My Experience with Tech21’s Impact Snap Case for iPhone 5

Screen Shot 2012 10 18 at 10 06 01 PM

I met Tech21 at a recent product showcase, and I was impressed by what I saw. The company has taken a special material that absorbs shock and has found ways to incorporate it into iPhone cases that protect your precious device.

Shortly after the event, the company sent me one of their Impact Snap Cases. This snap-on case is a simple design that protects the sides and back of the new iPhone; it has a colorful liner made from the special D30 impact material that promises extra protection. The cases came with the notation that it was created for “the New iPhone”, which told me that at a minimum the packaging was created prior to the actual announcement from Apple. There was, of course, the possibility the case itself was created based on leaks rather than the actual specs from Apple.

Why does this matter? Because when I went to put the case on my phone to do the review, it scratched my brand new iPhone 5.

If this case was a pre-production unit, then it was my bad luck that it was sent to me to review; but if the case I was sent is a final model, then the company needs to prepare itself for a lot of disgruntled customers.

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Simply put, the reason for the scratch is because the case is made of rigid plastic. It is tight-fitting, and it has a lip along the top. The iPhone needs to make it PAST that lip, and to do that requires pushing the phone past the lip.

Screen Shot 2012 10 18 at 10 04 49 PM

The result was hard plastic on colored metal. Something had to give. In this case it was my phone’s finish.

Admittedly, the scratch on my iPhone isn’t huge or immediately apparent, but that is only because I noticed that the rigid plastic frame of the case was scratching the side of my iPhone, and so I immediately stopped trying to force the case on the phone. The scratch is now there and… it shouldn’t be.

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I spoke to both the PR rep and a key player in the company about the damage their case caused my phone. They were nice enough, and both told me they are looking to determine whether or not the damage was the result of my case being a preproduction unit or a larger design issue with the case. But that was a week ago, and I have heard nothing back from them. And while they said they were sorry about the damage to my iPhone, their apology doesn’t change the fact that my pristine iPhone 5, a device that cost me $650, is now scratched because I was trying to review their product — a product that is meant to protect the very device it scratched.

Let me be clear, I certainly did not expect them to offer to replace my phone (although that would have been nice, but I didn’t expect it), but I was understandably miffed they only focused on their issue while trying to determine if they had a problem. To my mind that was a problem.

Moreover, when they focused again and again on “keeping me up to date on the result of their look into my problem”, it was clear they simply assumed I wanted to help them make sure their house was in order. They even went so far as to offer to send me other styles of their cases to review.

I declined.

I’m not happy with their handling of this, which leads me to this post.

I had initially planned to review the case and offer my conclusion: I like the design and the drop protection, but there is a potential scratch problem with the case; however, as emails were exchanged I decided to simply share my story.

If they do determine that my issue was the result of the case being a preproduction unit, then I will update this post to reflect the fact. But let me be clear – until they determine whether or not this issue was unique to the case they sent me, I cannot and will not recommend this case!

Here’s the bottom line. We review new products. When we do we take on the risk that something might not go well. I get that. But when their concern is focussed completely on looking into their potential issue with the case, without any real expression of regret for the damage their case did to my $650 device, something just isn’t right.

And yes, it is possible that my issue comes from this being an early case that was made before they could refine the design. If it is, and they can prove that fact to me, then I will update this post. But, as of right now,  the way I see it is that Tech21 has a tight-fitting case made from rigid plastic that requires the iPhone to be pushed into the case and past a raised lip. Rigid plastic meets coated metal … and something is going to give. In my case, it was my phone, and a week later I am still awaiting the results of their “looking into it”.

Categories: Rants and Raves


3 replies

  1. Sorry to hear this. I have the “folding book” version of this case – basically what you have, with a flap to cover the screen – and I like it. I have taken my phone in and out of it quite a few times and the ONE scratch on my black iPhone 5 was when I had the phone naked in my pocket… I was worried the case would scratch it but am surprised how well it has performed. I did have to slightly flex the case to get the phone out of it.

  2. The edges on the iPhone 5 are ridiculously easy to damage. My 5 has already picked up three distinct scratches on the “chamfered” edge, pretty annoying only a few weeks out of the box.

    Compare that to my year-old iPhone 4S which only has a rub mark on the metal band at the top from repeatly being inserted to my car cradle (which has a similar lip that scrapes across the band like you describe on this case).

    Say what you will about the fragility of the 4/4S, but mine has gone naked more often than not with just screen protectors front and back, and its in excellent shape.

  3. Dan, you didn’t post a picture that showed the scratch on your phone. How serious is the damage? I’m also curious as to how you would have wanted them to resolve this for you, in a way that involved less that replacing your phone, but clearly more than just an apparently empty apology.