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Tech21 Impact Shell

While Apple’s iPhone 6 is thin, it feels robust enough for most use. Even so with prices starting at NZ$1000 you might want to protect a phone from drops and scratches.

Last August I tested the Tech21 Impact Shell case for the iPhone 5S. More recently the UK-based Tech21 sent me a Classic Shell cover to test on the iPhone 6.

Tech21 made both cases from a material called D30. The material turns up in military clothing. You’ll also find D30 in sportswear and clothes made for people who work in hazardous places. The important thing about D30 is the material absorbs impacts. The idea is you can drop the phone on a hard floor without doing damage.

Tech21’s Classic Shell case fits the phone snugly. Cut outs accommodate the buttons, camera, microphone and the iPhone connector.

The sample case uses clear D30 with bright orange trim. There are other colours including bright pink if that’s your thing. Around the edge is a solid bumper to take most of the punishment and a thin coating over the back of the phone which will stop scratches. There are other variations on this theme in the Tech21 range including covers for the phone’s screen.

Tech21 Classic Shell
Tech21 Classic Shell

Tech21’s main selling point is that the cases have been drop tested to military standards. That doesn’t mean your phone can take a bullet, it does mean it isn’t going to break or dent if it slips from your hand. The case provides solid protection without adding much in the way of bulk or weight.

Tech21 Impact Shell smooth

D30 has a rubbery feel and a, not unpleasant, plastic smell. It can be textured, but the Classic Shell case is smooth. Not so smooth that it would slide out of a sweaty hand on to the floor testing the material’s impact absorption, just smooth enough to feel comfortable.

I’ve tried the case out a few times and decided that despite the advantages, it’s not for me. I’m careful with phones and have rarely dropped or scratched one.

In use I find the case doesn’t get in the way, it functions well enough I’m just not keen on the way it looks. The iPhone 6 is a beautiful device. Although the Tech21 case isn’t plug ugly, it is not an adornment. It looks odd. If you work in rough places or habitually give phones a hard time you’ll find the €30 — about NZ$45 — and the sideways glances make it worthwhile.