Julie recently reviewed the DRACO IV EVO for iPhone from DRACOdesign, and they offered their new DRACO S3 for review. The S3 is a bumper case designed to protect the edges of your phone without appreciably increasing the overall thickness of your device. Since the Galaxy S3 does not have the antenna issues of the iPhone 4, this model is all aluminum.
The bumper comes in 4 colors: Silver, Red, Thunder Black, Thunder Blue, and Midnight Blue. I chose the DRACO S3 in Thunder Blue for review, to go along with my pebble blue S3. It arrived in a nice box, with a bonus item, the Draco Smart Phone USB strap. You can find the item on their site, but there is no mention about its inclusion with the bumper. We checked with the company and they are including this in all Draco S3 bumpers.
In addition to the bonus strap, the box comes with the bumper already assembled (two screws installed), a hex key for the screws and two additional screws. You need to unscrew the pieces to install the bumper. The design is attractive, on the industrial side, and the logos are tasteful. The frame is incredibly light in your hands. I like the silver accents on the sides, it goes nicely with the anodized color.
There are warnings everywhere to not over-tighten the screws. It is on the red sticker on the bag containing the hex key, and on the instructions on the back of the box.
The instructions direct you to put the volume-side section on first, then the power-side. I easily fitted the two pieces together, and installed the screws. I had no issue getting them snug, and avoided over-tightening them. As Julie observed, the screws are tiny, so it is nice they provided extras in case you misplace one.
I thought that the Thunder Blue matched the color of my phone quite well. It’s not perfect, and I had difficulty getting a good picture representation (as the frame is matte, and the phone glossy) but I was satisfied. The buttons on the bumper are a clear improvement over my S3’s buttons (I find the original a little small for my taste). The fit is very good, but you are trying to put a bumper on a smoothly curved phone, so there was a little gap, but not too much in my opinion. I used this bumper for three days with no ill effects, but I could see this gap collecting pocket lint. Very easy to fix, but it could be a concern for some.
Regardless, the fit was very snug. It really becomes a part of your phone. It does increase the width and height of you phone a little bit. It also will increase the thickness; however, this phone is so thin I don’t see that as a negative. In fact it holds the screen off the table when you put the phone face down, so it offers some protection to your screen in this way.
The phone has a cut-out for the USB port.
I had a difficult time trying to get the USB port to show without the glare from the sides over-whelming this shot. You can also see a cut-out for the microphone, a screw on the left, and a spot for a hand strap to connect (like the included USB strap).
The top has a cut-out for the headphone jack.
Here again you can see the screw on the left and a cut-out for the microphone. I grabbed the first headphone handy, and tried it, and it did not fit. That was OK, they were cheap ones I never use, so I retrieved the Westone TS1 earphones from my gear bag, and that didn’t fit either. That was unfortunate. However, my Sony MDR-J1o headphones I use for running worked fine. Also, the earphones that come with the Galaxy S3 work as well. Here is a closeup:
The Westones on the left are just a little too big to fit all the way into the headphone jack, but the white phones that came with S3 are skinny enough, and the Sony’s have that little section that give it enough reach to work. So, you may have an issue if you are not using the stock phones, but hopefully this picture will help determine if they will work.
As a bonus, they include a wrist strap that is a Micro-USB cable. You can see the wrist strap in the earlier picture. Here is the USB cable ready for use:
You slide the strap off of the cap (far right). It takes a little effort, but since this is what keeps the strap attached to your phone, you don’t want it coming off easily. Once off, you can pop the Micro-USB end (far left) out and you have a functioning micro-USB cable. I have mixed emotions on this. It is a great to always have a USB cable handy, but I have never really understood hand straps on gadgets. Both of my Clies had them, but I never used them. However, I think the design is pretty ingenious. And after all, it is free. They also sell just the strap on their site for $9.99.
As pointed out in the comments, I managed to not include a picture of the front, so here it is:
I was impressed how quickly and easily I was able to re-install the bumper (I am reviewing a couple other cases right now). Also, at lunch with a fellow S3 owner, I was able to snap this comparison. I think it makes the Draco look a little thicker in comparison to what it is (keep in mad the S3’s lines are very curved) but it gives a good comparison of the power buttons. After removing the bumper the buttons were the biggest thing I missed.
If you are looking for a bumper case for your S3, and like your design a little more industrial, you will like this case. The color is a good match, and the bumper really becomes part of the phone. As a benefit, you will get improved buttons, at least in my opinion, and a hand strap connector if that is something you want. Headphones could be an issue on this bumper, but it works quite well with the stock headphones.