In a world where iPhone cases are a dime a dozen, it has to be difficult for companies to make their products stand out. I suspect, though, that Tech21 has an easier time than others.
Based outside London, Tech21 produces a series of rugged iPhone cases that come in a wide variety of designs. I first CTIA where an exec demoed D30, the unique substance that forms the protective backbone of the company's products (check out my for D30's wacky properties). Then, a few weeks later I was able to take its
Now I'm sure that some of you might be asking why we really need to use our phones when we've gone for a swim. Absolutely, the way smartphones suck our attention is pretty ridiculous at times, but the Submariner isn't just for people who can't go 5 minutes without checking Facebook. Besides a day at the pool (or if you want to be really decadent, a hot tub), it's great for the beach, boating trip, or anywhere else water could invade your handset. Like with most submersible cases, you can't make a call with the phone inside (you can dial, though no one on the other end will hear you), but you can do just about everything else.
At the top of Tech21's product line, the bright yellow Submariner stands apart in its space. While some competing cases are essentially , the Submariner has a polycarbonate shell that completely encloses your phone. As a result you get double-duty protection with the skin securing your cargo from drops on a hard surface and the strong rubber seal keeping out sand, dust, and other fine particles. Beneath the main compartment is a second deeper well that can hold your credit cards, some cash, and a couple of keys. Around front is a silicon membrane that lets you continue to use the touch screen when your phone is inside (more on that later). Take note that you can't access the volume controls, ringer switch, or power control when using the case.
Of course, I have to mention that the Submariner is the opposite of the
Opening the Submariner is a simple three-step process. After releasing the small flap on the top right side, rotate the main lock away from you 180 degrees to unlock the hatch. Then, flip down the front of the case on its sturdy hinge and insert your phone. Note, however, that you'll need to have an Impact Band already on your phone for it to fit properly. Without it, your handset will be too small for the Submariner and will drop down into the second well below. You can use a thinner Apple bumper if needed, but even then the display won't rest completely flat against the membrane. So while a bumper is a workable substitute, it's a pretty poor one.
Though I get why Tech21 requires you to use the Impact Band -- it adds another layer of protection, it's great as an everyday case, and it prevents the phone's antenna from rubbing against the Submariner's hard shell -- you'll have to keep track of two parts if you want to use the Submariner as intended. If you forget it for a day, the Submariner is essentially useless. And if you lose the Impact Band completely (like I did), you'll have to shell out $39 for a replacement.