Gumdrop's $45 Drop Tech case for the iPhone 5 looks and feels formidable for a reason: The case is definitely geared towards those who drop their iPhone often or who engage in rugged activities. As robust as the case may look, it isn't waterproof, so don't go running through the rain with it. But in all other aspects, the Drop Tech lives up to its reputation.
The Drop Tech case consists of three parts, starting with a hard plastic frame that goes around the perimeter of your iPhone, which has a clear plastic screen protector glued to it.(I found this built-in screen protector to be more of an annoyance than a help, but more on that later.) There's also a rubber casing that surrounds the back and sides of the iPhone, as well as a little piece of plastic that keeps the camera flash from getting covered. Gumdrop offers three color options: black-on-black, black-on-red, or a solid army green.
To install the case, you have to peel the rubber from the plastic frame, then snap your iPhone into said frame, and finally after adjusting the camera flash ring, jam your iPhone surrounded by the plastic shell into the rubber and press the outer case back on.
The screen protector on the Drop Tech case hovers slightly over the screen, which makes tapping--especially typing--much more audible. I also discovered another hindrance after riding my bike with my Drop Tech-clad iPhone in my pocket: Condensation forms on the screen protector, which isn't something I was excited about. Making the screen protector optional, or allowing it to be fixed directly to the screen, would have made it function better.
The Drop Tech case feels rugged beyond a doubt, and that means that its got a decent amount of added bulk to it. (Also, it turned all my pockets inside out, so be warned.) But all of this bulk means it can withstand a decent drop, and a thick bezel makes the screen less likely a victim if dropped face down. Extra rubber can also be found on the corners, which should hopefully prevent some devastating screen cracks.
The Sleep/Wake button and volume buttons have press-through overlays, which aren't too difficult to press. The Ring/Silent switch and bottom ports have flaps covering them, which you have to open before plugging in the Lightning cable or your headphones. The Ring/Silent toggle is deep in a recess of the frame, which makes toggling it tricky if you have big fingers. In fact, I couldn't toggle it at all with my thumb, which made turning my ringer on and off a much more deliberate task.
Gumdrop's Drop Tech might be perfect if you're particularly clumsy or if you want to protect your iPhone 5 when you let your kids play with it. Look to this case if you're seeking protection from bumps, drops, and other physical damages. However if you don't like a piece of plastic over your screen, or want to use a screen protector of your choosing, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
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