Tech21 Impact Band for iPhone 5
Tech21 is a British company that recently entered Apple Stores with a surprisingly large footprint of products. One of its cases for the iPhone 5 is Impact Band (£25/$30): available in a wide range of colors, this is a two-piece case composed of a bumper and a hard plastic plate to cover the back. Depending on your preference, you can use the bumper alone, or pair it with the plate to provide protection for the aluminum and glass back of the iPhone 5. We recommend the latter for obvious reasons, although installation can be problematic.
The version of Impact Band we received for review is mostly clear; both the bumper and backplate are see-through. Tech21 uses a combination of materials to achieve iPhone 5 protection: the bumper is a flexible rubber material, with strips of military-grade, impact-resistant D3O inlaid along the edges to dissipate shock force. Simple clear plastic is used for the backplate.
Installing just the bumper is easy enough, but we ran into issues trying to do so along with the plate. The rubber edges tend to curl in or out, so you have to take a few minutes to massage everything into its proper place. Once situated properly, it stays as it should, but it’s just a hassle during the setup process. Along the bottom, Tech21 chose to isolate each of the ports with their own openings, except for the headphone port and microphone, which are combined.
Button protection can often be a double-edged sword, and it’s no different with Impact Band. While the coverage can be a good thing when executed properly, it’s not so positive when it interferes with pressing the buttons. Tech21’s case leans closer towards the good side, but it definitely takes more pressure to activate the buttons then it would with a better case, or a bare iPhone.
Once properly in place, Impact Band is a good rather than great case. It has a cool look, and is quite protective. We’re not big fans of the button covers, though, and the fact that it’s a pain to align properly does detract from the overall appeal. For $30, it’s one of the cheaper options in Apple’s stores, and good enough to earn our general recommendation.