Whenever a new iPhone is launched, there quickly follows a wave of new cases from many different manufacturers. The Tech21 Impact Band carries the crown for being the quickest – the first such case to land in the PCA office for testing anyway.
Read: more iPhone case reviews.
Like all Tech21’s products, the Impact Band uses a shock-absorbent D3O polymer to help repel the bumps and drops any phone will receive in normal use.
In the case of the iPhone 5, this may be even more useful now that the tough stainless-steel outside band has given way to softer anodised aluminium.
The Tech21 Impact Band resembles a bumper case – a circular surround that protects the edges while leaving the front and back exposed – but this one does also include a semi-transparent back to it.
In the example we tried, the back had a frosted grey finish which turned the slate-coloured rear of the black iPhone 5 a paler shade of grey.
Tech21 Impact Band for iPhone 5: fitting and finish
Snapping the case on the phone is simple; unlike some snug or rigid covers, the Impact Band is an easy fit, helped by its more flexible, stretchable shape.
A large cutout the rear lets the main camera and its LED flash work unhindered. Similarly, there’s a wide slot underneath for the mic, speakers and Lightning port.
But all that extra padding around the circumference does make using the phone’s three buttons more tricky. Namely, the power switch on top, and volume up/down keys on the side. Secondary plastic buttons are embedded into the case which push through to the original metal ones, but you’ll still need to squeeze with a lot more force to, for example, mute the screen.
The extra D3O around the edge, clearly visible in its trademark bright orange, makes the phone feel even wider and flatter than before. Made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) it has a slightly clammy feel which nevertheless really aids grip in the hand.
If you’re already struggling to reach the top-right corner of the screen with your thumb, the extra girth this case adds may make that stretch a fraction tricker.
For protection, it’s hard to fault the Impact Band. As with the company’s Slip Case for laptops we recently reviewed, we remain unwilling to carry out true destruction testing, to see exactly how far the case will save an expensive device.
But once again, judged by the materials used and the quality of manufacture, we feel it has what it takes to keep your gadget safe in any likely accident.
In addition to the Clear version we tried, Tech21 also supplies the Impact Band for iPhone 5 in Smokey and Pink colours. If you don’t want to draw unnecessaty attention to your phone, you may want to look for Smokey over the Day-Glo-like pink and orange options.