Published on May 19th, 2012 | by David0
High-End Aluminum iPhone Accessories from Element Case
The Element Case Vapor Pro is one manly iPhone protector. All sharp right angles and machined aluminum curves, it feels like something designed for the military. It does add a little weight to the iPhone, but slides easily in and out of a pocket, and fits easily in the hand. The cutouts for the dock connector and headphones have been enlarged since the last Vapor iteration, and fit most headphones and cables on the market. The included power button is easy to manipulate, though the mute switch and volume buttons are awkwardly recessed and work best with tiny hands or the corner of a finger.
I received the Vapor Pro “Stealth” edition, which features a matte, sand-blasted finish. There are plenty of other colorways that range from classy to gaudy, as well as lower-priced, lighter cases (the Vapor Comp and Composite lines) that swap some or all of the aluminum for polycarbonate.
As far as protection goes, the case grips the iPhone’s aluminum band, and a 1-2mm lip extends above and below the phone. A carbon fiber backplate offers further protection. There are many imitation carbon cases and skins on the market, but Element Case insists that theirs is 100% “aircraft grade carbon fiber,” and I believe them. Not only does the matte woven finish look badass, but after spending the last week with this case in my pocket, I can’t find a single smudge, scratch, or fingerprint on the back panel. The Vapor Pro also includes an antiglare front cover and an odd suede earpiece cushion, but neither really suited my taste- I haven’t yet found a screen cover that beats the appearance or feeling of glass.
Since the first aluminum iPhone case was release, there have been concerns over the metal cage’s effect on reception. Over the past week, I haven’t noticed any quantifiable issues with WiFi or cellular data, but Bluetooth performance has really suffered. Even at very short distances (under 3ft), audio streamed to my BlueAnt T1 regularly drops out. This is unfortunate- I love the styling and form factor of this case, but I rely on Bluetooth a lot, and the case’s screw-fastened construction means it’s not easy to take off on a whim. I’m curious about whether the cases with more composite materials solve the reception issue, but if you regularly use Bluetooth, I can’t recommend the case.
I also got to try a new dock along with the case, and fortunately I have nothing but praise for it. The brand new Element Case iPhone dock brings the company’s philosophy to a hefty, all-metal phone dock. Machined from a solid block of aluminum, it provides a rock-solid base immune from tipping over or sliding across a desk, and a case-compatible connection that perfectly fits all the cases in Element’s lineup (as well as most other 3rd-party cases).
Everything about this dock is well thought out. It includes a long USB cord that coils within to manage length, perforations that amplify the phone’s speakers, and a small shelf behind the phone to hold headsets, USB drives, or other small accessories. The docking/undocking action is smooth and sure, and the silver finish (matte black is also available) looks great next to any piece of modern Apple hardware. While pricey at $120, I get the distinct impression that this dock will outlive me- or at least last until Apple changes their docking standard.