Review: Tech21 Evo Tactical Case for the Samsung Galaxy S9+
The Tech21 Evo Tactical case for the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is a semi-rugged option for protecting the expensive S9+. Not only does the case have a cool name, it has a modern design that gives it a unique look. Here is Phone Scoop's review.
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There's greater variety in cases than there is among phones themselves. That's a good thing for consumers. Samsung's flagship phone is a gorgeous piece of hardware. But with two glass panels forming most of its skin, this $840 phone is also fragile.
If Samsung's Alcantara case isn't enough protection or isn't your style, the Evo Tactical is one of many cases from Tech21 designed to keep the Galaxy S9+ safe. This case is a more practical blend of style and substance; it delivers a fair amount of protection and yet it still has its own sense of identity.
The Evo Tactical is a black case made of plastics that give the S9+ some much-needed grip. It is not a minimalist case like Samsung's Alcantara, but it isn't a chunky rugged case either. It falls somewhere in the middle.
Tech21 says the Evo Tactical is formed by three layers of plastic, though you wouldn't know that to look at it. For all intents and purposes, it is a single piece of material that you stretch over your phone. On the interior walls you'll spot a lightly ribbed frame that hugs the side edges of the S9+. This ribbed bumper provides cushioning during impacts. The frame is then covered by a rubbery outer skin, which is what covers the rear surface of the S9+. Tech21 claims the outer skin has a scratch-proof coating. It didn't get marked up at all while I tested it, despite sharing pocket space with keys.
Most of the case has a matte black finish, but a series of grooved patterns carved into the back give the case its small bit of personality. The patterns are set into a butterfly-shaped section on the rear. I'd describe it as triangle-styled camouflage, done in all black. The plastic material has a soft-touch finish that I appreciate. The glass panels of the S9+ are incredibly slippery, so anything that helps keep the phone in your hand is welcome.
The case covers all four edges of the phone and the entire rear panel. It fits the S9+ well, but not 100% perfectly. I noticed that the bottom edge of the case was a little lumpy or uneven (see photo). The cutouts on the bottom ensure that you have room to access the headphone jack and USB-C port. The case should work with most headphones, but some 90-degree angled plugs might be blocked by the casing.
The Evo Tactical doesn't impede use of the buttons. Hardened nubs cover the screen lock button on the right and the volume/Bixby buttons on the left. Travel and feedback is good all around.
A single cutout on the rear of the case exposes the camera module, fingerprint reader, and heart rate monitor. I like that the case helps you find and use the fingerprint reader.
The Evo Tactical gives your screen some protection. With the Evo Tactical installed, the bumpers at the top and bottom stick out just enough space to prevent the glass from being scratched when the phone is placed face-down.
The case itself measures 1.6mm thick along the bacu surface, so it doesn't add much in the way of bulk. The S9+ is already a sizeable piece of hardware, so I'm glad the case doesn't push its dimensions to the absurd.
Tech21 has a lot of marketing jargon to amplify its claims of toughness. It calls the three-layer system described above "FlexShock". The components work together to keep hard impacts from cracking the glass. Despite the slim thickness of the case itself, Tech21 says the Evo Tactical keeps the Galaxy S9+ safe from falls as high as 12 feet (3.6m). The company performs some 20 drop tests for each case it designs and calculates million of points of data.
Much of the case's protective thickness is concentrated along the phone's side edges, where the phone has a strong metal frame. The case material covering the delicate rear glass is noticeably thinner and more flexible than the ribbed sides. I do worry a bit that the rear panel will crack if it lands flat.
With the Evo Tactical wrapped around the S9+, I dropped the phone from waist height onto a variety of surfaces, including pavement, hardwood, carpet, and ceramic tile. The phone came away from each drop unbroken. That's good. We did not drop the phone from Tech21's claimed max safe height of 12 feet.
The case surely provides some measure of protection, enough to keep the phone from cracking under everyday accidental drops. The Evo Tactical is not a fully rugged case that will protect the S9+ from the worst abuse.
Tech21 offers a pretty wide selection of cases for the S9+. The Evo Tactical delivers a medium level of protection for the phone and does so with just a small amount of visual appeal. It only comes in black, but the triangular pattern carved into the rear panel helps set it apart visually, even if only a little. If you want more robust protection for your costly phone, perhaps an OtterBox is in order.
For $45, the Evo Tactical is about the same price as many competing cases on the shelves at carrier stores. There are more stylish cases and more protective cases available. As with many things, whether or not the Evo Tactical is for you comes down to a matter of taste and trade-offs.
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