Context: Mid-twenties professional female, penchant for wearing stilettos on bumpy footpaths, high propensity for dropping things.
Number of cracked phone screens in past year – two.
Following the release of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S9+ (A$1,349), it’s understandable why many consumers – such as myself – demand a robust and durable cover.
As such, welcome Aussie tech accessories manufacturer, EFM, whose military-grade ‘Aspen’ phone case ($49.95) claims to offer “slim but tough protection”.
Durability is further enhanced with EFM’s ‘Curved Sapphire’ Glass Screen Protector ($59.95), which easily adheres to Samsung’s edge-to-edge Infinity Display.
For many consumers, a phone case and screen protector are among the first add-on accessories bought after a new phone.
With screen repairs for new Samsung phones now costing upwards of A$450, it’s clear why.
Here’s what I thought, and how both products performed:
EFM Aspen Case Armour (Black) – Samsung Galaxy S9+
A$49.95 with “2 Year Free Replacement Warranty”
Design & Protection
I always find it interesting EFM’s highly recognisable bright orange packaging covers rather… ‘drab’ looking products.
However, that’s the company’s M.O. Concerning the Aspen, this phone case is committed to function and durability, over style and frills.
It’s a no-nonsense case, which doesn’t need rose gold accents or metallic motifs.
That being said, the Aspen is not overly rugged or masculine in design, nor does it shout “made for a tradie”.
Despite my [ultra] femininity, I had no qualms being seen with the case. I appreciated that the back was largely clear, permitting the S9+’s lilac hue to peek through.
The case is very easy to keep clean, and the clear back is not a ‘fingerprint magnet’.
The Aspen is relatively unisex, and despite its ultra-protection, does maintain a comparatively thin build, compared to other heavy-duty cases.
Versus other “market leading competitors”, EFM claims Aspen’s 3.4mm bumper is “38% slimmer”.
Its 1.5mm back plate is said to be a whopping 198% thinner than its rivals.
I’ll say this – The case is certainly robust and sturdy to hold. It’s not uncomfortable, even for my petite hands. It’s an ergonomic build, yet unashamedly tough.
The edges are softer than the hard plastic back, which increases comfort, but doesn’t compromise strength.
I appreciate that the Aspen completely covers the Galaxy S9+’s edges. The perimeter of Samsung’s edge-to-edge Infinity Display is often the first place people crack. It’s good peace of mind to have, especially when the phone is dropped from a height.
Unfortunately, I did drop the phone several times, and all areas of the phone’s exterior were fine. (I was more worried about the display screen, but more on that later).
Listed to its packaging, EFM has awarded the Aspen case its highest impact test rating – ‘Ultimate’- with a score of 12.
EFM claims its Aspen case exceeds military grade drop testing standards by five times.
To substantiate such claims, The Aspen utilises high-grade, abrasion resistant TPU, fused with ‘D30’.
In layman’s terms, ‘D30’ is a highly durable material, globally recognised for superior drop and impact protection. D30 is reportedly “trusted by” sportspersons, the military and industrial workers.
A 3-layer “impact dispersion structure”, is enhanced by a polycarbonate coating, for anti-scratch and anti-UV protection.
Concerning anti-scratch, it’s not totally resistant. I found the case received the usual amount of everyday scratches I would normally encounter with others.
The case totally covers the side buttons, yet there is extreme freedom in movement, and virtually no restriction. This is often a gripe I find in other cases.
The case has open spaces for the bottom three connection points, and there’s a decent amount of depth around each cavity to prevent moisture easily getting inside.
Overall, it’s a tough and well-designed phone cover, which largely gave me peace of mind.
At the risk of sounding superficial, my only qualm is that the Aspen lacks style. A metallic stripe, or a golden side button would’ve been a welcome addition, adding customisation to a person’s phone.
However, sometimes it’s a matter of substance over style, and the Aspen is one of those phone cases.
Overall – 8.5
EFM Curved Sapphire Glass Screen Protector – Samsung Galaxy S9+
A$59.95 with “2 Year Free Replacement Warranty”
Design & Protection
Following the rise of curved smartphone screens, glass screen protectors have risen to market dominance.
Because of the expensive repair price of Samsung’s premium AMOLED screens, demand for quality glass screen protectors continues to soar.
For me, it’s usually a necessary evil. Most glass screen protectors instantly reduce the resolution (and beauty) of display screens, whilst significantly reducing touch sensitivity. Texting and emailing takes much longer.
I was very pleased to see EFM’s Sapphire glass screen protector did not notably reduce touch sensitivity.
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has a setting which increases touch sensitivity for screen protectors, and with this feature on there was virtually no perceptible difference.
Adhering the screen protector for the first time is easy, with the package including a suite of accessories to reduce dust and marks.The glass screen protector perfectly adheres to the contours of the S9+, and extends to edges well.
EFM claims the glass protector has an ‘anti-scratch sapphire coating’ – something I definitely noticed. Despite keys and other sharp objects in my handbag, there was no noticeable scratches on the screen.
That being said, the screen protector is an absolute magnet for fingerprints and smudges, more so than others I’ve tried. This was one of my major gripes, and took away from the beauty of the phone.
The S9+’s display resolution is immediately reduced after affixing the screen protector, and hues somewhat change. But that’s largely easy to fix. In settings I increased the screen’s resolution to be more crisp, and changed colour settings, to closely mimic what it was before.
I also note it’s relatively easy to take the screen protector off, and move it around. It’s not cemented on, which may be a pro or con depending on your preference.
Concerning drop protection – Boy, I’m glad the glass protector was on.
I dropped my phone twice during the test. The first, knocked the top corner off the protector, after the phone slipped off my bed onto our wood floor. Thankfully, the actual phone screen remained unscathed.
The second was a drop from my wardrobe cabinet (~1m), which cracked the majority of the protector. Thankfully, my actual phone screen emerged scot-free.
As mentioned, the protector does come off when pried, and did slip off after the second fall. Thankfully it transferred impact away from my actual phone’s screen.
Overall, the protector did its job, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
A few tweaks such as better fingerprint resistance, and improved display resolution would make it even better.
But from a protection perspective – Job well done.
Overall – 7.5