With the launch of the iPhone 11, we saw a flood of new cases being announced, and we covered some of the more interesting ones. While the iPhone 11 isn’t in hands yet, many have previous generation phones. And, presumably, the lineup shouldn’t change much (other than dimensions and cutouts) model to model. So, with that mindset, we were able to have an Urban Armor Gear Monarch case sent over for review.
That begs the question – how is it that one tests a phone case? Should I drop my phone from a variety of heights to see what happens? Yeah, that’s not likely to happen. So, when it comes to drop protection, I’ll trust the brand for what they say. What I did do was live with the Urban Armor Gear Monarch for a week, and compare how it felt to my regular minimalist case.
The first thing I noticed with the Urban Armor Gear Monarch was the bulk. Not that it was a particularly heavy case (only 40g added on to a 156g iPhone), but it definitely is more substantial than a simple slim silicone case. The initial concern was how it could fit in the pocket, but that was a non-issue, as it’s – in practical terms – not that much larger. Sure, it’s bigger in all three directions, but not appreciably so. That extra bulk allows you to get the metal allow frame on the back, inset with leather and then all married to a resin case.
Once I had my phone settled into the Urban Armor Gear Monarch, it felt very solid in-hand. One of the unexpected delights was just how firm and tactile using the buttons (either volume or the power/wake button) felt. In my normal case, it’s just sort of mushy. With the Monarch, however, it was a very distinct press you were making, and you knew you were interacting with the phone buttons underneath. Also, once in the hand, you get to appreciate the wider sides with their honeycomb pattern for grip. It does feel like it’s easier to hold onto.
Should it slip from your hands, however, the Urban Armor Gear Monarch has plenty to help protect your phone. There’s the 5-layer construction and drop/shock protection standards the phone meets. You’ve also got some extra materials at the corners to absorb the hit. But what about the screen protection? That’s the most likely area to show damage. And in some cases, if they’re not deep enough, you’ll end up cracking your tempered glass screen protector. Better than the screen itself, but still.
And yes, that’s something I know from experience. While my slimline case is nice and compact, the screen protector is just at the height of the lip, so it’s right on-plane to get a crack. With the Urban Armor Gear Monarch, the lip is tall enough that it should not be an issue. Again, I wasn’t about to drop my phone on purpose to test it. Eyeballing it, however, it’s definitely above the height of the screen protector, so definitely an upgrade there.
Finally, let’s talk about the fitting of the case to the phone. With a basic case, you’ve got pretty flexible material involved, and you can fiddle with it to your hearts content. While I won’t say the Urban Armor Gear Monarch is difficult to slip a case into, it is more rigid. Which is to say, it’s more structural, and your phone is not going to be falling out of this case unless you’ve done something quite absurd.
When I first got my iPhone, I wasn’t even going to be worried about a case (or a screen protector). I was coming from the world of inexpensive Android phones, and had gotten used to the plain-Jane way of carrying a phone. Fortunately Victor corrected my ways early on, but I still opted for a case that didn’t get in the way. Having experienced a case like the Urban Armor Gear Monarch has me rethinking that policy. Sure, you have a little more bulk, but when you consider that new models of the iPhone easily run $1000+, getting something with more than basic protection only makes sense.
While we reviewed a version of the Urban Armor Gear Monarch specific to the iPhone 6s/7/8, it’s continued on, and is available for all of the new iPhone 11 models (as well as a variety of non-Apple devices) Pricing is consistent across the devices, at $59.95. Yes, that’s more than your basic case, but from my time with it, it feels well worth the cost, especially if you are in the habit of keeping your phone the same for 2-3 years (or more). Should the bright red and aggressive frame not be your cup of tea, the brand does have other models that mix things up and lower the pricing some as well. For now, I can say I am pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking the Urban Armor Gear Monarch, and would have it at the top of my list whenever I pick up a new phone. urbanarmorgear.com
Details from UAG
The Monarch Series iPhone 8 / 7 / 6s / 6 Case encompasses a premium design & precise engineering to provide a case that meets double the Military Standard for drop & shock protection.
- Case compatible with iPhone 8 / 7 / 6s / 6 (4.7-inch)
- Handcrafted, featherlight construction with 5 layers of protection
- Top grain leather and alloy metal hardware
- Soft impact-resistant core & honeycomb traction grip
- Oversized tactile buttons & protective screen surround
- Apple Pay & wireless charging compatible
- Meets 2X Military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6)
- 10-Year Limited Warranty