Gumdrop Cases Drop Tech Series Case ($45) arrived at our office three hours before the announcement of the iPhone 5, a clear indication that accessory makers knew the exact dimensions of Apple’s new handset before it was official. It turns out that the case almost perfectly meets the specifications of the device now in users’ hands. A take on an earlier design — we previously reviewed the version for the third-generation iPad — this heavy-duty rubber and hard plastic case is built to support a taller screen and repositioned headphone port of the sixth-generation iPhone.
The case separates into two pieces: a hard plastic frame with coverage for the iPhone’s front and sides, and a silicone rubber layer that fits around the sides and back. Built into the plastic layer is a permanent screen protector; unlike the iPad version, you can’t remove it if you don’t want it. Thankfully it fits snugly against the glass without trapping air, so you won’t have to change the force with which you touch the screen. There’s a bit of a prismatic effect, but overall it’s a pretty good screen protector. To construct the case, you first snap the iPhone 5 into the plastic and then wrap the rubber around it. It takes some effort to force the rubber into the grips in the plastic, but once you’ve done so, it creates a nice seal and protects your device well from drops and bumps.
Not only does Drop Tech Series Case protect the iPhone’s body, but Gumdrop figured out nice ways to handle the buttons and ports. The Sleep/Wake button is covered by the rubber layer, as are the volume buttons, and even the Home Button. Button tactility is important, but it’s a mixed bag with this one. The volume controls are still nice and clicky, but the other two buttons have a squishier feel. The side switch and I/O along the bottom edge are protected by flip-open covers—a long one for the speaker, Lightning port, and microphone with holes that allow audio in and out, then a second smaller one for the headphone port.
Two small camera-related issues detract modestly from Drop Tech’s overall appeal right now. First, the opening in the screen protector for the FaceTime camera can result in very slight blurring at the bottom of the frame where the plastic crosses over the camera’s lens. The overlap is minimal, and under most conditions doesn’t impact the camera’s performance, but may under some lighting conditions produce a slight line of haze. The other problem is that the plastic flash diffuser ring requires special handling during the installation process. While the iSight camera works fine with or without it, it’s clear that it’s supposed to be installed, and that the ring simply isn’t attached properly. You need to hold it in position while the iPhone is being inserted, or else it will fall out of the case.
Gumdrop’s first attempt at an iPhone 5 case wasn’t quite as successful as the great third-generation iPad version, but it’s still very good. For users who like bulked-up protection, it’s an affordable and attractive option. We’d like to see a removable screen protector in the future, however, and the resolution of the camera hole issues. As it stands, Drop Tech Series Case is worthy of a B+ rating and strong general recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Gumdrop Cases
Models: Drop Tech Series Case
Compatible: iPhone 5