AL13 Aluminum Bumper for iPhone: The bumper to rule them all [Review]

The AL13 ultra lightweight aluminum bumper from Design by M has caused a lot of buzz over the past week. As soon as it was announced and available, readers and viewers seemingly jumped online out of nowhere to find out about this metal bumper for iPhone 5. Here at TiP we managed to get hold of a review unit and I’ve been using it for a few days now, and find it hard to imagine my iPhone without it.

The bumper itself is made of two parts, both are made from machined Aerospace Aluminum. It’s not just a fancy name for metal though, it means that the metal can be precision cut to extremely thin sizes and it’s still heat and fracture resistant. And, because its aluminum, it’s stupidly light too, adding only 14 grams to your iPhone. It’s fair to say you don’t know it’s there at all.

To apply it to your phone, you slide the back part down and away from the chassis, place your iPhone facedown inside it, and slide the back part back on again. It’s very simple and gives a very satisfying click when it’s in place. Cutouts in all the right places ensure you have easy access to all your buttons and ports. Once applied, it looks like it belongs. Stylishly chamfered edges ensure that it matches the design language of the iPhone 5, and it has a great anodized finished available in a variety of colors (slate black, red, gun metal, blue and silver).

Two obvious questions arise with a metal bumper: Will it scratch my iPhone’s aluminum? And: Does it affect my phone signal.

Firstly, the bumper has a rubber lining all around the inside of the frame to ensure that the metal of the case doesn’t come in to contact with your iPhone’s precious and easily scratch-able aluminum. What’s more, it comes packaged with great quality film protectors for the back, and an anti-glare, anti-scratch and anti-fingerprint screen protector.

Secondly, during testing the case only managed to produce at most 10% drop in cellular signal. Compared to the usual 25% that’s nothing. And on most occasions it didn’t affect it at all. Most of the time, I found this to be true. In my home office, I didn’t notice any real drop in signal at all. The only room I struggle with is my bedroom which – being the furthest away from the router and the one with the most amount of building between it and the nearest cell tower – is always a patchy spot.

All in all, the AL13 is simply stunning. Not only is it incredibly well designed, it’s thin, light weight and – combined with the protective films – is all the protection I need on my iPhone. The simple fact is that if anyone asked me what the best bumper for iPhone 5 was, I’d say “Design by M’s AL13” without even needing to think. And, if you’ve got $80 free, you’ll not spend it better than getting one of these amazing bumpers.

They’re available to buy for iPhone 4, 4S and 5 now from:

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