Element Case iPhone Custom Case Review

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iPhone cases come in all manner of shapes, sizes, materials and colors. If you can’t find a case to suit your own personal style, then you probably need to get a style ;) Other than Vaja though, there aren’t too many case manufacturers that go out of their way to give you choices when it comes to how your case is made. Now the folks at Element Case are offering iPhone owners some interesting options with their new CNC-machined and injection-molded cases.

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Their Liquid cases fit the original iPhone and iPhone 3G, while the Alloy case will only fit the original iPhone. They sent me two of their Liquid cases and an extra lid.

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The Liquid cases are made of an injection molded clear high impact polymer. Pictured here is a Pink case that isn’t normally available. They just had some left over from another order and offered to send me a sample in that color. The Liquid cases are available in Black, Grey or White.

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There are 8 parts to the Liquid and Allow cases. The bottom shell, anodized aluminum back plate, top frame, magnetic flip lid and four hex screws. An extra screw and an Allen wrench are also included.

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Whenever you need to ‘install’ or remove the iPhone from the case, you’ll need to have that Allen wrench handy.

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There is a screw in each corner that holds the frame to the top of the case, which secures the iphone in place.

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There is a cutout on the Left side that gives you access to the volume switch and mute button. I don’t have any problems pressing the volume switch, but I do have a little trouble with the mute switch.

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On the top edge, there’s a cutout for the earphone jack and wake button. You will notice that access to the SIM card slot is blocked. If you need to remove the SIM while your iPhone is in this case, you’ll have to get out that handy dandy Allen wrench.

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The cutout on the bottom exposes the speakers and docking connector. Connecting a charge / sync cable to the iPhone works fine, but you can almost definitely count out using any type of dock.

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I like that the plastic frame doesn’t get in the way of the touchscreen because it’s completely flush with the top. The frame itself is pretty thin and I could see it being a weak point to this case. The long edges do flex a bit when squeezed.

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A unique feature of these cases is the magnetic flip lid. It has a strong magnet on each corner and can be placed both on the face of the case or the back, while you’re using the phone.

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I can’t quite put my finger on what the design / style of the Element Case reminds me of. Definitely more for the younger crowd and than for Joe CEO.

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You can choose from 3 colors for the bottom half of the case, and then 6 colors for the flip lid (Red, Clear, Grey, Blue, Yellow, Green). But to further customize your Liquid or Allow case, you can choose a from several designs to be etched on the flip lid and back of the case.

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There are a ton of different designs to choose from, but if you want a truly customized case, you can have them etch your own design. They will charge you $25 to setup the vector graphics for each surface, but once that’s done, anyone could order the design. For example, if anyone wants an Element Case with the gadgeteer logo, you won’t have to pony up for the $25. Also, if you happen to be a vector art guru, you can submit your own template that they can use and also skip the $25. Talk to the folks at Element Case if you want to go that route.

The etched graphics on the metal plate on the back of the case turned out better than the graphics on the flip lid. But they both look pretty cool.

So here’s the thing, these cases do look kinda jazzy (if you’re a teenage boy), but for me, they add too much bulk to the otherwise sleek iPhone. Two extra 0unces to be specific. The weight doesn’t really bother me, but the extra chunkiness and square edges do. It doesn’t feel quite as comfy in my hand. I also don’t enjoy having to remove the flip lid when I need to use the touch screen or make a call.

The Element Case for the iPhone is an interesting idea and I can see the appeal of the customization options, but for now, I prefer to continue to use my own iPhone au natural (the phone, not me…).

 

Product Information

Price:$99.00
Manufacturer:Element Case
Pros:
  • Lots of customization options
  • Your own artwork can be etched on the lid or back
  • Magnetic flip lid is a clever idea
Cons:
  • Bulky
  • Have to carry around an Allen wrench if you want to extract your iPhone
  • SIM card slot not accessible
Posted in: iPhone, iPad, iPod

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • David January 19, 2009, 9:55 pm

    The case reminds me of a hard drive.

  • Julie January 20, 2009, 8:03 am

    @David: You’re right! :)

    BTW: If anyone would like a Pink Element Case for their iPhone, they are going to offer that color for Valentines Day :)

  • Ryan January 28, 2009, 2:12 pm

    These are absolutly gorgeous and right up my design alley!!!!!!
    But, will they make these for the ipod touch is what I would really look forward to.

  • Renji November 12, 2009, 10:13 pm

    As a long time fan of your site I’ve purchased several things you’ve reviewed, usually right before I realized you’d reviewed them, with the exception being the ScottEVest lounge pants (best sweats ever!!!) Anyway I purchased this case to give my Vaja case a break (1 year of continuous use takes its toll) and it’s not for the office I agree, but for leisure it’s great and for showing off the 3g it does the job.

  • Joe February 24, 2011, 6:34 pm

    Element Case customer service contact info phone number: (650) 486-1353

    Kills reception.
    They won’t respond to your emails about returning the case.
    They will censor you if you post anything that isn’t shining praise of their product.
    Better Business Bureau Rating: F
    http://www.bbb.org/greater-san-francisco/business-reviews/computers-supplies-and-parts/element-case-in-belmont-ca-365742

    Independent study confirming signal problem:
    http://video.gearlive.com/video/article/elementcase-vapor-4-iphone-4-antenna-q310/

    Element case admitting problems with the case:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnJxbBzlNGA

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