Hands-on with the TaskOne multi-tool iPhone case

Designed to harness your inner MacGyver, this heavy-duty holster stows an impressive 22 tools. But are they any good?

The TaskOne case packs a ton of tools.
The TaskOne case packs a ton of tools. TaskLab

I did not expect to like the TaskLab TaskOne iPhone case.

After all, my last experience with a multifunction holster -- the ReadyCase -- was decidedly disappointing. Mostly it was an interesting idea marred by less-than-stellar execution.

So it was with some skepticism that I approached the TaskLab TaskOne multitool iPhone case, which I wrote about in my recent roundup of iPhone cases that do more than protect your phone . A few days later, I got the chance to actually test-drive one.

The TaskOne takes many of the best assets of a multitool and shoehorns them into an iPhone case, the idea being to keep all those handy tools close at hand without having to carry a separate item. Of course, surely some sacrifices must be made to accomplish such a feat of engineering, right?

Yes and no. The TaskOne is way cooler than I expected it to be, in part because it does more than I ever thought a case like this could. It packs a whopping 22 tools, and while not all of them are outstanding, most work as advertised -- and without a lot of hassle.

Finally, an "app" that turns your iPhone into a saw.
Finally, an "app" that turns your iPhone into a saw. TaskLab

And just to be clear, these are tools in the true sense of the word. Whereas the ReadyCase incorporated things like a flash drive and cord wrap, the TaskOne gives you a pliers, a bottle opener, three screwdrivers, six Allen wrenches, a wire cutter, a wire stripper, a ruler, and so on.

But what really makes friends' jaws drop is the combination knife/saw, a 2.5-inch blade that slides up from the top of the case. Sure, you can whittle with it, slice an apple, gut a fish -- all your basic daily chores -- but the reality is this looks like (and could function as) a weapon. I'd call self-defense the twenty-third "tool" in the TaskOne's arsenal.

Obviously the TSA would balk at letting you on an airplane with this, but the good news is the blade is removable. The bad news is, I couldn't remove it despite following the instructions.

I also found the kickstand capabilities, leveraged by inserting the small flathead screwdriver into either of two slots on the back, awkward at best. There's nothing really holding that piece in place, so it's easily knocked loose. More than once my iPhone just toppled over.

All the TaskOne's tools reside in a very heavy-duty (and heavy) hard-plastic housing, which consists of a rear backing and two pieces that screw together around the edges of your iPhone. Ironically, those screws require an Allen wrench, but the six-tip one that's included lacks the proper size -- so you have to use a separate Allen wrench (also included, but not stowable).

The case adds only about 5mm of thickness to your phone and about 0.2 pound, though it feels heftier than that -- in a good, protective way. The TaskOne is available for iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. They're priced at $79.95 and $99.95, respectively.

Steep, yes, but when you consider that you're getting not only protection, but also a Leatherman's worth of neatly stowed tools, this might be just the case for the family handyman, the mechanical engineer, the cyclist, or anyone else who's always in need of a screwdriver. Or pliers. Or 1.8-inch sawblade.

Ultimately, although I'm done testing the TaskOne, I'm surprised to find I don't want to take it off my iPhone. It's just that cool.

 

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