Tech21 reveals tough testing methods behind new case range

Tech21 NPL
Case maker Tech21 just unveiled a range of new products at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London, where we also got a sneak peek at how it develops and tests its phone cases.

The Evo Check and Evo Wallet designs have been improved, there’s a new Evo Go case with a leather finish, and Tech21 is set to launch the rugged, waterproof Evo Aqua case for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

By partnering with the NPL, where radar, packet-switching, and numerous other innovations were first developed, Tech21 is testing new materials to keep our phones damage-free. We saw a number of special machines designed to test impact shock and durability. The most eye-catching was a big piston machine for drop testing.

A hapless iPhone, wearing the case under test, is strapped into the vice at the bottom and then the piston is fired to slam down with different amounts of force to simulate drops. It’s capable of delivering force equivalent to a fall from 30 meters. A high-speed camera captures 4,000 frames per second to see exactly what happens at the moment of impact.

Countless phones have met an untimely death at its hands, but all in the name of improving Tech21’s drop protection.

“We’ve developed our test methodology in partnership with the NPL, so we can look at how our cases perform over time against competitor cases in the market,” explained Colin Woodward, Chief Marketing Officer for Tech21.

Based on this testing, Tech21 claims its fashion cases offer 350 percent more effective protection, and its rugged cases 250 percent more effective protection, than the market leader, which is Otterbox, according to the NPD Group.

Tech21 is already the number one brand in the U.K. by value, though that’s partly because it has the highest average selling price. It’s counting on the fact that a strong reputation for high standards in drop protection will justify higher prices. So far, it’s a strategy that seems to be working, and Tech21 has expanded rapidly in the U.S. market, managing to claim the number two spot for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus case sales.

As well as improving the FlexShock material that’s used in its cases, Tech21 has been refining its BulletShield material used in its screen protector range. As the name suggests, it’s the same material that’s used in bullet proof glass.

The fact that Tech21 is being transparent about its testing methods and forming partnerships with scientists to improve the drop protection its cases offer is commendable. There’s no standard body that conducts case testing and military drop test standards were never developed with phone cases in mind. Each case manufacturer has its own set of standards for drop testing, so it’s an area that could use a little more transparency for consumers.

The new case line-up

The star of the show was the forthcoming Evo Aqua, a waterproof case for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that’s set to land before the end of the year. There are two versions, both IP68-rated and offering drop protection at up to 6.6 feet. The first, the Evo Aqua, forms a seal around the iPhone’s touchscreen and is waterproof for up to one hour at a depth of 6.6 feet. The second, the Evo Aqua 360, has a screen protector built in, which allows it to handle depths of up to 9.9 feet for an hour. They’ll be available in black or white.

Waterproof cases can be notoriously difficult to fit, but the Aqua has a pretty neat design that makes it relatively easy to snap your iPhone in there. More importantly, there’s a handy tool for removing the case without a protracted struggle. You also get a wee tool, divided into sections, for testing that the case is really waterproof and highlighting any problem areas before you dunk your phone.

We also got a look at the Evo Go, a new, triple-layer case that offers drop protection at up to 9.9 feet, with concealed storage for two cards, and a real leather trim. It comes in black or light tan, and launched exclusively with T-Mobile and at on November, 9.

Tech21 has also updated its existing Evo Check and Evo Wallet lines with “Active Editions” exclusively available at Verizon and direct from Tech21. The Evo Check Active Edition can withstand drops from up to 9.9 feet, compared to 6.6 feet for its predecessor. It also sports a snazzy new speckled design in black, pink, or white. It costs $40.

The Evo Wallet Active Edition offers drop protection up to 9.9 feet and the cover portion features an external card pocket, which is flexible enough to accommodate larger items like headphones. It’s also removable, so if you want to ditch the cover and just go with the shell part, then you can. It’s available now in black or pink and it will set you back $60.


Apple’s first iPhone XR case lets you show off your handset’s color

Apple has released its first case for the iPhone XR. Costing $39, the case has a clear back so you can show off the color of your phone, whichever of the six options you went for.

Transport your Nintendo Switch in style with these nifty cases

The Nintendo Switch, which boasts both wired and handheld modes, needs a good case to ensure it doesn't get all beat up while you're on the go. We scoured through dozens of Switch cases to bring you the best ones for a variety of needs.
Home Theater

An acclaimed Apple analyst says the new AirPods are coming in 2019

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.

Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 now available on the Apple Store

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 is now available on the Apple Store for $150. The sensor strip, which is only 2 millimeters thin, automatically tracks a wide array of sleep data when placed under the user's sheets.

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Google to end support for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich

Anyone with an old phone that is still running Android 4.0 may want to look into upgrading their phone, as Google has announced that it will be ending support for this older version of Android.