When it comes down to it, the reason users put a case on their smartphone is to protect it from life's little accidents. Except little accidents when it comes to a smartphone typically means big dollars. Even with carrier insurance – which costs up to $10 per month plus a deductible up to $200 depending on the device – replacing a broken smartphone will cost more than purchasing a good protective case. However, the level of protection typically depends on the materials used and the cost of the case.
Simple silicon cases, while cheap, offer very little protection in case of a drop onto a hard surface. Manufacturers looking to give consumers the best possible protection have instead turned to using materials and designs that meet the demands and specifications of the military, or "Mil Spec".
Typically, "Mil Spec" also meant cases that double, or sometimes triple, the size of users' light and thin devices. However, advances in materials have been able to create these same cases with a fraction of the bulk, creating the next-generation of "Mil Spec" cases for the latest generation of smart devices.
One of these next-generation "Mil Spec" cases is the NuGuard KX case for the iPhone 5. We've put the KX through its paces, and we can say without a doubt that users will find a sturdy, reliable case for their iPhone 5 that can withstand a beating, and then some. First shown off at CES this year, the NuGuard KX from Newer Technology, is the first military grade iPhone 5 that uses only one piece to protect your iPhone, unlike other multiple-piece cases like the Otterbox Defender or Lifeproof case. This means putting the KX case is done as easily as other cases found at the local dollar store.
However, what makes the NuGuard KX different from those cheap-o cases is the technology in the materials. Newer Technology's X-Orbiting gel, which is inserted as a thin layer between the outer and inner lining of the KX case, is the key to its outstanding protection. This gel does what silicon and most plastics cannot, it absorbs the kinetic energy from the shock of the phone being dropped onto a surface and distributes it in the gel, keeping the shock waves from reaching your phone and creating cracks, dent, or total destruction. The X-Orbiting gel also keeps the NuGuard KX slim and light; the case only adds about a half-inch thickness to an iPhone 5. However, unlike an Otterbox or Lifeproof case, the NuGuard KX does not include a built-in screen protecting film, which may detract some users. It is important to note though that the KX does create a small raised rim around the screen, keeping the glass from taking a direct impact.
In my tests, I was able to drop my iPhone 5 onto a wooden floor, ceramic tile, and concrete surface (with my breath held each time admittedly) from a height of over six feet, and each time I was relieved to see that my iPhone showed no signs of ever having experienced any impact. In fact, Newer Technology has drop tested the case at heights of over 20 feet, which is going to be much more than most average users will ever face. Simply put, this "Mil Spec" case is as tough as kevlar, but as thin and light as rubber. What makes the NuGuard KX even more appealing is that the case actually looks good on your device. Our red KX looked great on our iPhone 5, and with eight different colors to choose from there's something for everyone.
At $35 now on NewerTech's website, the NuGuard KX offers the same protection as an Otterbox or Lifeproof case at a lower MSRP. The KX can be purchased from OWC, and should be on the top of any smartphone owner's list when it comes to purchasing a military grade case. Overall Rating: A