While CES is normally a treasure trove of iPhone cases and accessories, with a few Samsung cases mixed in for good measure, I was able to find one case for the Google Nexus 5 by LG, even if it was a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack: the Tech21 Impactology Impact Frame for the Nexus 5.
What I like about the case
According to the manufacturer, “Impactology is a promise that all our products always deliver the most intelligent impact protection. We can make this promise thanks to a combination of scientifically proven materials, ingenious design and unbeatable user-friendliness.” OK – let’s make our way through all of this marketing talk.
The “scientifically proven materials” mentioned above refers to something called D30 – a “material that absorbs and dissipates shock away from your device when dropped.”
For a more thorough explanation of D30, check out this review of a case that uses this material for the HTC One S, published back in 2012. In any case, I love my Nexus 5 too much to subject it to any drop tests, but it does seem like there’s some science behind the manufacturer’s claims, so I do like that.
I also like the fact that, while the case does add some bulk to my Nexus 5, it’s minimal (perhaps 5mm or so). Its edges are also softer than some cases in this category, which is nice. Cutouts exist for the microphone and headphone jack at the top, and the speaker grills on the bottom of the phone are completely exposed, so you don’t have to worry about any incoming or outgoing sound distortion.
Overall, it’s lightweight and fits the Nexus 5 like a glove.
What I don’t like about the case
First, the clear plastic back scratches way too easily. This is the third Nexus 5 case I’ve used with a clear back, and it admittedly doesn’t scratch quite as easily as the first two I tried. But it still doesn’t look great after only a couple of weeks of use. I’m not really sure if I should expect anything different in a case at this price point, but it seems to me that some kind of scratch resistant coating could have been added to keep it looking nicer than it does now (see the video below to understand precisely what I’m talking about). Admittedly, I’d rather the case be scratched than my phone, but the plastic out of which the Nexus 5 is constructed is pretty darn durable.
Second, the buttons are a little hard to press. They are not as hard to press as some cases I’ve used, and I appreciate the fact that they are raised as much as they are – this helps ensure I press the right button just by touch, and that I don’t accidentally press a button I didn’t mean to (I did that all the time when I used the Spigen Ultra Hybrid). I just wish that Tech21 had just used cutouts so that I could enjoy the original buttons the way there were meant to be enjoyed. There just isn’t quite enough button feedback provided by this case, although it is better than others in this category.
Honestly, my gripes about the case mainly stem from the fact that I don’t like cases in general. I think that cases take away from the overall user experience that the designers of the phone intended, and it just feels better to use my Nexus 5 naked. That being said, depending on the situation in which I find myself, I know that cases can come in handy and can protect my device from some nasty scuff marks, cracks, or worse. While I baby my phone most of the time, I’m also pretty clumsy – and of all the cases in this category that I’ve tried, this one by Tech21 is my favorite.
However, for some reason, this case is only sold in T-Mobile stores in the US. If you happen to live in Canada, you have a few more options: Best Buy, Bell, Future Shop, and Virgin Mobile. If you want to get the iPhone version, you can also check your local Apple store. I’m not sure why Tech21 hasn’t branched out to other retailers – at least Amazon, in an official capacity – but c’est la vie.