cellhelmet started out life as a Kickstarter project last year, and they are now shipping cases for the iPhone 5 or 4/4S and the 4th- or 5th-gen iPod touch. I received an iPhone 5 case for review. At first glance, the cellhelmet seems like most other iPhone cases on the market – it protects the back of the phone from scratches. cellhelmet has a big difference; it comes with a 1-year damage coverage that protects you from the expense of replacing a damaged device. We’ll learn more about the policy at the end of the review. First, let’s look at the case. (This is a bit of a mini review. I haven’t had a lot of time with the case, because cellhelmet requested we let you know about the case before they appear on ABC’s Shark Tank show tonight. It’s a simple case, so I’ve had time to check out the fit and feel.)
The cellhelmet case is a “dense TPU” case. It has a matte finish that hasn’t attracted a lot of lint while I’ve used it. Other than the cellhelmet name pressed into the back, the case is plain. It’s translucent, so you can see the Apple logo and iPhone name on the back of the phone through the case. The iPhone 5 case is available in blue, clear, green, orange, pink, purple, red, and smoke. The package has no color identification, but I believe I received the pink. If it is pink, it definitely has a bluish cast.
The case covers the sides of the phone and wraps around over the edge of the screen. You can see that the sides of the case almost completely cover the side bezels of the phone. It doesn’t interfere with using my phone. I don’t play games on my iPhone, so I don’t know if the edges would interfere with gameplay.
The case weighs just under 0.8 ounce. It fits close to the iPhone 5, so it doesn’t add a lot of bulk. You can see the case has a bit of an ogee edge around the back. The edges are smooth, and the case fits nicely in the hand.
You can see there’s a large opening for the back camera. You can also see that the iPhone’s power/sleep button is covered by a raised “bump” in the case. This bump is very hard to press. I mentioned this to the folks at cellhelmet and was told they would be addressing this in the next iteration of the case.
The speakers and headphone jack are left open. The Lightning socket is also open, and it’s easy to plug in the Lightning cable that came with the phone. You won’t be able to use the Lightning adapter from Apple, though. Those bars between the speakers and socket may add structural integrity to the case, but they block that bulky adapter.
The SIM drawer is completely covered by the case. You’ll have to take the iPhone from the case should you need to access the SIM.
The volume rocker and mute sliders are left uncovered, but you can see they are recessed due to the thickness of the case. You can get your finger in there to use the buttons, but it’s not as easy as using them when the iPhone is caseless.
The cellhelmet is a nice, simple case. It’s available in a lot of colors, so you should find one colorful enough to suit your personality or sedate enough to fit your office environment. If the power button issue is addressed in the next generation, it should be an even more useful case.
cellhelmet warns that this case is designed to protect your device “in your pocket, not during war”. You should use the normal amount of care for your phone in the cellhelmet case that you would use for any other standard case.
However, things happen to your devices, no matter how careful you are. Insurance policies are available from Apple and from third parties, but those policies are often quite expensive. Here’s where the cellhelmet case shines. With the purchase of the case, you get a free, 1-year damage coverage that covers damage to your iPhone (or iPod touch). Your device is covered, whether it’s new, used, unlocked, or jailbroken. The glass, ports, button, frame, and even the motherboard is covered against damage. Please note that water damage is excluded.
There’s an information card for the damage coverage in the back of the package. You’ll need to register the case within 30 days of purchase, and you’ll need to supply the code found under the silver scratch-off bar on this information sheet. Once you’re registered, you’ll be covered for unlimited repairs and one replacement during the next 365 days. There are no monthly fees required to continue the service during that year, but you will be charged a $50 handling fee at the time of each damage report. You’ll have 24/7 access to an actual person at the phone number shown above, so you won’t have to wait until the next business day to get your claim started. cellhelmet says they’ll overnight your phone at their own expense. They have “52 expert and qualified repair facilities in the United States”, and they promise a 3-day maximum repair time, so you won’t have to be without your device for too long.
You’ll need to read the registration card to learn more about exclusions and limits of the policy. You’ll also find more information at cellhelmet’s website. The damage coverage only applies to purchases in the US and Canada. People in other countries may purchase and use the case, but there is no damage coverage for those users. Be sure you keep your purchase receipt, too, as it is required for coverage.
Tonight at 8:00pm EST, cellhelmet will be featured on ABC’s Shark Tank television show. ABC says “Shark Tank gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to make their dreams come true, and possibly make a business deal that will make them a millionaire.” Tune in tonight to see how cellhelmet fares in their quest.