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Unlike the phone itself, the case has so very many permutations and combinations.

Sizing up Two iPhone 7 Cases

I find choosing a cell phone to be easy; I am already part of one app ecosystem (iOS) so my phone choice is pretty well locked in. I only have to decide minor things like size and color. But then, this last becomes less important than it otherwise might be, as history has taught me to slap a case on my phone as soon as it arrives and never take said case off.

It is the choice of case that puzzles me, that leaves me wondering what I need in a case, what I want in a case, and what I have to avoid at all costs. Unlike the phone itself, the case has so very many permutations and combinations. Do I need something that can hold a credit card? Should it be waterproof? Is a screen protector essential? And, while I have something like four or five choices for the color of a phone that I won’t see because it’s in a case, I have dozens and dozens of choices in color and design of a case I’m going to see all the time.

Reviewing a case then seems like a very personal thing. Do I like the color? Does it fit in my pants? Unquestionably, there are objective measures: Is it slippery? how fat, precisely, is it? Are the buttons accessible? But even that last one gets into answers that are going to be different for everyone (not everyone has the same finger size and dexterity).

So, before we get further in this review, it seems essential that I tell you what I want in a phone case, because if you don’t know where I’m coming from, how can you know if it’s in the same zip code as where you’re coming from.  My goal is the strongest, safest, most grippable, most button accessible case that adds no weight and no bulk to my phone as possible. That’s right, I want it all, and I want a muted color that only makes my phone stand out for it’s lack of standing out.

To this point with my iPhone 7—which, despite having the same dimensions as an iPhone 6 has a different camera location, necessitating a new case—I have been flipping between two different choices in an attempt to see which case is better.

 

First up, the Cygnett UrbanShield:urban-shield

Made of a slightly flexible metal, the case is certainly light and minimalist… perhaps too minimalist. While the UrbanShield covers the back of the phone as well as the sides, at the phones top and bottom it fails to exist. Cygnett has chosen to go that route as opposed to cutting out spaces for the speakers/lightning port.  At the sides, where it does have cutouts for the various buttons, it comes up just enough to let the phone sit securely inside the case with no extra coverage, offering the impression that the 7 might pop out at any minute and that were the phone to fall face first, that face would not be protected. It is also slightly too slippery, only furthering my fear that it might indeed take that fated trip to the ground. Were the phone to land on the back within the case, with its carbon fiber insert, I would have no fear of my phone’s safety.  The front though, as noted, is a different story entirely.

 

Then there is the Caseology Titan:caseology-titan

Made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and polycarbonate, the Titan is slightly heavier than the UrbanShield and thicker as well. In exchange for that extra weight and volume, the case comes up around the edges of the phone in its entirety, with cutouts for the speaker, lightning port, and the ring/silent toggle. The sleep/wake button and volume buttons are covered with ones on the case itself. The Titan features one of those silly cutouts on the back of the case that allows everyone to see the Apple logo as well. Even so, there is no fear that the phone itself will possibly come into contact with the floor on any sort of drop. In terms of its tactile qualities, it is not at all slippery, offering almost a slight give when the phone is firmly gripped.

Both the Titan and UrbanShield are available in a variety of colors, with the UrbanShield offering a design on the back as opposed to the Titan’s two-tone (due to dual materials) matte look. The UrbanShield also features the name “CYGNETT” on the back while the Titan has the Caseology logo. Neither is terribly apparent, and consequently neither is an issue.

As of this writing, Amazon is getting $15.99 for the Titan. The carbon fiber version of the UrbanShield costs $49.95 on their site, with other versions costing $39.95. Because of this price differential, the recommendation becomes simple – the Caseology is, unless the one requirement is low profile at any cost, the better choice.  Even at the same price, the Caseology feels superior, but the slightly increased bulk and weight may turn off some users.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.