iBand hard case for iPhone review

At first glance the iBand protector for iPhone, from British company Tech 21, looks like any other iPhone hard case or rather, as the name suggests, band. Snapped around the edges of your iPhone it aims to offer additional support should you drop or knock your precious and expensive smartphone against anything unforgiving.

It's only when you explore the rather minimal packaging that you realise the iBand has a rather unique selling point. The hard case is made from something called d3o, patented and billed as an intelligent shock absorption material. According to the makers, d3o is a specially engineered material with intelligent molecules that lock together, becoming solid, to absorb impact energy. Despite this claim the iBand doesn't require Superman strength to fit and is fairly soft and flexible.

Tech 21 claims that the iBand offers 134 per cent more impact protection than most rubber and hard cases, which in reality is difficult to determine without throwing your iPhone around the room. Thankfully, a Google search reveals several tech sites that have been brave enough to test the iBand in a manner that would bring tears to the eyes of many iPhone and iPod touch users. Those videos are worth seeking out as a simple review doesn't really do the protective qualities of the iBand justice.

One potential concern is that the band doesn't cover the front or back of the iPhone, which means you are likely to still encounter the marks, scratches and finger prints that Apple's phone attracts. If the iPhone is dropped or hit at an odd angle there is also a chance the screen could be cracked. Another, as some users have pointed out, is that the controls can be difficult to access due to the hard shell, which requires some wearing in.

The iBand hard case is compatible with both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. iBand also offers protectors for the iPod touch and iPod nano. Tech 21 featured on the BBC's hit show Dragons' Den, securing funding and support from both Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis. The pair clearly see a bright future for Tech 21, which is working on a range of impact protection products covering smartphones, netbooks and laptops.

(Note: This review has been revised to highlight some concerns about accessing iPhone controls using the iBand, which wasn't mentioned in the original review.)

OUR VERDICT

Without succumbing to Dragons’ Den backed hype, the iBand hard case for iPhone is a unique and genuinely impressive addition to the vast number of cases and protectors on the market currently fighting for your attention. While the open front and back design won't be to everyone’s taste, and accessing your controls fiddly, the protective benefits are obvious. The rock solid protective d3o material is a clear winner.

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