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Published on May 19th, 2012 | by David

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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.

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About the Author

David has been writing professionally since 2008, as a translator and product editor for Japan Trend Shop. Along the way he has worked in IT for Six Apart (and its reincarnation as SAY Media), Naked Communications, and Tokyo 2.0, as well as volunteering his nerdiness for dance events and organizations such as the Fusion Exchange and the Portland Swing and Jazz Dance society. After graduating Lewis & Clark College in 2010, David entered the Teach for America program, and taught Algebra and Geometry at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. When he's not educating young minds or buried in a computer screen, he spends his time dancing, and frequently teaches dance with fellow TrulyNet author Ruth Hoffman.



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