There haven’t been too many cases released for the Nexus 7 from big name manufacturers, so the hunt for a high quality case is still going on for many users. There are plenty of cheap cases on Ebay, but they are of questionable quality and may not be that great. Fortunately, there is a cheap and simple case for the Nexus 7 that is from a reputable manufacturer and won’t break the bank. Users who need light device protection or a case to hold them over until a high quality dual layer product is found might want to take a look at this.
The case comes from Cruzerlite, and is called the Androidified Army TPU case for the Nexus 7 tablet. It is made of the standard thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material, which is common in many cheap “Ebay” style cases, but is also popular for a good reason. The material is durable, but lightweight and flexible, making it ideal for lightweight defense of your device
On the back of the case, instead of flat plastic, there is a printout of numerous Bug Droids (Android mascots), thus the Androidified Clone Army bit in the name. It isn’t there just for looks, either; the back is also textured with a matte finish, and the mascots are drawn with recessed lines. The result is actually quite a nice in-hand feel, which almost mimics the soft touch backing of the Nexus itself. It isn’t quite as good, but it is much better than the smooth plastic of other cases.
Moving on to the ports, the Cruzerlite case uses cutouts for everything including buttons, and doesn’t cover anything important. The speaker grille leaves room for the entire speaker, the USB port can be used with even some bulky USB connectors, and the headphone jack is cutout so that the case won’t get in the way of wider plugs. There are also pinhole cutouts with the microphone, which helped keep them working well. As far as the three buttons on the Nexus go, the cutouts are just the right size and properly centered, and the edges actually taper off instead of ending abruptly. The buttons are easy to find and press, and I prefer this setup to covering the buttons like other TPU cases do.
The one problem that I did notice with the case is that the inside front edges are a bit sharp, and aren’t as playable as the rest of the case. As a result, it pushed up my screen protector, causing it to bubble, as seen above. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem with a cheaper screen protector, but the rubber wet application skin that I use is a bit thicker and peels off more easily. However, it is easy enough to reapply the protector after the case is taken off, and the problem can be avoided if the case is put on carefully. It isn’t a big deal, but it is just an annoyance that people who use wet application rubber type screen protectors should be aware of.
Since it seems that using a large knife is now the standard for scratch testing, I decided to get out my own piece of steel for this review. Above, you can see the knife that I used to try to scratch and tear the case, as well as the results. It should be clear that the knife didn’t leave any visible damage at all. The TPU material is flexible enough that all scratches were simply shrugged off, while it seemed that only the toughest stabs (which I wouldn’t try with my Nexus in the case) would punch through, as less forceful jabs were also absorbed by the material. In short, the case passes the light damage control test with flying colors.
As far as heavy damage control for drops, I would think based on the feel of the case that small drops wouldn’t be much of a problem, but once you get past three or four feet your chances become more questionable. There isn’t much protection for the front of the device, and the corners aren’t any thicker than the rest of the case. There’s also no extra padding in the case aside from the few millimeters of TPU shell, so it is clear that the case wasn’t designed for more serious drops. The occasional fall from tabletop height will probably be survived, but I wouldn’t expect too much help on a longer drop onto concrete or asphalt.
Really, in the end it comes down to this: For the $20 that this case costs, you could currently get a leather folding case that may suit your needs better. However, if you are specifically looking for a thin and light TPU material case that isn’t off of Ebay and doesn’t fold like most other offerings for the Nexus 7, then I have yet to find one that is better than Cruzerlite’s offering. In essence, it is still a TPU case, but is higher quality, better designed, better looking, and one of the best TPU cases out there.