Cracked iPhone screen? This 8-legged case promises no more smashed displays

This clever idea could be your best bet if you hate chunky cases but still want to protect your phone from falls.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Video: Phillip Frenzel explains in German how his iPhone case works.

A new iPhone case developed by a German student detects when a device is in free fall and quickly uncoils eight legs that cushion its impact.

If you drop your $1,000 iPhone X, which has glass on the front and back, you can be pretty sure you'll crack one side, even from low heights.

The answer of course is to put on a slim case, but phones can still break with these. The other option is to use a bulky case, which can ruin the look of the phone.

Phillip Frenzel, an engineer at Aalen University in Germany, is not a fan of the bulky case so he designed the Active Dampening (AD) system, a slimmer case that has eight hidden springy legs that pop open when the phone is falling and cushion its landing.

The case has sensors that can detect when it's in free fall and it's quick enough to open them from pocket height.

SEE: How we learned to talk to computers, and how they learned to answer back (cover story PDF)

The case itself is attached to the back of the phone with the legs tucked into a small hump that looks similar to Apple's battery-boosting case.

In its popped-out state, four legs curl around the front of the phone, and four more curve backwards, protecting both sides and corners when the phone lands.

As seen in this video, closing the legs simply requires pressing each pair together and then folding them back into the case like a pocket knife.

The clever design won the student an award from the German Society for Mechatronics. Frenzel wanted to develop a kind of airbag for phones when his phone broke after a fall.

The case, dubbed ADCase, is currently a prototype, but according to Frenzel's website, he's planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter soon.

The case also includes an extra battery that can charge the phone, wirelessly or by USB cable. The cover is 4.9mm (0.19in) thick, so it would make an iPhone X 12.6mm (0.5in) thick. The legs reach around the front to give it a three-centimeter, or 1.2in, buffer.

Frenzel and business partner Peter Mayer have developed AD cases for all iPhone models from the iPhone X to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.


The case has sensors that can detect when it's in free fall.

Image: ADCase

Previous and related coverage

iOS 11.3 breaking iPhones fitted with aftermarket screens

The latest iOS 11.3 update seems to be breaking iPhone 8 handsets that that had the display replaced with an aftermarket unit.

Apple exploring touchless control, curved iPhone screens: Report

Apple is looking into standout features for future iPhones, a new report details.

Samsung vs Apple: Galaxy S9 screen beats iPhone X's, new display tests say

Samsung Galaxy S9's display is better than 4K Ultra HDTV and snatches iPhone X's crown in screen benchmark.

iPhone X's screen doesn't like sudden cold but Apple's working to fix the bug

Rapid drop in temperature causes some iPhone X screens to become unresponsive.

iPhone X: We can reduce but not eliminate burn-in on OLED screen, says Apple

Burn-in is a fact of life for OLED displays, including the iPhone X's Super Retina display.

The iPhone X cracked on the first drop (CNET)

We subjected our brand new iPhone X to a scratch and drop test to determine how much this glass and stainless steel phone can handle.

The number is relatively small when compared to Apple's sales.

Why iPhone X users hate the notch design and what Apple could have done better (TechRepublic)

Since Apple released the notch, there has been much derision cast toward the feature. Jack Wallen ponders this and plays devil's advocate for the new world display order.

Editorial standards