For what seemed like an age, there were no decent bumper-style cases for iPhone 5. Then, just over the past couple of months a handful have popped up, each taking a slightly different approach, but each having one thing in common: Aluminum.
For a while the buzz-word among cases (or buzz-code) was AL13. The KickStarter launched product garnered praise for its minimal design and its excellent craftsmanship. Having used it, I can say with assurance, that it’s not the only awesome metal bumper for iPhone. In fact, in some ways, I like Just Mobile’s offering more.
Just Mobile is a brand that’s building its reputation on the use of metal in innovative ways. The UpStand for iPad is an incredibly solid, aluminum stand, then there’s the AluCup as well as the HeadStand and a host of other products. All machined from fine quality aluminum. With its reputation ever-growing, the AluFrame could be its best product yet.
Made from two pieces of metal, it’s hinged at one corner and secured shut with a neat, spring-loaded catch at the opposite corner. Cutouts in the right places ensure easy access to your Lightning port, headset hack and mute switch, and leave the speaker and microphone completely un-obstructed. Placing your phone in is as simple as undoing the catch, sliding your phone in – bottom edge first – and closing it up again.
Just Mobile did take a risk however, in deciding to cover the Lock/Power Button and Volume buttons with individual covers. Also, made out of metal. But the one thing that stops the phone from losing signal through the metal is also the same material that acts as a spring beneath the button covers. All along the inside of the bumper is a layer of silicone/rubber. This – rather oddly – is the one key ingredient that makes the case so much more than just a decent bumper.
Often times with cases covering vital buttons, there’s too much stiffness and so pressing it gives no feedback at all to the user. But, by having a completely loose piece of metal over the power/lock button and one over the two volume buttons, the button cover itself is completely responsive. Thanks to the layer of rubber beneath, each button has a gently spring back motion ensuring you don’t feel like there’s anything getting in the way.
The one criticism I have against these kinds of bumpers is scratching. Although the inner edge is covered in a lining of rubber, the lips that wrap slightly around the side of your iPhone aren’t covered at all. So, if you slide your iPhone 5 in and accidentally catch the beautiful chamfers of your device on the underside of those lips, I can guarantee you’ll notice one or two very tiny nicks and scratches.
Overall however, this is a lighweight, sturdy and incredibly practical bumper case and should certainly be considered if you don’t like having your entire iPhone covered. It’s elegant. It’s fantastic.
If you want to buy your own, they cost $69.95 in the States and £59.95 in the UK. Purchasable in black or silver from Just-Mobile.com.