There are plenty of cases for tablets these days, but by and large, many of them are in the folio style and while they are generally sleek, functional and provide all-round protection in most scenarios, there is a noticeable lack of rugged cases that will properly protect your tablet should you decide to take it camping or hiking. That’s where the Gumdrop Cases Drop Tech Series comes in, featuring its heavily “ruggedized” appearance which closely resembles a tire’s treads, and provides protection that isn’t far off how it looks. In this review, we’ll be taking a look at the Drop Tech Series cases for the 2012 Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0.
Like I mentioned before, the Drop Tech Series looks quite a lot like a tire’s tread, and that is definitely to give the case a more “ruggedized” or tough look. The Drop Tech cases utilize a dual layer design to maximize the protection given to your device, in this case either the 2012 Nexus 7 or the newer Tab 3 7.0. The inner later is a plastic frame which includes the inbuilt screen protector and essentially just gives your tablet the infrastructure for the outer layer, the rubber protective exterior, to latch onto and encase.
To use the case, you first strip off the outer, rubber layer, leaving only the inner plastic frame. You then slip your tablet into the frame and make sure all the buttons and ports are lined up with the gaps that are provided. The fit of the frame is actually really tight, which is what you’ll want to ensure your tablet won’t be loose inside the case, though I was actually quite frightened to try and remove my Nexus 7 from the frame because the fit was so snug and it was no easy task to pry it out.
Once inside the plastic frame, you then put on the rubber jacket and make sure that all edges have been secured. The rubber exterior is easy enough to put on with most of the sides slipping into place once you’ve put it over the frame, but the corners of the case are a bit fiddly and require a bit of pushing and shoving before they sit in place properly. Once properly donned, though, the Drop Tech case looks ready to take on the elements wherever you take it.
If there’s one thing you can be assured of, the Drop Tech cases are going to be able to withstand one hell of a pounding. The entirety of your tablet will be encased in at least 3 millimetres of rubber, and the corners are reinforced with even more rubber to ensure any drops in that area are catered for accordingly. The front edges of the case are raised quite a lot as well to ensure that your screen is protected from any drops, but you always have the in-built screen protector as back up anyway.
The rubber protection of your device extends to the ports and buttons as well; your audio and charging ports will have their own dedicated rubber stopper which fits into the plastic frame poking through the case, and although this doesn’t quite sit flush with the outer case, does actually make it easier to open the ports when you need to open them, which is unsurprisingly a lot. The various buttons will also have raised rubber buttons which are very easy and responsive to press. The case provides additional holes in the back side of the case for the speaker, and it even has holes left for the mysterious and hideously underused 4-pin connector on the side of the device.
I even worked up enough courage to do some drop tests of my own with my Nexus 7 in the Drop Tech case, and although I wasn’t quite ballsy enough to drop it from any significant heights, I’m pretty confident the cases would be able to withstand some pretty nasty spills on hard surfaces.
We know that the Drop Tech Series cases are probably going to be able to protect your devices from bumps and bruises, but how is it to use? Surprisingly good, actually. While the rubber encasement does give your tablet a bit more size, this does actually work in your favour as you will find you can more securely hold your tablet, particularly in landscape mode. In landscape mode, however, I do have one gripe, which is if you try to swipe down to get the notification menu or settings menu to open, you will find that your finger may need to be pressed right up against the case edge to be in the right position. This is more evident on the Tab 3 version rather than the Nexus 7, but both have the issue most evident in landscape mode.
The in-built screen protector does not feel intrusive at all and unless you manage to get some dust stuck under the screen when you were assembling the case, you won’t even notice it is there. It is however very reflective, which might be an annoyance for those that like matte, non-glare screens. And I have a rather obsessive-compulsive gripe about part of the case design around the front-facing camera which is that it isn’t straight on the Nexus 7 model; I would have thought since this is a custom case for a particular tablet design that it would be centred around the camera, but seeing as it doesn’t actually hinder the camera’s functions, it’s not a huge issue.
I will say that since the case is rubber, it will attract dust from everywhere and it will stick to it like glue. Your best bet is probably to use a wet towel to wipe it off, though since the case isn’t completely waterproof due to various ports and vents, you’re best off using a “dry” wet towel.
Priced at $49.95 for the Nexus 7 version and $59.95 for the Tab 3 version, the Drop Tech Series is a bit pricey, however comparable to the equivalent Tab 3 case from Otterbox, which is $69.95 (Otterbox don’t have a Nexus 7 case), the Drop Tech Series provides just as much protection for a little less. And if décor concerns you, both cases are available in the black, shown in this review, black/red and army green.
The Gumdrop Cases Drop Tech Series is a very solid performer as a protective case for the 2012 Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0. Although it may be a little fiddly to assemble, once the case is on, it definitely gives you a supreme sense of protection for your device. And while full waterproofing would have been nice, the Drop Tech Series is more than capable of taking on whatever situations and environments you want to put your tablet through.
For more information about the Drop Tech Series cases for the Nexus 7 and Tab 3 7.0, visit the product pages below: