When the new iPhone was finally released after a long wait, I finally pulled the trigger and upgraded from my 3g model. Other than a small crack in the plastic backing, it has held up well. Much of its longevity can be attributed to the number of different protective cases on it during its 3+ year life span. With a significant investment in a fancy new smart phone, investing in a case can be a good idea. Provided they can do the job.
The different cases I ran on my iPhone 3g helped keep my phone functional, but when it came to the cosmetic side of things, they didn’t do as well. While they protected the phone during the inevitable drops to the ground, every model I’ve used collects dirt and dust. In addition, when removing the cases I found the plastic backing covered in scratches. Eventually just stopped using a case altogether, preferring to run it bare in my pocket. The irony is that it didn’t get any more beat up, provided I kept keys and change away from it. The dirt didn’t build up either, since I wiped it down regularly.
My 3G held up so well, that I was unable to justify the expense of upgrading to a newer model until recently. The 4S was too much of a temptation though, and so I finally succumbed. Having a new phone, I of course wanted to protect it from the eventual “oh shit” moment. But I wasn’t about to run any old case on my favorite piece of hardware. You can imagine I was beyond stoked when Rob from Echos Communications shot over a sample case from Element Case. The model we received, the Vapor Pro isn’t just any old case – I’m almost hesitant to say it, but as someone that appreciates craftsmanship, it is a piece of art. Like many of our favorite bike parts, the protective frame is CNC machined from a solid block of aluminum. This alone wouldn’t prevent scratches and dirt, but it is just one component of the case. A lot of thought clearly has gone into every detail of this product, from the stick-on suede backing to the polymer segment of the case that prevents signal loss.
This isn’t a typical phone protector. Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into every detail of this product- from the alloy casing itself, to the comfortable suede backing. Also included:
- Clear screen protector (2x)
- Padded zipper case
- Sunglass-style wipe
- Custom tool for the case hardware that includes extra hardware
Installation was easy enough. I started with the clear plastic screen cover. Having added these to my previous phones, I took extra care installing it. Although two are included, experience with similar protectors meant rushing and doing a sloppy job would leave me with air bubbles that I’d have to stare at for each time I used the phone. The thin membrane is noticeable in the light when using the phone during the day, but knowing the screen is a bit more protected is not just reassuring, but in limited light isn’t noticeable at all. I prefer using the phone with the uncovered screen, but when I do end up using the phone to watch Netflix or other similar apps, it tends to be in lower light anyway. The black suede backing also has an adesive backing, and I took equal care in applying it to the phone. It has a nice tactile feel to it, and in contrast to the alloy case, really adds to the experience of using the phone. As a bonus, because it sticks on, I’m unconcerned about dirt getting underneath it and causing scratches like other phone protectors I’ve used.
Adding the alloy case itself is unlike installing any other iPhone case I’ve owned to date. It bolts together using small allen keyed bits, and a cool little allen tool. (included with the case) As with everything else, care was taken at this step to avoid stripping the heads or the case in the installation.
In addition to the alloy case and the stick on protectors, a zip up padded case was included for traveling with the phone on more rough and tumble adventures. I haven’t used it much due to the additional size and space it takes up in my pocket, but for trail building, motorcycling, snowboarding or other endevors where I’d want a bit of extra protection it seems like a great addition. The only drawback for me is that since I use it rarely, I have been finding myself misplacing it. While it would provide quite a bit of shock protection for the phone when the phone was inside, it doesn’t appear to be water resistant in any way, so for my uses it has limited value, since it takes a bit to put the phone in and take it out. It is a nice bonus add-on though, that I wouldn’t have expected. I have yet to test how much it damps the phone signal. Since I’ve become fond of documenting my rides via GPS and the Stave app, it could come in very handy. While I haven’t used this way yet, if one wanted to travel light, there is room for stashing an id, credit card and a bit of cash if you wanted to leave the bulk of a wallet behind during an adventure.
I’ll be straight forward here; I have yet to drop my phone with the case on it. Dropping phones, especially the first time is one of those events I’m planning to avoid as much as I can. I’ve dropped previous models of the iPhone a number of times, and unlike my girlfriend’s phone, mine keep going afterward, with the addition of a ding or scratch or two, thanks to the solid state drive and the lack of moving parts. While this case is all about keeping things classy, I have no doubt it adds to the drop-ability factor of my phone. I imagine the case won’t look as sleek after a solid impact with concrete, so I’ll update this post after the first time this inevitable event occurs.
At $150, this case isn’t cheap, but it is a nicely produced product, and adds a stylish, industrial look and protection for your number one electronic gadget. Many cases don’t compliment the design of the iPhone- the Vapor Pro does. The craftsmanship on it is top notch, and it has a solid feel in the hand. While it took a minute to get used to it, it adds a bit of heft that feels reassuring. In addition, I haven’t felt that the phone’s signal strength has been compromised in anyway.
- Craftsmanship, design and incredible attention to detail
- Shape easy to hold onto with gloved hands
- Reliable feel
- Includes padded zipper case (I’d even take this motorcycling/ dirt biking/ dirt jumping)
- Some headphones may not fit though the machined holes
- Recessed buttons slightly difficult to press
- Unlikely to be compatible with iPhone docks without disassembly
- Price- quality and good design isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. The Vapor Pro will set you back $150.00
For more info, check out Element Case.