TECH

Pong Research Soft Touch iPhone Case Review: Could This Case Save Your Life?

03/08/2012 14:20 | Updated 03 October 2012

For many people, the most frightening thing your phone can do is fall out of your hand, smash and present you with a £300 bill to replace it.

For pessimists, though, a mobile phone is a potential health time bomb, spewing out rays, radiation and other nasties which one day are going to give you and everyone you love cancer.

One is clearly a problem. One is still debatable.

And the Pong Research Soft Touch iPhone case could (potentially) help you with both.

Pong Research iPhone and iPad cases are designed to boost your WiFi and mobile phone reception, while also blocking "potentially harmful microwave frequency radiation", the words Pong users to describe the wavvy-lines in the air your phone uses to check Twitter.

Before we get to the science, though, the first thing to say is that these are nicely designed, attractive cases.

The colours (neon green, black, red, purple and blue) are bold but not overly bright, and the soft touch rubber is pleasant to hold without feeling squidgy. The structure of the case also feels strong and sturdy. The only downside is the case we tested got dirty easily, and ended up looking fairly battle-hardened over just a few days. But these are very handsome, high-quality cases.

More controversially, Pong Research claim that the case "improves signal strength by up to 46%" by building in an antenna that directs your phone's signal (and radiation) upwards, and away from your head.

We have to say we didn't notice any benefit to our reception, though. Perhaps HuffPost just happens to live and work in an area with good signal, or perhaps it did boost our signal but we were too busy watching YouTube clips of Boris Johnson falling over to notice. Either way, we aren't disputing the science behind the claim. We just didn't see much of a boost.

pong research

Now for the health stuff...

The first point to make here is that while, as Pong Research points out on its website, there are regulations in place to restrict the amount of radiation phones can emit, there is no current consensus on whether that radiation can cause health problems.

A review published by the Health Protection Agency in April said that there is "still no convincing evidence that mobile phone technologies cause adverse effects on human health", but admitted the sample size - roughly 15 years - is not enough to know for sure.

And while several media outlets breathlessly reported on a study by the World Health Organisation in 2011 that said phones were "possibly carcinogenic", that research also found no clear link between cancer and mobile phone radiation. While a relationship between the two was possible, the WHO said, "chance, bias or confounding cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence".

As for the Pong Research case, the company says several independent studies have confirmed that the design can redirect up to 95% of the electromagnetic radiation away from your head and body. And a test by Wired magazine, who were initially sceptical about the case and its claims, showed in 2009 that it does work.

Basically, the case does what it says - but whether or not that matters is still unclear.

So should you buy one? Well, really that comes down to two questions: are you worried about radiation, and do you have the cash?

The first is down to you - we recommend reading up on the various studies around the issue and making your own call. Or possibly funding a multi-million dollar study of your own, if you can. (If you do, let us know).

On the second, we'd caution that the Pong Research Soft Touch is £39.99 in the UK. But if that isn't out of your price range, we'd recommend this as a good choice.

For the feel and strength of the case alone it's among our favourites of the year so far. And if it turns out in 20 years that there really are health issues involved with using a mobile, well, we'll just accept the benefits as a lucky bonus.

Suggest a correction