Vorsprung durch Technik – advancement through technology. That’s the motto of Audi, but the phrase works equally well for a small company called Tech21. This case-making firm produced the two iPhone 6 Plus cases that we’re looking at today, promising excellent protection through the use of advanced materials. Let’s see whether these cases live up to that promise.
Tech21 Classic Frame – Smokey
Our first case is the Tech21 Classic Frame. It protects the back and sides of your iPhone, but leaves a gap at the bottom to allow easy access to the Touch ID home button, ports and speaker. The Classic Frame looks fairly ordinary at first glance, but look a little closer and the difference will appear.
A thin orange line runs around the periphery of the case; this is the D3O material upon which Tech21 have built their brand. Normally this non-Newtonian fluid is as soft as putty, but it reacts quickly to impacts, becoming instantly solid to dissipate energy around and away from your phone.
The D3O-impregnated frame is paired with a solid polycarbonate back panel, which provides rigidity and scratch protection to the back of the phone. As the back panel is clear, you can still see the iPhone’s design through the case.
Tech21 Classic Shell with Cover
The Classic Shell with Cover is a little different than the Classic Frame. Firstly, it fully encloses the iPhone, including the bottom section. Cutouts are provided for necessary ports and features.
Next, a flip cover is attached to the back of the case, to ensure the screen of the iPhone is well protected from scratches. The flip cover is soft on the inside, with a fine diagonally striped texture on the outside. The dark back panel is fairly opaque, which disguises your iPhone to an extent.
Both cases are of undeniable quality. The D3O-impregnated frame adds a good amount of grip, making it harder to drop your phone in the first place, and after a couple of (intentional and unintentional) drops, it does seem to provide good protection as well. I was a little worried that the Classic Frame’s missing bottom section would prove a point of weakness, but the corners remain protected and this is enough for the case to absorb any impacts.
One flaw with both cases are the buttons, which feel unpleasantly spongy when pressed. They are still easy to find on the frame of the cases, but you lose the nice click that you get on an uncased iPhone 6 Plus. One nice small detail on the Classic Shell with Cover is that you get a small imprint of the volume buttons on the side of the flip cover, allowing you to adjust the volume by pressing through both layers instead of requiring you to open the flip cover.
The cases add relatively little bulk to your iPhone, although you’ll definitely notice the difference between them and a naked iPhone 6 Plus in your pocket.
So – in terms of protection and usability, I’d rate both Tech21 cases highly. If you prefer the screen protection of a cover, then the Classic Shell with Cover is a nice choice (although Tech21’s Classic Shell Wallet offers a similar form factor with credit card slots and media stand capabilities). Otherwise, the Classic Frame is a good way of adding impact and scratch protection without affecting accessibility or usability.