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CTIA: The iPhone case show

Sure, you can find lots of phones at CTIA, but the trade show also is paradise for anyone looking for an iPhone case.

Want an iPhone case? You might be able to find one.
Kent Germam/CNET

NEW ORLEANS--When Apple introduced the iPhone 4 in 2010, it sported a new radical design with a full sheet of glass on its backside. While striking, the design didn't take kindly to drops on the sidewalk and the wrap-around antenna presented some unfortunate attenuation problems.

Neither scenario was best for consumers, but it also created a boon for anyone eager to make an iPhone case. And at the 2012 CTIA, it was clear that there's a lot of innovation behind such a practical product.

I began my last morning at CTIA visiting with Tech21, a London-based company furiously in the race to create a durable iPhone case. Sure, rugged cases are nothing new, but Tech21 showed an inside look at the science behind indestructibility. Its products use a non-Newtonion substance called D30, which absorbs shocks and deflects the impact away from your handset.

In its "natural" form, D30 is sort of orange goo that you can stretch like taffy, but it's solid as a rock when you smack it with a hammer. Tech21 takes D30 and molds it into all kinds of cases, from a simple ring that resembles the "bumper" cases that Apple gave away two years ago to a fully submersible case that will float on water.

Check out the slideshow for a closer look at Tech21 and see how other companies are making their mark in the very crowded world of iPhone cases. And for more from CTIA 2012, see CNET's full coverage.