There is a story to tell about using protective cases with the Samsung Galaxy S2 (SGS2)... the story of the dreaded SGS2 Echo Problem. This review is intended for people who are looking at buying the Case-Mate Tough Case but are concerned about this echo problem. For those unaffected by the echo issue, sorry for the rambling and please just skip to my conclusion below.
There is a serious issue with the Samsung Galaxy S2 that needs to be brought to light, namely the "echo" problem when the phone is used with a protective case such as the Case-Mate Tough Case, or any other case for that matter. This fault has affected a number of SGS2 users. Just Google "galaxy s2 echo problem" and you'll see what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, if your phone is affected then you're one of the unlucky ones because, as I found out, it is a hardware fault with the phone!
I bought my SGS2 a few weeks ago, and started looking into which case to get. This Case-Mate Tough Case sounded ideal for my needs, but I was concerned about a few reported "echo" issues (you'll see this mentioned in some reviews on this page). So I looked at reviews for other SGS2 cases from other manufacturers and I found similar reports. Then I found lots of reports on forums of people getting this problem with various cases. Confused and concerned, I decided to order one of the cheap cases made from TPU that you'll find everywhere for a few quid, and my plan was to use this while I decided on which high-quality case to buy.
When the cheap temporary case arrived I popped it on the phone and my first caller, without prompting, complained about their own voice being echoed back to them. To say that I was gutted is an understatement, especially after spending all that money on the phone and committing to a two year contract if I couldn't even protect the phone with a case!
After a bit more experimentation, I found what others had found: that the echo disappeared if I (a) switched off noise reduction every time a call was established, or (b) just used the speakerphone feature, or (c) removed the case from the phone. Updating the phone's firmware to the latest version made no difference at all.
To cut a long story short, I eventually called Samsung UK. Their response was shockingly dismissive, and you could tell they had been pre-programmed to completely deny that this issue existed. They told me that unless I was using the official Samsung case then they couldn't help me. As you may know, the official Samsung case is a thin piece of mesh plastic that clips to the back of the phone and offers virtually no protection at all! I'll talk more about Samsung's appalling cover-up in my review of the SGS2 (don't get me wrong, I love the phone!), but it is interesting to note that Samsung were going to sell an official case similar to Case-Mate's Tough Case but then withdrew it from sale. Google "samsung galaxy s2 d30 dual shell case"... this is now shown on just a couple of websites as "discontinued". I believe it was withdrawn because it highlighted a widespread problem with their own product, the SGS2.
I eventually took my SGS2 back to my mobile provider, and demonstrated the problem. Luckily they offered to exchange it, and I was amazed to find that the echo problem disappeared completely! I tried my cheap TPU case - no echo. I bit the bullet and ordered the Case-Mate Tough Case - it arrived, I fitted it... still no echo! :- The problem had been isolated to the phone itself. There is nothing wrong with the Tough Case, and there is nothing wrong with the cheap TPU cases or any of the other cases that have "echo" complaints against them.
If your SGS2 is affected by the echo problem, then ANY protective case that you put on your phone will cause the other party in the call to hear their own voice a fraction of a second after they speak, making a conversation a complete nightmare. Some cases might make the echo louder than others, but if your phone is affected then any case will cause you grief.
The Case-Mate Tough Case is an awesome case, and gets 4 out of 5 stars for perfect fit, protection of the phone and rugged good looks. This is the one that will probably stay on my phone for as long as I own it, just because I know it will extend the life of the phone and allow me to sell it on in a couple of years time in "mint condition". The case does add to the weight and thickness to the phone, but I think this is a small sacrifice for the extra grip and protection it provides (the naked phone is slim & slippery and wouldn't do well in a confrontation with concrete or tarmac). Note that the hard outer shell of the case is a slighly rubberised plastic, which is grippy in the hand but still slips in and out of the pocket easily. I've deducted one star because the case came without a screen protector, which is quite surprising for the price.