Review: Tech 21 Evo Check Case for Pixel 2 XL
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Google's Pixel 2 XL isn't rugged. In fact, a huge piece of the rear panel is made of glass. The Pixel 2 XL may not be quite as delicate as the iPhone 8 Plus or Galaxy Note8, but it's just as expensive and still demands some form of insurance. With prices ranging up to $950, common sense dictates that you take steps to cover it up.
The Tech 21 Evo Check is a three-layer case that adds a dash of style along with 10-foot drop protection.
The Evo Check is kind of boring. It comes in black or white to match or contrast with your black or panda Pixel 2 XL. At its simplest, it creates a thick, shiny frame around your matte-finished phone. I prefer the matte look of the phone on its own. On my black Pixel 2 XL, the white Evo Check looks like a bulky spacesuit.
Some multi-piece cases require you to install each piece in a specific order to fully protect the phone. The Evo Check's three-piece design is pre-assembled, so all you need to do is stretch it around your phone.
Working our way from inside out, the innermost piece of the Evo Check is a rubbery "FlexShock" material that has cushioned ribs to absorb impacts. It is set into a more rigid plastic frame that Tech 21 says helps distribute impact energy. The outermost piece is a gel-like soft shell that tackles most of the shock generated by a fall. The three components work as one to make sure your phone is safe. The rear panel is clear and has a checked pattern etched into the material.
It's somewhat easy to tuck the Pixel 2 XL into the Evo Check. The case has a small amount of flex and stretch in just the right places so you can push the phone in without too much effort. Like many cases, removing it takes some effort.
Once in, the phone fits snugly.
You can't add a case without adding bulk. The Evo Check adds 4mm to the height, 7mm to the width, and 3mm to the thickness of the Pixel 2 XL. These incremental increases may not sound like much, and yet they make an already-big phone that much bigger. Worse, the case adds about 25% more weight. With the phone in the case, it feels simply gigantic.
The Evo Check mostly passes when it comes to usability. As noted, the size makes it a bit harder to cart around and use. The grippy material that forms the outer surface makes it more difficult to stuff into your pocket, and to retrieve.
Rubbery buttons on the right edge provide plenty of shielding, but do so at the expense of usability. Travel and feedback is quite mushy; you have to press the button hard. The opening at the bottom of the phone is large enough to accommodate any USB-C cable you might plug into the phone. That's good news.
A hole in the middle of the rear panel allows you to access the fingerprint reader. It actually makes the reader easier to find. From a purely visual perspective, the opening is not 100% centered on the reader (it skews in one direction). This doesn't impact usability at all, but it bugs the perfectionist in me.
You can squeeze the Pixel 2 XL's sides to call up the Google Assistant with no problem.
I'm not sold on the looks, but the Evo Check manages to handle the basics.
First and foremost, the Evo Check gives your screen some protection. On its own, the Pixel 2 XL doesn't have any sort of rim or lip to prevent the glass from being scratched when placed face down. With the Evo Check installed, the bumper around the outer edge of the phone creates a beefy rim that suspends the glass above anything that might damage it.
As for drop protection, Tech 21 makes some big claims. The company tested the Evo Check from some 20 different drop angles in a custom-designed machine meant to gather thousands of points of data. The three-layer design helps diffuse energy during impacts, and that means the Pixel 2 XL is safe(r) inside the case. Tech 21 says the case prevents damage from drops as high as 10 feet (3m).
With the Evo Check installed, I dropped the Pixel 2 XL from waist height onto a variety of surfaces, including: pavement, rocks, grass, hardwood, carpet, and ceramic tile. The phone came away from each drop unscathed and unbroken. I performed a few drops from shoulder height onto the same surfaces and the phone is none the worse for wear. It works.
Tech 21 sells the Evo Check for $45. It's available from Verizon and Best Buy stores, as well as online. I wouldn't call the Evo Check the best-looking or most-rugged option, but it does provide a base layer of protection against most everyday drops.
Personally, I think cases from Otter and Incipio are more rugged and stylish, respectively, but the Evo Check still checks out.
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