

Picking the “game of the year” is never easy. While every Digital Trends writer who helped deliberate is a gamer, their tastes differ wildly. I came out strong as an advocate for medium-defining indie darlings. Others are RPG enthusiasts who felt Tales of Arise deserved the top spot. Depending on who was in the conversation, we could have shuffled the deck a dozen different ways and come out with any number of winners. There’s an alternate universe somewhere where Forza Horizon 5 is our game of the year, I’m sure.

So when we do find common ground on a game, it’s truly special. It means that something has transcended its genre enough to win over a panel of gamers with disparate tastes. It’s always hard to predict what game in a given year will pull off that task. And even then, I was still shocked when Metroid Dread topped our voting sheet.

Long live the queen

Metroid Dread is a long-awaited sequel to Game Boy Advance classic Metroid Fusion. It brings the Metroid series back to its 2D roots while trading the sprite art for modern visuals. For longtime fans of the series (myself included), it was a cathartic release. Announced as a genuine E3 2021 surprise, it was a sequel no one really expected. The Metroid series seemed like it was dead in the water with Metroid Prime 4 currently languishing in development hell. The last thing any fan expected was a return to 2D.

While it was always going to be a significant game for fans, it was harder to predict how the general public would embrace it. In truth, Metroid is more of a cult hit for Nintendo, and one that hasn’t been truly great for over a decade. It doesn’t make the same kind of money as Mario or even Animal Crossing — it’s more of a “gamer’s game.” Fans of the industry revere it and the impact it’s had on the industry, but Samus Aran likely wouldn’t be a household name if it weren’t for Super Smash Bros.

Metroid Dread would become a pivotal game. It felt like the fate of the entire series was resting on it. If it failed, like Metroid Other M and Federation Force before it, that could be a nail in the coffin. Developers would continue to draw inspiration from it in the form of indie Metroidvania titles, but Samus’ reign as queen would reach an unsatisfying end.

Thank God that didn’t happen.

Using the Omega Cannon in Metroid Dread.

An instant classic

Rising to meet expectations, Metroid Dread gave the Nintendo Switch another instant classic. An increased emphasis on fast movement proved to be exactly what the series needed, buffing up both its exploration and combat encounters. Mechanical additions like the melee counter widened Samus’ moveset, making her feel more like her Super Smash Bros. counterpart. Battles are legitimately challenging, but always fair. Modernized visuals brought more detail to the 2D world, adding depth to each corridor. Oh, and the E.M.M.I. scared the ever-loving crud out of players, too. It’s the kind of genuine crowd-pleaser that Nintendo excels at.

What makes Dread stand out most, though, is its story. The secret truth about Metroid is that it’s always told one of gaming’s best stories. It’s a space epic where Samus’ history and decisions matter. When she saves the baby Metroid at the end of Metroid 2, it’s not just a stand-alone moment. It plays a major role in the events of Super Metroid, which makes it one of gaming’s most impactful moments.

Metroid Dread carries that narrative strength over by bringing decades worth of plot threads together in a dark crescendo. It’s a game where Samus’ recklessness as a bounty hunter finally catches up to her. We finally get to see the long-term consequences of her decision to eradicate an entire species for money. That plays out in a series of shocking plot twists that reward anyone who’s kept up with Metroid lore over the years. The David Cronenberg-esque conclusion still lingers in my head months later.

Samus melee attacks an enemy in Metroid Dread.

History matters

If you had to boil Metroid Dread down to one thematic takeaway, it’s “history matters.” The snap decisions we make can carry consequences that snowball in unexpected ways. In video games, we’re not usually punished for our actions. Kill 1,000 people in Uncharted and it won’t matter much by the start of Uncharted 2. Metroid Dread rejects the “video game reset” by turning decades’ worth of reckless mercenary work into a nightmare for the usually cool, collected Samus.

Metroid Dread isn’t devoid of hope. It doesn’t leave Samus to die haunted by her ghosts. Redemption is still possible, and the ending leaves the door open for that. By the final moments of Dread, Samus has transformed (in more ways than one). She’s snapped out of an apathetic trance and seems to understand that her power is corruptible. Perhaps she’ll stop accepting missions from a shady Galactic Federation that hires her to do their dirty work and become an actual force for good.

What’s exciting is that we won’t have to wonder for long, hopefully. With Metroid Dread garnering praise from critics and Switch owners alike, it feels like Saums is about to start a new chapter. She’ll continue to evolve, just as Nintendo has with the uneven series itself. History matters, but its repercussions aren’t always negative. Sometimes we learn from the unflattering parts of our past and use it to build a better future. Metroid Dread is a moment of growth and reinvention for the series, coming out of a dark decade of failure with an earned moment of redemption.

Mission accomplished.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

The Best FPS Game Picks for Xbox Series X

Looking for your next first-person shooter title that’s ready for the Series X? This fast-paced genre sees some of the most benefits from frame-rate improvements and smoother, faster loading times, so Series X optimization is one of the best features to look for! We’re running down the top titles to try for your next shooting adventure or multiplayer obsession with the Xbox Series X — take a look!

Further reading

Call of Duty: Vanguard

The next CoD isn’t out quite yet, but it’s already looking like one of the best of this generation, with the latest tech to take advantage of everything the Series X can do. Taking place in WWII, Vanguard focuses on more unique locations like the Pacific Theater, Africa campaigns, and much more. If you want to stay at the forefront of shooters, Vanguard is the game to watch for. It’s fully released on November 5, 2021, and the open beta period has already passed, so you’ll have to wait a bit right now. The good news is that Vanguard supports both cross-progression and cross-platform play, so it should be no trouble finding a party.

Halo Infinite

Spartan on the battlefield.

A series of delays couldn’t keep Halo Infinite down, and now the game is set for a final release date of December 8, 2021. You can trust that Microsoft has made sure Halo Infinite is optimized for the Series X, so expect a smoother frame rate and better graphics than ever before, including support for 4K, HDR10, Dolby Atmos, and more. This Halo also supports a more open-world map concept that allows for a greater amount of exploration and more dynamic missions. When multiplayer finally arrives, you can bet it’s going to be worth the wait — there’s even console keyboard and mouse support include for this very purpose, so get ready to get competitive.

Call of Duty: Warzone

Hudson from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Oh, we aren’t done with CoD yet: If you really don’t want to wait for Vanguard and are looking for an excellent CoD experience to share with your friends, we highly recommend Warzone. It’s somewhere between popular battle royale games like Apex Legends and traditional CoD gameplay, with a combat arena that can hold up to 20 players. The support for 120 fps will work well with a high-quality TV and the Series X, too. Best of all, the game is free to download, so you don’t lose anything by trying it out.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War logo.

Did you love Black Ops? Then you absolutely need to play Cold War, which is a direct sequel to the first game and includes all the things players loved, including large 40-player PvP modes and zombie mode. It’s also a great pick for those who enjoy the CoD stories and look forward to spending some time with the campaign. On the other hand, if you haven’t played the first yet, it may be time to pick it up first.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

The heroes of Rainbow Six Siege pose for the camera.

Optimized for Series X and ready to go, Rainbow Six Siege is focused on 5v5 action with a long list of different “operators” to choose from, each with their own tools and loadouts depending on what you prefer to play. Find the abilities you like best, from traps and drones to infrared vision and more. It’s a great pick if you like the idea of multiplayers like Overwatch, but prefer games with more realistic shooting experiences. Rainbow Six Siege continues to be updated with new operators and events, although it does have a credits system you’ll need to use if you want to purchase lots of add-ons or cosmetics.

Splitgate

A soldier jumps out of a purple portal in Splitgate.

Splitgate is a unique, free-to-play FPS that’s a perfect choice if you really want to try something new and don’t know what to look for next. The multiplayer shooter is all about creating and using portals. The goal is to master portal use for all kinds of trick shots, evasive moves, perfect grenade throws, and much more. It generally rewards innovation and constantly improving skills, with both casual and competitive options for gameplay. The downside is that there’s no campaign to speak of, and no news if there will be any updates beyond the current 20 maps.

Doom Eternal

The Doom Slayer shoots demons in Doom Eternal.

It’s a very good thing that Doom Eternal is optimized for the Series X, because it’s a blast to play and even more fun with graphics and frame-rate improvements. The phrase “mindless fun” applies to a lot of Doom’s blast-away gameplay, but it’s not all mindless — you have to master the flow of killing and ripping apart enemies to harvest more health and energy: Don’t stop fighting if you want to survive. Mastering an increasing roster of weapons is also a challenge of its own. If you haven’t played before, note that between blasting demons, Eternal has a bit more platforming than many of the other picks on our list.

Destiny 2

A Destiny player slams down on their opponent.

Destiny 2 is optimized for Series X — and beyond the graphics boost that will make it more fun than ever to jump, soar, cast, shoot, and smash, the Series X also helps with the game’s loading times, which can get a little depressing on older, slower systems. There’s a ton to do in Destiny 2 if you haven’t played yet, so make sure you grab a buddy to help fill in the details and explain all the space magic, or make friends with others in the Tower. You’ll also want to prepare for the Witch Queen expansion when it arrives early next year!

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Epic Games Publishing picks up indie studios Eyes Out and Spry Fox

Epic Games Publishing is throwing its full weight behind two more indie studios, and really, they couldn’t be more different — which is precisely the point. Epic has signed Eyes Out, the brand-spanking-new studio founded by Spec Ops: The Line director Cory Davis and Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck, and also Spry Fox, a veteran, award-winning indie developer known for heartwarming games such as Cozy Grove, Alphabear and Road Not Taken

As a publisher, Epic offers to cover 100 percent of all development costs, and once a game comes out and breaks even in sales, the signed studio receives at least 50 percent of all profits. Epic doesn’t exert creative control over its partnered games, and the developers retain the intellectual property rights to their work. Epic signed Remedy Entertainment, Playdead and genDESIGN in March 2020, and today’s announcement marks the second batch of contracted studios.

“We’re open to publishing many types of games from the most talented developers, and the studios we’re partnering with are making some of the coolest, experimental and ambitious stuff out there,” head of Epic Games Publishing Hector Sanchez told Engadget. “They have our full support – including Epic’s publishing and promotional services, resources, and experience – which means they can focus solely on making the best games possible.”

Eyes Out is staffed with enormous creative energy, but it’s unproven as a team. Davis, Finck and their collaborators are working on their debut title, a mysterious arthouse horror game with an emphasis on experimental audio and cosmic terror. The studio’s teasers are filled with moody desert landscapes and unsettling layers of sound. In a chat with Engadget in September, Davis said he wants to “create mind-bending experiences that cause you to question reality.”

The publisher relationship goes even deeper for Eyes Out, too — the studio received an Epic MegaGrant in 2019, which gave them the runway to build their first proof-of-concept. Epic further funded the studio’s prototype, allowing them to expand their team in the process. And now, Eyes Out is officially part of Epic Games Publishing.

“From the very beginning, Robin and I knew that Eyes Out was going to require a unique publishing partner willing to empower our vision of the strange, ambitious worlds we would create together, and one capable of fueling it,” Davis said about today’s news. He continued, “Our collaboration with Epic continued to bear fruit. Working with Epic is really the first time I’ve felt entirely unleashed as a director, both technically and creatively. Together we’re aimed to create the thing that’s closest to my heart.”

Spry Fox, meanwhile, is working on its most ambitious project to date, which it describes as a “non-violent multiplayer game designed to encourage friendship and reduce loneliness in the world.” It’ll come to multiple platforms, and support cross-play and cross-progression. The first bit of concept art from Spry Fox’s new game depicts a pastel, Atlantis-esque world with a massive yellow whale floating across the sky.

“This is the first time in our history that we at Spry Fox have chosen to work with a publisher in this manner,” studio co-founder and CEO David Edery said. “Up until now, we have only worked with publishers for much more limited regional publishing and porting arrangements. But we felt for a project as ambitious as this one, we needed more support than usual, and Epic seemed like the right company to provide that support.”

Epic has positioned itself as the developer’s publisher, with a goal of having “the most developer-friendly terms in the industry,” emphasizing creative control and financial support for its studios. Outside of direct publishing deals, Epic also offers free access to Unreal Engine, a powerful game-development toolset, and it throws money at artists through programs like Epic MegaGrants, a $100 million fund for burgeoning creatives. The Epic Games Store went live in 2018 as a direct competitor to Steam, offering better financial terms for developers and challenging Valve to implement the same deal (spoiler: Valve didn’t). 

More recently, Epic waged a very public legal battle against Apple, arguing the iPhone-maker enjoyed monopolistic control over the App Store and offered unfair terms to developers. In the end, the lawsuit played out like any other fight between multibillion-dollar corporations, resulting in little change and lots of press.

Throughout the lawsuit, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney attacked Apple for engaging in greedy, anti-consumer and anti-developer practices. This is kind of his thing — since founding Epic more than 30 years ago, Sweeney has been consistent in his mantra that game development should be accessible to as many people as possible. Even his first game, ZZT, included an editor so everyone who played it could build their own levels.

“It was in those early days that Epic’s kind of core philosophy was set,” Sweeney told Engadget in 2019. “We both build games ourselves and we share all the results of our work with the world to build their own games. We’re the both a game developer and a service company that works with partners throughout the whole industry. Everything we’re doing now is this much larger version of that.”

Including, it seems, Epic Games Publishing.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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Categories
Computing

Best Keyboard Wrist Rest Picks for 2021

If you’re a gamer or someone who is always at the keyboard, then you might want to consider buying a wrist rest. Wrist rests ensure that you do not put too much strain on your hands or wrists as you type away for hours on end. According to some doctors, keyboard wrist rests might also help reduce carpal tunnel syndrome and other pain points in your fingers and hands.

Although some keyboards come with wrist rests already, if yours doesn’t, or you want to upgrade it, here are our top seven picks for the best keyboard wrist rest in 2021.

The best keyboard wrist rest at a glance

HyperX Wrist Rest

Why you should buy this: It’s the best wrist rest money can buy.

Who it’s for: Long-haul typists or gamers.

Why we picked the HyperX Wrist Rest: The HyperX Wrist Rest is one that is designed to fit in with your setup. A simple rectangle, this rest does not force you to take a specific position when typing and allows for a variety of different typing positions. It is also rather durable, as it’s made of a cool gel memory foam, ensuring that your hands will stay cool and fit softly onto the rest during long-haul typing sessions. That gel ensures firmness, as well as buoyancy.

If you’re a gamer, you might enjoy how clean this wrist rest looks. The top has a spandex-like fabric, and the branding is barely visible. It’s designed to slide right under your keyboard and blend in without being too overly distracting.

Leyouyou 520 Wrist Rest

Leyouyou 520 Wrist Rest.

Why you should buy this: You need a quality wrist rest that comes with a mouse rest.

Who it’s for: Wrist rest buyers who need something comfortable and affordable.

Why we picked the Leyouyou 520 Wrist Rest: If you need a wrist rest but don’t want to spend much more than $10, then this is for you. This rest keeps a lot of the same features from the others on our list, including foam padding and a superfine fabric, but it isn’t on the expensive side. Note that this rest also has a unique shape designed for your palms. Instead of being more rectangular, this one is rounded on the edges, allowing you to slide your wrists in just the right spots for prolonged periods of typing.

The stitching on this is flush with the body, ensuring that it’s super comfy and durable for long-term gaming sessions. As a bonus, it even comes with a mouse pad wrist rest, so you have a place to rest your other hand while scrolling with a mouse.

Razer Ergonomic Wrist Rest

The Razer Ergonimic Wrist Rest.

Why you should buy this: It matches Razer’s other accessories nicely.

Who it’s for: Gamers and anyone with matching Razer accessories.

Why we picked the Razer Ergonomic Wrist Rest: When your setup has a lot of Razer gaming gear, then you probably want a wrist rest to match it, and the Razer Ergonomic Wrist Rest is designed for gamers. Even more so, Razer promises that the rest can alleviate pressure on your wrists from prolonged periods of gaming at an elevated angle.

This product has an ergonomic inclined design to ensure that you can reduce fatigue as you move your fingers across the WASD keys when gaming. It also sports anti-slip rubber feet, so it won’t go moving around during intense gaming sessions. Razer even encloses the wrest in a solid-edge frame, which ensures more durability than stitched edges, and, thanks to the plush leatherette cushion material, the rest is waterproof.

Redragon Keyboard Wrist Rest

The Reddragon keyboard wrist rest.

Why you should buy this: It’s an adaptable, affordable wrist rest with a clean design.

Who it’s for: People who want a keyboard wrist rest that is adaptable to their needs.

Why we picked the Redragon Keyboard Wrist: The Reddragon Keyboard Wrist rest is one that’s perfect for most keyboards and laptops. It uses soft, medium-firm memory foam, which means that it can adapt to your wrist’s unique shape over time. This wrist rest is even certified to be washable, as it has a waterproof coating that won’t peel off when liquids touch it. That makes the rest perfect for home office setups or gamers who might have a messy desk.

The size of this wrist rest is just right. It can fit both full-size keyboards as well half-sized keyboards, so it’s not only for gamers with larger and more fancy mechanical keyboards. The rest’s wider edges also allow for extra hand movements and room for you to slide your mouse around. RedDragon even claims that this design choice can help the wrist rest stay in place and prevent curling.

Jedia Keyboard Wrist Rest

JEDIA Keyboard Wrist Rest.

Why you should buy this: Its holes help prevent perspiration buildup, and it comes with a comfortable mouse rest, too.

Who it’s for: Students, office workers.

Why we picked the Jedia Keyboard Wrist Rest: The Jedia Keyboard wrist rest is more catered for everyday use and usage outside of gaming. This rest has massage holes and two wave-shaped grooves on both sides. What this means is that if you’re a programmer or art designer, the feel of the rest should be more like a softer memory foam mattress and less like a harder, flat padded rest that’s often used by gamers.

Generally speaking, the Jedia Keyboard Wrist Rest is a bit less traditional than other wrist rests and fits better due to that look. The base of the rest is also made of rubber, which helps it stay firm on a desk. That’s unlike other products that have a resin base that could cause it to slide around. Jedia even includes a matching mouse rest, so you’re getting two products for the price of one.

Asus ROG Gaming Wrist Rest

Asus ROG Gaming Wrist Rest.

Why you should buy this: If you’re a gamer and you need a quality wrist rest, this one looks the part.

Who it’s for: Gamers.

Why we picked the Asus ROG Gaming Wrist Rest: This Asus rest is designed for gamers. The rest has a matte black minimalist look with a soft foam cushion core that provides superior comfort and support. There’s even some Asus ROG branding on the sides if you like to match your setup.

It also has a leatherette surface that can offer a soft, smooth feel with splash resistance for easy cleaning and maintenance. As for becoming worn at the edges, this rest has stitched edges with concealed seams so it won’t tear. Asus even adds in non-slip rubber feet, so the rest doesn’t glide across your desk if you jam your keyboard too hard. Note that the feet also allow the rest to elevate a bit. This keeps your hands at an ergonomic input position to alleviate wrist fatigue during long sessions.

Klim Keyboard Wrist Rest

KLIM Keyboard rest showing memory cotton.

Why you should buy this: You need a comfortable and durable keyboard wrist rest.

Who it’s for: Anyone wanting ultimate wrist comfort.

Why we picked the Klim Keyboard Wrist Rest: The Klim Keyboard Wrist Rest is one that is more of an all-rounder. It has the right amount of height and cushion for gamers as well as folks who are just casual typists. Designed with memory foam, a natural rubber base, and anti-slip fabric, it’s supportive without being too hard on the hands. This is so that your wrists won’t slide away when the rest is in use.

Klim’s wrist rest is also backed by a life after sales service. This means that your rest can be replaced if you ever have any issues with it. Considering the wear and tear that wrist rests are known to go through, that’s a huge bonus.

Editors’ Choice




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AI

Call center automation platform Talkdesk picks up $230M

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Talkdesk, which provides an enterprise contact center platform, today announced that it raised $230 million at a post-money valuation of $10 billion. The round, which came from Whale Rock Capital Management, TI Platform Management, Alpha Square Group, Amity Ventures, Franklin Templeton, Top Tier Capital Partners, Viking Global Investors, and Willoughby Capital, brings the company’s total raised to $498 million to date.

Over the past several years, businesses have increasingly turned to cloud-based contact centers to address budding customer service challenges. The pandemic accelerated that move — service conveniences were put in place out of necessity, which gave customers more options for interacting with companies. For example, 78% of contact centers in the U.S. now intend to deploy AI in the next 3 years, according to Canam Research. And research from The Harris Poll indicates that 46% of customer interactions are already automated, with the number expected to reach 59% by 2023.

Talkdesk’s contact center solution — which competes with offerings from Amazon, Google, Cisco, Aircall, Uject, and others, including Five9 (recently acquired by Zoom) — provides a way for businesses and customers to engage with one another through service channels. With Talkdesk, companies can manage and route customer requests through text, email, and social media, with services including virtual agents and analytics in addition to tools for customization across workspaces, routing, reporting, and integrations.

Talkdesk

“During the last two years, Talkdesk has introduced more than 30 new product innovations. We’re on a quest to revolutionize the contact center market and automate 80% of customer interactions [by 2023]. We’re also lowering the barrier for AI adoption in the contact center. We currently have 1,000 engineers … working on solutions and 50% of our investment goes into R&D,” CEO Tiago Paiva told VentureBeat via email. “The new funding will … further support expanding [our] presence internationally, leading with industry-first customer experience product innovations [and] white-glove customer service.”

Injecting AI

Automation is a core focus for San Francisco, California-based Talkdesk, which was founded in Portugal in 2011 by Paiva and Cristina Fonseca, a cofounder of ecommerce startup Bouncely. The company offers AI Trainer, a human-in-the-loop AI model training solution that helps companies to implement, maintain, and customize systems for automation. Talkdesk also provides industry-specific products like Digital Lending and Vacation Now, which employ AI to streamline the lending lifecycle for personal, mortgage, and commercial loans and help companies ready contact centers to support anticipated surges in demand.

Paiva points to a survey of customer experience professionals that Talkdesk conducted in early 2021, which found that an overwhelming majority — 89% — believe in the importance of leveraging AI in the contact center. Another 82% said that AI is increasingly necessary for business success.  But only 14% considered their employers to be “transformational” with AI.

“[Talkdesk] enables customization, personalization, and extensibility [by unifying] all customer experience applications and data on a single screen and [allowing] enterprises to create interface[s] for every role in the contact center,” Paiva said. “Business continuity was naturally a primary driver in the early weeks of the pandemic. Today, many businesses see cloud contact centers as integral to meeting customer expectations, not just maintaining operations.”

According to Paiva, over the last two years, Talkdesk gained “significant” momentum as it expanded its ecosystem of resellers and cloud distributors and entered markets including Australia, Brazil, Canada, and France. Talkdesk currently has over 1,800 customers — Petco, Lemonade, and Sysco among them — and plans to increase the size of its workforce from 1,800 to around 2,200 by 2022.

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Game

Shiny Pokemon GO Solstice monster tasks: All the best picks

Today we’re taking a peek at the big Solstice-themed event in Pokemon GO with special attention on Shiny Pokemon. There’s a new set of event-exclusive Field Research tasks for this event, along with a variety of potentially Shiny Pokemon like Snorunt, Yanma, Solrock, and Lunatone!

The Pokemon GO Solstice event started on June 17, 2021. It’ll run through June 20, 2021, ending specifically at 8PM local time. This event includes a variety of Field Research Tassks that are exclusive to this event, starting with the capture of 5 Lunatone, and 5 Solrock.

You’ll get one Silver Pinap Berry for catching a set of 15 Lunatone, and another Silver Pinap Berry for catching 15 more Solrock. Basically you’re going to want to catch 20 of each during this event. You can stack your Field Research, so you’ll also get rewards for Catching 10 Pokemon, giving you encounters with Snorunt or Yanma, both of which could be Shiny.

You’ll also want to Win a Raid in under 60 seconds if possible – that’ll give you another Silver Pinap Berry. Using 3 Golden Razz Berried to help catch Pokemon will give you a BUNCH of Pokemon Candy – the same is true of Spinning 7 Pokestops or Gyms, and winning a level 3 or higher raid battle.

This event has Lunatone and Solrock spawning around the world, both with the potential to be Shiny! There’s also a Shiny Snorlax out there, and some non-shiny Spheal.

Be sure to walk with your Buddy Pokemon during this event as they will give you more gift items and Pokeballs than normal. This event’s walking distance for Buddy earning of hearts is half that of the normal distance required.

During this event you’ll want to take a few Pokemon snapshots for potential encounter of Solstice Pokemon. This is one of the only times when you’ll be able to find both Lunatone and Solrock anywhere around the world. After the event ends, Lunatone will be in one hemisphere, and Solrock will be in the other – until it’s time to switch again!

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Tech News

AI picks the most valuable footballers in Europe’s top 5 leagues

An algorithm has estimated that Manchester City starlet Phil Foden is the most valuable player in Europe’s “big five” football leagues.

The CIES Football Observatory’s model predicted that the 21-year-old is worth a whopping  €190.2M ($231.9M) in the transfer market.

Foden’s England teammates Mason Greenwood (€178M) and Marcus Rashford (€159M) complete the podium, while Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland (€155.5M) takes fourth place in the biannual list.

England fans may greet the rankings as an encouraging omen for the impending European Championship, but their hopes would be somewhat misplaced.

[Read: Why entrepreneurship in emerging markets matters]

As well as estimating a player’s performance, career progression, and age, CIES says its algorithm measures variables including contract length and the level of the league in which they play.

That might explain why Paris Saint Germain phenom Kylian Mbappe hasn’t made the top 10. At just 22-years-old, the striker is already one of the sport’s top players, but his current contract expires next summer, which significantly diminishes his transfer value.

Algorithmic player valuations are also far from an exact science, although the CIES list looks pretty plausible to this fan’s eyes. But its true accuracy should only be judged after the big five’s transfer windows open this summer.

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Computing

Best work laptops: Our picks for a home office

The best laptops for working from home don’t have to be expensive. Models costing as little as $500 offer the features you need to work efficiently and stay connected with coworkers. That said, if you have the budget, some higher-end laptops could provide better experiences and be smarter long-term purchases. We’ll make some specific product recommendations for great work-at-home laptops, and also walk you through the features you need so you can shop anywhere and find the best deal for you. 

Note: Because of the mass shift to working from home to combat coronavirus, laptops are flying off online shopping sites and local store shelves. We’ll do our best to recommend products that are in stock, but pay close attention to ship dates (which are becoming a moving target), and be prepared to keep looking if your first choice is no longer available. 

What you need on any laptop to work from home

You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot on a laptop to work effectively from home, but you do need to make sure your machine has certain features to keep you productive and connected.

We’re even including a Chromebook among our top picks (above), because Google’s Pixelbook Go (starting at $649 from Google) is the best balance of features and affordability that we’ve seen so far. Unless you have a stubbornly Windows-only application you have to use, you can do everything else on this capable, midpriced Chromebook. 

Here are the specs to look for while shopping: 

CPU: An 8th-gen or younger Intel Core i5 ‘U’ 

AMD and Intel are both coming out with new mobile CPUs this year, but mainstream users won’t need the latest Ryzen 4000 or Comet Lake H chips. For everyday work, an Intel 8th-generation or 10th-generation Core i5 ‘U’-class CPU offers the best balance of performance and power efficiency. Lower-end Core i3 ‘U’ siblings might be too slow, and higher-end Core i7 ‘U’ chips would be nice to have, but aren’t necessary.

You should start to see better deals on laptops with 8th-gen CPUs, because they’re older—but still very worthy!

Specific 8th-gen CPUs to look for: Core i5-8250U, Core i5-8265U

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Tech News

Best Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+ cases: Top picks in every style

Aside from its great screen, ultra-fast processor, and awesome camera, the Samsung Galaxy S10 its also big, slippery, and fragile, and the last thing you want is a giant crack in it.  Here are our favorite cases for the S10 so far.

Update 4/23/19: Added new categories for best shell cases and new rugged and wallet cases.

Beat clear cases for Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e

Along with super slim bezels and a gorgeous display, the Galaxy S10 has one more thing going for it: beautiful new colors to choose from. Available in new “prism” finishes that change color depending on the light, a flamingo pink that’s too cool for school, and two luscious ceramic options, it’s a shame to cover up your Galaxy S10 with a case. So here are some great ones that will still its natural color shine through:

X-Doria Defense Shield

X-Doria Defense Shield

Why we love it: The X-Doria Defense shield looks and feels more expensive than its $30 price tag: An aluminum band around the back of the case helps it meet MIL-STD-810G specifications, so it should survive drops of up to 10-feet. The cutout around the headphone jack and the USB-C port are also spacious, with raised ridges on the case to make buttons easy to find. And we just love how the iridescent border looks against the S10’s prism colors.
Price: $30
Wireless charging: Yes

Editor’s choice: The X-Doria Defense Shield is our current pick for best clear Galaxy S10 case.

Totallee Thin

Totallee Thin

Why we love it: With such a beautiful array of colors and a gorgeous design, we want to show off as much of our S10 as possible. And that’s just what the Totallee Thin case does. Super thin, ultra flexible, and clear as can be, Totallee’s glossy case won’t protect your phone from a major fall, but it will keep it free from scratches, give it some extra grip, and let the original color shine through.
Price: $29
Wireless charging: Yes

Speck Presidio V-Grip

speck v grip s10

Why we love it: Speck is a mainstay when it comes to Galaxy cases, and the Presidio Grip is consistently one of our favorites. The V-Grip line takes the hard plastic bumper of the Grip model and adds a clear window so you can see your S10’s natural color. The black border compliments any color you choose, but it looks particularly great with one of the lighter prism options, especially white.
Price: $40 (S10) / $45 (S10+)
Wireless charging: Yes

Gear4 Crystal Palace

gear4 crystal palace s10

Why we love it: Most clear cases offer minimal protection again falls, but the Gear 4 Crystal Palace is more of a tough slip case that you can see through. There are no designs, no accents, and no textures—just strong, clear plastic built to protect your S10 without hiding a single millimeter of its design.
Price: $40
Wireless charging: Yes

Bodyguardz Ace Pro

bodyguardz ace pro s10

Why we love it: The Bodyguardz Ace Pro case won’t turn any heads on its own, but it will keep your S10 looking its best. The crystal clear version has a subtle white bumper that helps your S10’s rear color pop even more, and Bodyguardz says it uses a special gel that absorbs and dissipates impact so your S10 will stay safe. But even if you never need to test that theory, this case is a great way to keep your S10 as fresh as when first taken out of the box.
Price: $35
Wireless charging: Yes

Gear4 Battersea

gear4 battersea s10

Why we love it: This particular clear case that adds texture and style to the S10. Though it doesn’t show off the S10’s color as well as other cases on this list, it has a vibe that’s unique: for example, the back of the Gear4 Battersea has a pattern that encircles the Gear4 logo like a ripple in a pond. Our only quibble is a “Protected by D30” logo stamped to the right of the camera array, but it’s small and subtle enough where we don’t mind too much.
Price: $50
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Ultra Hybrid

Spigen Ultra Hybrid

Why we love it: The Spigen Ultra Hybrid case combines the feel of a soft shell case with that of a more rigid, protective case. The bumper is soft and flexible, while the back of the case is rigid and feels like it can take a beating or three. It’s not often that a clear case comes with a protective coating, but this particular case has a removable film on the inside and outside of the case to ensure it arrives free of any scratches. And once it’s applied, it won’t add much bulk to your S10 at all.
Price: $30
Wireless charging: Yes

Speck Presidio Stay Clear

speck presidio stay clear s10

Why we love it: Speck’s cases always impress, even when it’s one as simple as the Presidio Stay Clear. The entire case is stiff and feels high-quality, and Speck claims it can protect the Galaxy S10 in a drop from eight-feet high, thanks to its two layer constructions. The buttons are a bit hard to press when you first put it on, but they already started to loosen after a short period of use. The only drawback to the Stay Clear case is that it’s just as slippery as the S10 itself—though at least you’ll have peace of mind if you happen to drop it.
Price: $45
Wireless charging: Yes

OtterBox Pursuit

otterbox pursuit s10

Why we love it: Otterbox makes some of the toughest cases money can buy, but they’re also some of the bulkiest. The Pursuit Series takes the company’s tried and true rugged design and slims it down just enough so it can fit comfortably in your pocket. The headphone and charging ports are sealed with port covers, ensuring that dust and debris can’t get inside, while the buttons are firm, easy to find, and have plenty of give when pressed. And the black bumper looks pretty sharp against the Prism White color.
Price: $70
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Liquid Crystal

Spigen Liquid Crystal

Why we love it: If you want a clear, minimal shell that lets you show off your shiny Galaxy S10 while providing some protection, then Spigen’s Liquid Crystal case fits the bill. It’s soft and flexible, making it easy to take on and off, and a bundled cleaning wipe helps keep it free from dirt and fingerprints. This particular case is extremely plain, allowing your S10’s design to shine through, but if you want something a little more flashy, there’s also a glitter version of this same case.
Price: $20
Wireless charging: Yes

Best shell cases for Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e

If you’re looking for a more traditional way to protect your S10, there are plenty of good, old-fashioned shell cases to choose from.

Pelican Protector

Pelican Protector

Why we love it: The Pelican Protector isn’t a head-turner, but it’s a solid choice. The shell case snaps on with ease and has a sturdy feel to it. On the back of the case is a square design that serves as an indicator of where to attach the optional AMS mount. You simply slide the mount over the blades of an air vent on your car, and then your phone attaches to the mount. But even if you just want the case, it doesn’t look like anything’s missing, and whatever Pelican uses for the phone to attach to the mount doesn’t interfere with wirelessly charging the S10 Plus.
Price: $40
Colors: Black/gray
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Neo Hybrid

Spigen Neo Hybrid

Why we love it: The Neo Hybrid case uses two different materials for a hybrid design. You can take apart the two pieces—a plastic shell and the rubber insides—to mix and match with different colors of the Neo Hybrid case. The buttons are a bit stiff for my liking, but I imagine that over extended use they’ll loosen up a bit and work without issue. The back of the case has a ribbed feel to it, helping with grip and keeping it in place when you set it on a slick table or desk.
Price: $35
Colors: Black, maroon, silver
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Silicone Fit

Spigen Silicone Fit

Why we love it: The Spine Silicone Fit case is pretty close to being the perfect minimal case. It has a smooth yet grippy finish that covers the entire back of the phone and hugs the camera cutout tightly. A soft inside lining protects your S10 from scratches, and the case feels great to hold, with on exception: The bottom of the case (where the holes for the charging port and headphone jack are located) is a little loose, and we could see how the holes might get snagged on something and tear. But otherwise, the Spigen Silicone Fit is a great option for a thin, minimal S10 case.
Price: $30
Colors: Black
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Liquid Air

Spigen Liquid Air

Why we love it: There are three things we love about Spigen’s cases: They’re simple, sturdy, and inexpensive. And they look good even in solid black. The Liquid Air has a cool “geo pattern” on the back, which adds a nice texture and a bit of grip to the case. The sides and bottom of the case are a bit weaker than some of Spigen’s other offerings, but all in all, this case is a simple, sturdy, and inexpensive, and should keep your S10 safe.
Price: $20
Colors: Black
Wireless charging: Yes

Best rugged cases for Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e

When you want to ensure your Galaxy S10 will survive a major fall, only a rough, tough, and rugged case will do.

Otterbox Defender

Otterbox Defender

Why we love it: Installing your S10 in a Defender case is a commitment, requiring a few minutes to remove the outer shell, take apart the two inner pieces, and snap everything back together. But it’s so worth it. Even with its slimmer profile, the iconic Defender series still feels like a case that will withstand multiple drops and maybe even the occasional toss. You’ll also get the traditional belt holster in the box if you’re into that sort of thing.
Price: $60
Colors: Black, purple, blue
Wireless charging: Yes

Otterbox Commuter

Otterbox Commuter

Why we love it: If you can’t decide between a silicone case or a plastic one, the Commuter’s two-layer approach might be right up your alley. The first layer is rubber and feels more like a silicone case, while the second layer adds some toughness with a polycarbonate shell. The two layers look great together, with small cutouts that let the bottom layer peek through, and do a thorough job of protecting your phone—headphone jack and charging port even get their own protective flaps.
Price: $40
Colors: Black, pink, blue
Wireless charging: Yes

UAG Monarch Case

UAG Monarch Case

Why we love it: UAG cases always have a distinct look and feel with rugged protection, and the Monarch case for the S10 follows that tradition. The metal structure-like design on the back combines the five different layers that make up the Monarch case, ranging from leather to metal. Overall, it’s a solid case, but two small foibles do keep it from being perfect: The buttons on this case feel fine though a little thin, and unfortunately your S10’s Wireless PowerShare won’t work once you strap it on (though wireless charging does).
Price: $60
Colors: Black, crimson, carbon fiber
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen Rugged Armor

Why we love it: We’ve tried a lot of shell cases over the years, and the Spigen Rugged Armor is one of the best-fitting ones we’ve tested. With a flexible TPU exterior, the case perfectly squeezes onto the S10, with no wiggle room on the sides. On the back there’s a matte black finish, with two classy carbon fiber sections near the top and bottom of the phone. It’s a subtle look, and I like it. The shell itself is soft and grippy, with clicky buttons and wide holes for the ports.
Price: $25
Colors: Black
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Tough Armor

Spigen Tough Armor

Why we love it: The Spigen Tough Armor is one of the largest and most protective cases that Spigen offers. The extra thickness adds more protection for drops and adds a handy kickstand feature that folds out from the back so you can prop your phone up in landscape orientation. It can be a little difficult to get it to stay in place, so be sure to read the instructions inside the box. Nonetheless, it’s still a cool feature on an all-around solid case.
Price: $40
Colors: Black, gray, blue, pink
Wireless charging: Yes

Best wallet cases for Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e

The S10 takes up a lot of room in a pocket, so these cases let you leave your wallet at home.

Otterbox Strada Series Leather Folio

Otterbox Strada Series Leather Folio

Why we love it: The Strada Series Folio is one of the slickest cases we’ve tested. With black or brown leather that wraps around the phone and a smooth finish to the polycarbonate shell, this case has a premium look and feel. Inside there’s a pocket for a card or cash. (For reference, we managed to get two cards in the case without issue, but a third wouldn’t fit.) A particularly nice touch is a strong magnet that holds the front flap closed for extra protection or attacks to the back of the case when it’s open.
Price: $70
Colors: Black, brown
Wireless charging: Yes

Spigen Slim Armor CS

Spigen Slim Armor CS

Why we love it: Spigen’s cases are popular for two reasons—they’re well-designed and affordably priced. With the Slim Armor CS, the company takes a minimal approach but adds a pocket on the back of the case to hold up to three credit cards. (Though we’d only recommend two cards, as a third tends to make things a little tight.) It looks good, too. The smooth exterior gives the Slim Armor CS somewhat of a slippery feel, but the rubberized sides make it easy to grip.
Price: $40
Colors: Black, gunmetal, rose gold
Wireless charging: Yes (though Spigen recommends removing the cards first)

SnakeHive Leather Wallet

SnakeHive Leather Wallet

Why we love it: If you don’t need full rugged protection for your S10 and want a case that can hold a few cards, the SnakeHive Wallet is a luxurious option with particularly good looks. Though the case offers fairly limited protection again falls, it wraps your S10 is luxurious suede, complete with visible stitches and a stamped logo on the inside flap. A magnet keeps the cover in place when closed, and the case doubles as a stand for watching movies. And three card slots open the inside will let you keep your wallet at home on fancy nights out.
Price: $40
Colors: Blue, green, brown, yellow, red, black
Wireless charging: Yes

Silk Wallet Slayer Vol. 1

Silk Wallet Slayer Vol. 1

Why we love it: Silk’s cases don’t break the mold, but they’re well designed and affordable, which is what your really want. The Wallet Slayer retails for $15, less than most shell cases, and it includes a slot for three cards plus a little extra cash on the back. Wireless charging works with three cards inside, but we fear that dust and debris might eventually make its way between the case and the phone due to its somewhat flimsy wraparound lip. But all in all, we love this case for the price—especially in the “Flavor of the Month” lime-and-leaf pattern.
Price: $15
Colors: Black, patterns
Wireless charging: Yes

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Tech News

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 cases: Top picks in every style

If you’ve decided to spend $1,000 or more on a Galaxy Note 9, one thing is certain: You’re going to need a case. With a 6.4-inch display and an all-glass design, the Note 9 is basically an accident waiting to happen. Use our list of the best cases to find the right one for you and keep your phone in pristine condition.

Update 12/23/19: Added the Speck Presidio Grip, Incipio NGP, and ArmadilloTek Vanguard cases.

Best transparent Galaxy Note 9 cases

The Galaxy Note 9 comes in two colors—lilac purple and ocean blue—that are gorgeous enough to show off. That’s why a sturdy clear case is the Note 9’s best friend.

ESR Glass Back

ESR Glass Back

Price: $26
Colors: Black, clear, white
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: ESR’s Glass Back Case is made of three parts: the frame, base, and a piece of tempered glass. When assembled, the Glass Back case provides a rigid back plate with a soft bumper, both of which should be sturdy enough to protect your phone from an occasional drop.

ESR touts the back glass as being scratch-proof, and in our own testing, which consisted of running a pocketknife blade over the back, it impressively lived up to its claims. However, since it’s made of glass, it’s still a little slippery—but not nearly as much as a naked Note 9.

The ESR Glass Back is our current pick for best transparent Galaxy Note 9 case.

Presidio Stay Clear

Presidio Stay Clear

Price: $45
Colors: Clear
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Simple is as simple does. The Speck Presidio Stay Clear has no patterns, no colorful bumpers, and no ridged markings of any kind. It’s just a protective case designed to show off the look of your Note 9. The reinforced corners and inflexible sides will add a bit of extra bulk to your Note 9, but if you want all-over protection without changing the look of your Note 9, this is the way to go.

ESR Soft TPU

ESR Soft TPU

Price: $11
Colors: Black, clear
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Unlike the company’s Glass Back case, the Soft case is made of flexible TPU from top to bottom. It still lets the Note 9’s design shine, though, while adding a little extra class with a subtle pattern on the inside of the case.

The Soft Case’s cutouts for things like the S Pen or charging port allow for easy access, and the button covers stick out just far enough to make it easy to press. Because the case is made of such soft and flexible material, it’s natural to think it’s flimsy and cheap. It’s not. Rather, it’s an inexpensive case that should do well to protect your phone against short drops.

LifeProof Next

lifeproof next note 9

Price: $80
Colors: Clear
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: LifeProof’s mission statement is right in its namethe Next case will protect your phone against virtually anything, be it drops, dirt, dust, or snow. The two-layer design requires a special key to unlock, so once it’s on, you won’t experience any accidental slippage when it’s in your pocket. The black or pink bumpers around add a nice touch to the otherwise clear case, and the ultra clicky buttons mean you won’t accidentally summon Bixby when the phone’s in your bag.

Spigen Liquid Crystal

Spigen Liquid Crystal

Price: $20
Colors: Clear
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The Spigen Liquid Crystal is a slim, clear case that covers the basics. It offers a reasonable grip on the sides of the phone, the buttons provide a reassuring click when pressed, and the S Pen is easy to remove. Spigen also includes a lens wipe inside the case to clean it if it gets discolored. (We didn’t have any issues in our short time with it, but it’s something to keep in mind if this case is calling your name.)

Case-Mate Sheer Crystal

Case-Mate Sheer Crystal

Price: $35
Colors: Clear
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Case-Mate’s Sheer Crystal case has a similar look to its gorgeous Waterfall case, but it ditches the glitter and liquid inside it for a cleaner, more uniform appearance. The clear housing has pieces of embedded “twinkling glass crystal” that give your Note an elegant appearance. As with the rest of Case-Mate’s decorated cases, the Sheer Crystal case will protect your device from a 10-foot drop. Like other Case-Mate cases, the buttons have a metallic covering that gives them a premium feel, though we had some issues with the Bixby button being triggered more often than usual, but Samsung is reportedly working on an option to turn it off in a future Note update.

Best shell Galaxy Note 9 cases

Simple, sturdy, and stylish, our favorite shell cases will protect your Note 9 and accentuate its good looks.

Speck Presidio Pro

speck presidio pro note 9 case

Price: $45
Colors: Black, red
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: A new addition to the stalwart Speck line, the Presidio Pro case possesses the sleek elegance of the company’s other cases. With an untextured, lightly grippy back and reinforced corners, this case is slim and feels almost like leather in your hand. Speck says it also has “anti-microbial protection,” but we’re recommending it for how good it looks and how smooth it feels.

The Speck Presidio Pro is our current pick for best shell Galaxy Note 9 case.

Spigen Neo Hybrid

Spigen Neo Hybrid

Price: $35
Colors: Gunmetal, black, burgundy, silver, blue
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The Spigen NEO Hybrid mixes things up with a two-tone look: A metal-like strip provides a contrasting color to the plastic housing. It’s not a traditional bumper, but it sure looks and acts like one.

The back of the case is texturized, giving you something to grip onto when holding it. But our favorite feature is the removable bumper, so you can switch up the look of the case with ease.

ESR Kikko

ESR Kikko

Price: $12
Colors: Black
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The ESR Kikko case for the Galaxy Note 9 may be all black, but it’s far from boring. A classy geometric pattern on the back adds polish to its design—and provides a nice grip when holding your phone, too.

The case is easy to put on and take off, and a lip extends around its entire perimeter. The latter feature may allow dust to creep in, however, so periodically taking the Kikko case off and wipe down your phone could become necessary.

Spigen Liquid Air

Spigen Liquid Air

Price: $20
Colors: Black
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: For an understated look, Spigen uses its signature all-over triangle pattern on the back of the Liquid Air to break up the all-black exterior. The case itself is flexible, slim, and grippy without adding any extra bulk. In fact, the case is so thin that it’s extremely easy to remove, so you’ll be able to clean it when debris inevitably gets between it and your Note 9. Yet despite its slender profile, the Liquid Air boasts some of the best buttons on a Note 9 case.

Samsung Silicone Cover

samsung silicone cover note 9

Price: $40
Colors: Black, blue, white, purple
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Sometimes the best cases are the simplest. Smooth to the touch yet not at all slippery, the Samsung SIlicone Cover provides decent protection for your phone without adding too much bulk and gives it an elegant, luxurious feel. It won’t turn any heads or win any awards, but it’s an attractive, dependable case that will keep your Note safe from bumps and bruises.

Poetic Karbon Shield

Poetic Karbon Shield

Price: $10
Colors: Black
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Poetic’s Karbon Shield case isn’t fancy, but it has three important things we look for: good looks, strong protection, and low cost. The phone snaps in with ease, all ports line up, and the buttons feels solid. There’s also a carbon-fiber design on the back of the case that adds texture and grip. For $10, you’ll have a hard time finding a cheaper case that looks this attractive.

Tech 21 Evo Check

Tech 21 Evo Check

Price: $45
Colors: Orchid, smokey black, ultra violet
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Tech21’s Evo Check case isn’t anything fancy, but its design checks all the boxes. It has a soft rubber feel to it, is easy to grip, and comes with an interesting pattern on its backside. The perimeter of the case also tightly hugs the sides of the Note 9 for a secure fit and the prevention of dust and debris sneaking in. This shell should be good enough to protect against a bout of butterfingers.

MNML Case

MNML Case

Price: $15
Colors: Black, white
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: MNML, pronounced minimal, has made a name for itself in providing scratch-and-dent protection with the thinnest case possible. Its Note 9 case is no different: The MNML Case won’t add any bulk to your phone while protecting the back from wear and tear and the occasional drop. Of course you’re not going to get the same level of protection from more robust cases, but if you’re the kind of person who wants to use a case but also hates using a case, the MNML Case may be the perfect one for you.

Urban Armor Gear Plyo Series

Urban Armor Gear Plyo Series

Price: $40
Colors: Clear, red
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: If you’re looking for a case that offers solid protection without excessive bulk, UAG’s Plyo line is for you. The Plyo cases are a cross between a protective rugged case and a slim shell case that focuses on protecting the most likely places for damage: your phone’s corners. The crimson red color might be a bit overwhelming for some (and it doesn’t really match the Note 9’s colors), but the clear case really lets your Note 9’s design shine through.

Incipio NGP

Incipio NGP

Price: $20
Colors: Clear, red, black
Why we love it: The NGP case from Incipio is a classic that you can buy for any phone. And what we love about it on the others applies here too. It’s got a two-tone soft shell case that deftly blends two similar shades to break up the overall look. For example, the clear case we tested has a frosted piece at the bottom that completely changes the phone’s color. Granted, the NGP case is more about protection from bumps than major drops, but if you’re looking for a minimal case that doesn’t add much weight to your phone, it’s a great option—especially at its recently reduced rate of just $4.

 

Speck Presidio Grip

Speck Presidio Grip

Price: $45
Colors: Black, graphite, blue, grey, black
Why we love it: The Presidio Grip case from Speck is one of our all-time favorites for any phone, and the Note 9 version is no exception. Its hard outer shell provides ample protection, while the soft rubber ridges add its namesake grip, along with buttons that offer firm resistance when pressed. (As a plus, it’s super easy to snap the Note 9 in and out of it too.) And it’s tougher than it looks, with no reason to doubt Speck’s claims that it can withstand a 10-foot drop.

Best rugged Galaxy Note 9 cases

If you want the ultimate protection for your Note 9, you’ll need a heftier case than a simple shell. It adds some bulk, but the increase in size will justify itself when your phone survives that first nasty fall without a scratch.

Otterbox Defender

otterbox defender galaxy note 9

Price: $60
Colors: Black, purple, blue
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Otterbox is the biggest name in rugged, all-over protection, and the Defender is the cream of the crop. With three-layer design that leaves no room for dust, cracks, or drops, this case lives up to its name. It’s not sleek or light—and it’ll completely hide the color and design of your Note 9—but there’s simply no better way to insure that your phone won’t break, no matter how nasty the fall.

The OtterBox Defender is our current pick for best rugged Note 9 case.

Urban Armor Gear Monarch Series

Urban Armor Gear Monarch Series

Price: $60
Colors: Black, red
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The Monarch Series from UAG are the brand’s top-of-the-line cases for protection and aesthetics. The cases blend leather, silicon, and metal in sleek designs that draw your eye, while a total of 5 layers protect your device from nasty spills. The added layers of protection don’t get in the way of ports or buttons, the latter of which feel fantastic. The Monarch Series case even comes with a 10-year warranty—though admittedly, most people won’t be using the same phone until 2028. 

Incipio DualPro

Incipio DualPro

Price: $30
Colors: Black, gray, red, rose gold, blue
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: As its name suggests, the DualPro uses two different layers of material for protection: a soft shell on the inside, and a hard plastic shell on the outside. The perimeter of the case alternates between the hard and soft shell, with the top, bottom, and buttons covered in the latter material.

Speaking of the buttons, the Dual Pro’s have a satisfying click that you don’t always get on cases. Getting the S Pen out of the Note 9 does become a little trickier (you’ll have to pull from the right side of the pen), but it seems a fair trade for Incipio’s promise of drop protection up to 10 feet.

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen Rugged Armor

Price: $25
Colors: Black
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Spigen’s Rugged Armor case might be thinner than the competition, but it still offers serious protection. This case is a good balance between good looks, protection, and a minimal footprint: The Rugged Armor’s made of a soft material that’s easy to grip, with cool carbon fiber accents on the back. The buttons are easy to find without looking at your phone. And despite its soft material, the case hugs the sides of the Note 9 tight enough so it won’t accidentally pull away.

Poetic Guardian

Poetic Guardian

Price: $17
Colors: Black, blue, green, pink
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The Poetic Guardian nails its two-layer design. The front panel protects the display, with cutouts for all of the Note 9’s sensors along the top, while the back cover is a mixture of a clear layer and a ruggedized plastic bumper. The charging port and headphone jack on the bottom get covers, but S Pen remains easily accessible.

Overall, the case looks and feels nice in the hand—just make sure you clean the screen protector well before putting it on, since it’s not so easy to take apart. And keep a cloth handy, because the front panel is a fingerprint magnet.

Urban Armour Gear Plasma Series

Urban Armour Gear Plasma Series

Price: $40
Colors: Gray, clear
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Most of Urban Armor Gear’s cases have a distinct, intimidating look, but for good reason: They’re tough. Each case offers ruggedized protection without adding a lot of extra size and weight to the phone.

The Plasma model might be the best of them all. Available in two understated colors, this case fits your Note 9 like a glove, and UAG’s trademark design elements provide an industrial yet stylish feel. Each corner of the case is reinforced to absorb drops, while the back’s raised plastic lines make it easy to grip. And most notably, the button covers are the best we’ve used.

ArmadilloTek Vanguard

ArmadilloTek Vanguard

Price: $22
Colors: Black, orange, blue, pink, purple, green
Why we love it: The ArmadilloTek Vanguard Series is as rugged as rugged gets. Each case has two parts: the solid back that protects your phone from drops and a bumper that includes a built-in screen protector. On the back of the case is a kickstand that folds out and locks into place, allowing you to stand your phone up in portrait or landscape orientation. Overall, the Vanguard Series doesn’t quite have the same premium feel of a UAG or OtterBox case, but you’re still getting protection at a fraction of the cost.

Best-looking Galaxy Note 9 cases

These cases are so stylish that they get their own category. But form doesn’t necessarily trump function—these provide protection for your phone, too.

Kate Spade Hardshell

kate spade note 9

Price: $40
Colors: Floral white with gems
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Kate Spade cases always have a certain classy look to them, and the new colors of the Galaxy Note 9 really make them pop. The clear case either comes with white flowers with sparkly centers on the back, or tinted sparkly jewels encrusted under the glass.

The hard shell has a sturdy feel to it, without feeling like one of the more ruggedized cases. The buttons are little small and hard to press, but all you’ll care about is how chic your Note 9 looks.

The Kate Spade Floral white hardshell is our current pick for best-looking Note 9 case.

Otterbox Symmetry

otterbox symmetry galaxy note 9

Price: $50/$55
Colors: Black, green, purple, pattern, gradient
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: While the Otterbox Symmetry case comes in standard colors, we particularly like the Love Triangle option. Loaded with character and style, the simple lines and geometric patterns come together to add a unique look to your Note 9. We’d rather if the Love Triangle version didn’t cost $5 more than the solid colors, but it’s too cool to pass up—especially since Otterbox’s long history of sturdy, protective phone cases offers peace of mind. 

Case-Mate Waterfall

Case-Mate Waterfall

Price: $40
Colors: Iridescent, Purple Glow, Rose Gold
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The Case-Mate Waterfall is one of the few cases that looks different every time you pick it up. When you move it or shake it, the glitter inside the case moves around, subtly changing its look. Similar to the Karat Petals model, the Waterfall case is somewhat thick and sturdy, and feels like it can protect your phone through several drops. But we know you’re going to buy it for one reason: the mesmerizing glitter waterfall on the back that looks great against either Note 9 color.

Samsung S-View Flip Cover

Samsung S-View Flip Cover

Price: $60
Colors: Black, blue, purple, brown
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Samsung’s S-View Flip Cover case is the only folio case that lets you still see the lock screen. The semi-translucent cover actually serves two purposes: protecting the front of the screen, and automatically locking or turning on your phone so you can view your notifications. You can also swipe through your various Facewidgets without opening the cover, though you won’t be able to see notification content until it’s opened. All this already earns it high marks in our book, but cementing its place among our top picks are its fantastic looks.

ESR Bling

ESR Bling

Price: $14
Colors: Black, pink, purple
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Glitter fans will find plenty to love about ESR’s Bling case. Though it looks rough to the touch, the case is actually a soft plastic that’s incredibly sparkly. An insert adds rigidity to the case and a touch of contrast, while the edges are slightly flimsy (so we wouldn’t recommend it for overly clumsy users). ESR balances out this potential drawback with the design of its fingerprint cutout, however—right below the reader there’s a small ramp that guides your finger, making it far more natural to find it.

Case-Mate Karat Petals

Case-Mate Karat Petals

Price: $50
Colors: Purple Petals (clear with pink and purple flowers)
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: Few things will highlight the sleek elegance of your purple or blue Note 9 like real flowers sandwiched between two pieces of plastic. Inside this aptly named case you’ll find real, dried flowers, and small decorative pieces, so no two cases look exactly alike. It’s designed to survive a 10-foot drop, and is heavier than most cases, likely due to the resin that’s used for the flowers. That’s a good thing, however, as the added weight gives it a ruggedness that you don’t often get with fashion cases.

Best Galaxy Note 9 wallet cases

The Galaxy Note 9 is one of the biggest Android phones around, so with the right case it can double as a wallet, holding cash, credit cards, and your ID. Just make sure you don’t leave home without it.

Spigen Slim Armor CS

Spigen Slim Armor CS

Price: $40
Colors: Black, purple, blue
Wireless charging support: Yes (with up to three cards in back compartment)
Why we love it: The Slim Armor case looks identical to the Spigen Tough Armor case, except instead of a kickstand on the back, the back slides open to reveal a spot for up to three cards (though it’s a tight squeeze). With just two cards, however, the compartment lid clicks into place so it doesn’t accidentally open and spill its contents. As for the rest of the case, there’s a soft silicone interior and a hard plastic exterior that provides dual-layer protection. The buttons are big, easy to find, and have a nice feel to them.

The Spigen Slim Armor CS is our current pick for best Galaxy Note 9 wallet case.

Case-Mate Wallet Folio

Case-Mate Wallet Folio

Price: $60
Colors: Black
Wireless charging support: Yes
Why we love it: The Case-Mate wallet Folio is one of the few wallet cases that take its namesake to heart. Instead of providing a spot for a couple of debit cards and an ID card, the Wallet Folio uses the front flap to hold multiple cards, has a clear spot for your ID, and also includes a place to hold cash. The front cover doesn’t have any sort of clasp or magnetic piece to hold it closed, but it does fold back to convert into a stand for your Note 9. The Note 9 snaps into a rigid plastic housing, and the outside is made of textured leather, with spacious cutouts for ports and buttons. If you want to leave your real wallet at home, this case is a winner.

Poetic Nubuck

Poetic Nubuck

Price: $13
Colors: Black, blue, brown
Wireless charging support: Yes (with up to 2 cards)
Why we love it: One concern with any wallet case is that a card will fall out. But the leather on the back of the Poetic Nubuck case is incredibly tight, so we can’t imagine that cards will easily slip out, even after the material naturally stretches to fit its two-card capacity. Beyond the leather holding the cards, there’s a soft material on the back of the phone, with a hard plastic shell that wraps around the edges to protect the sides of the Note 9’s Infinity Display. It makes for a solid case worth your cash, even if it didn’t have the card slot.

Best kickstand Galaxy Note 9 cases

Every Note 9 case will protect your phone against bumps and bruises, but only a few of them make it easy to watch videos, too.

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