Hands-on: Tech21 Evo Tactical XT for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 provides needed drop protection
Tech21 Evo Tactical XT retail package
It's wonderful that the latest Samsung Galaxy phones have a high level of water resistance, but with front and back glass panels the phones will still break if you drop them.
Since I started fly fishing and cycling more while also running with my phone, I need something to protect my phone. Over the last week and a half I've taken the Tech21 Evo Tactical XT out on the rivers and the roads. I didn't try to drop my Note 7 for testing, but fell in the river once and dropped it on the river bed. It's still perfect.
I prefer to carry my phones in my front pants pocket without any protection most of the time I am commuting to and from the office, but don't mind wrapping my phone in a case for my outdoor adventures. Big bulky cases are not pleasing to carry around, but some case manufacturers provide rugged protection without much bulk. That is the case here with the Evo Tactical XT.
The Tech21 Evo Tactical XT is part of the 'Designed for Samsung' collection, which means it has been designed and certified to meet Samsung's performance standards. The eval case arrived in violet, which works out well for University of Washington Husky fans. It is also available in black for $49.95, with a planned shipping date of September 4.
Two parts of the case and an included belt holster
The Evo Tactical XT case is composed of two pieces. A hard black plastic front frame piece rests on the front of your Note 7 with the rear matte finish silicone and black plastic part snapping into place over the edges of the front frame piece. This back piece integrates the Tech21 FlexShock system around the edges that is designed to dissipate impact forces. Given that the worst drops occur on corners and edges, this is welcome protection for the Note 7.
Some rugged cases include a screen protector, but there is not one included with this case. I'm fine with that though since most of the rugged case screen protectors add a layer that is miserable to use on a daily basis.
Front frame piece
It was very easy to place the front frame on my Note 7 and then work around the device to secure the back piece over all edges of the front frame. It was difficult to remove the Note 7 from the case, but I'm fine with that since I don't want my expensive phone slipping easily from the protective case.
Back piece with a view of the FlexShock system
There are raised buttons for the power and volume keys, openings for the S Pen, speaker, and microphone, and port covers for the USB Type-C and 3.5mm headphone jack openings. These port covers are designed to provide dust resistance since water resistance is already provided by the Note 7 itself.
Given that the added protection of the case means you may not fit your Note 7 into your pocket, Tech21 includes a belt clip holster in the box. It's easy to slide your Note 7 into the holster while the holster also holds the device securely in place. There's an extra feature on the back clip so you can turn the belt clip into a kickstand for your Note 7. This makes the case a good choice for propping up your Note 7 to watch video content.
View from the inside looking out the bottom
Note the port covers designed to help keep out dust and debris from the openings in your Note 7.
Tech21 Evo Tactical XT rear view in the hand
The Tech21 Evo Tactical XT weighs in at 138 grams and adds an acceptable level of bulk for the drop protection it provides. It is designed to provide drop protection up to 4 meters/13 feet, but hopefully you won't ever have to test that out yourself.
Tech21 provides a lifetime warranty so if your case develops a fault with normal use, the company will replace it for free.
I've used some Tech21 cases with HTC devices in the past, but it's been a few years so I was unfamiliar with its offerings. The Evo Tactical XT fits great, looks good, and provides the drop protection I am looking for when carrying a phone constructed primarily with a glass shell.