Element Case Sector 5 iPhone case review

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I typically do not use cases with my tech gear, especially Apple products. I prefer using them as the designers intended them, embracing the form-factor and living with the risk of damage. However, with the iPhone 5, I have seen the carnage that a single drop can do – from marring/scratching the black aluminum edging and backplate to destroying the screen. So, I decided to look for a case that provided solid protection, was not too bulky, metal construction, was tech-stylish, and felt as good to hold as the iPhone itself. The Sector 5 by Element Case appeared to meet all of my requirements and more. Luckily the folks at Element Case were willing to send me one of their Sector 5 First Edition cases to review.

The Sector 5 is constructed of 8 CNC machined aluminum links held together with stainless steel fasteners/bolts. This form creates an ultra strong, feather light metal bumper case design. According to Element Case, ‘this modular design allows endless customization or upgrade possibilities’.

Without an iPhone 5 in it, the Sector 5 feels very fragile in my hand. I could easily damage/destroy it with a simple squeeze of my fingers. A single screw removal system allows the multi-link design to “unfold” for quick and easy installation. Element Case includes a tool for inserting and removing the stainless steel bolts. Before installing the Sector 5 on your iPhone, Element case advices putting on the Rash Guard II (included) to further protect the edging of the iPhone.

Element Case also includes two back shields (gray felt and carbon fiber) and a front screen protector in addition to their sliver and black Rash Guard II’s.

When the Sector 5 is on the iPhone 5, everything firms up and gains a great deal of strength, although there is some flex on the right side of the case if squeezed. It makes the iPhone 5 much more grippable and less slick.

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The top of the Sector 5 has a push through power button.

The left side allows access to the mute switch and volume buttons. The buttons are recessed making them a bit more difficult to manipulate.

The bottom of the case has cutouts for the Lightning connector, speakers, mic, and audio plug. Straight plugs work well with the case, but the 90 degree, L-shaped plugs cannot be inserted in far enough to work.

The right side provides easy access to the sim card slot.

I really like the look and feel of the Sector 5. A friend of mine called it robotic looking. I countered saying it reminded me of a small, handheld Transformer. Either way, its high-tech look will definitely be appealing to many. That said, the Sector 5 does transform the iPhone 5 from being very scratchable to being very able to scratch other items.

So much so, Element Case includes a small zippered nylon case to hold the iPhone/Sector 5 pair. Within both of those cases, the iPhone is extremely safe and secure.

The Sector SE (Standard Edition) is available in Gun Metal Grey, Silver, or Black, and all feature a satin Flux Finish. The Sector case is covered by a full 1 year manufacturer’s defect warranty. According to Element Case, each component/piece of the Sector case will soon be available in their parts department should you need a replacement piece or want to customize the look of your case.

While the First Edition is still available via special order ($150), Element Case has just released a limited edition Black Ops version of the Sector 5 that looks even better/meaner than the rest :).

Better yet, Element Case has recently announced their new 2013 Ronin 5 line of ultra stylish cases made from Zercote’ exotic wood and nickel plated aluminum.

Both are 199.99 and tempt me…


I tested signal loss due to the Sector 5 being on my iPhone in my usual places, and found I had great to poor connectivity. In all locations, there was little to no impact to the number of bars I typically have or to my call quality.

Bottom Line:

The Sector 5 is a great case that not only protects the iPhone without adding very much bulk or weight, but does it in true tech style. Case in point, a few days ago I was counting my lucky stars I had this case on my iPhone. I was changing to go for a run when my phone slipped out of my pocket and fell just shy of 2 feet onto the concrete and tile floor below, landing on a corner edge – very scary. Not only was my iPhone 5 perfectly fine, but there was not a dent or scratch on the case itself. There was a moment of relief and amazement that made me realize my preference of going caseless might not be the best thing for my smart devices.

With the price of the Sector 5 beginning at $139.95, it is definitely a premium/luxury accessory for your iPhone, especially considering you can find plastic/silicone bumper cases on the Net for a couple of bucks. But in the case of the Sector 5, you are getting what you pay for – a finely machined, well finished, perfectly fitted CNC machined aluminum bumper case that provides an excellent look and protection for your iPhone.


Product Information

Manufacturer:Element Case
  • - iPhone 5
  • - Perfectly fitted for iPhone 5
  • - Provides excellent protection
  • - High-tech design/styling
  • - Includes Rash Guard II protection and nylon zipper case
  • - Little to no impact to reception
  • - Includes screen protector and back shields
  • - One year warranty
  • - Expensive
  • - Can scratch other gear

8 thoughts on “Element Case Sector 5 iPhone case review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. everything here said about the case is true….awesome in many ways however the case itself does NOT hold us to regular, even careful use. The case itself is scratched, dinged, scraped and looks like a wreck after 6 months…..and I am an executive who uses it carefully. The finish does not hold up and for this amount of money, it should.

    Making matters worse, the company responses were first ignored. When I followed up, I got a request for pix which I promptly sent. then the terse reply: cannot be refurbished, thank you (thank you!?).

    bad company, bad customer service, bad quality. and expensive.

    never again from them.

  3. Hi everyone, here is my sincere experience with Element Case. I ordered a iphone 5 Ronin on the 15th dec and they are supposed to send it by the 20th. it didn’t happen and when i asked their customer support the first time they replied and said they would send it that evening via fedex, which they never did. And the second time when i asked about it, they gave me a refund and said that paypal had security issues with my account which is such a lie, because i’ve done plenty of transactions with other vendors and this never happened before. I checked with Paypal and they say to check with Element Case instead. Doing my best to warn everyone. My advice? don’t do business with these amateurs. Furthermore a lot of their products have been copied in china and going for less than 10 usd. Which begs the questions, is Element Case’s product is really this innovative and unique, since it is so easy to copy. Or worse, if their product is PERHAPS made in China instead of made in USA, and the supposedly knock-offs are actually factory leaks from China. Beware of them.

  4. Element Case has definitely provided a beautiful case to match the iPhone 5’s beauty. Worth $150?? Definitely not.. This case in all reality is worth about $49 for how long it’s beauty lasts. My advice? Order one on eBay from China. I have ordered all but the Ronin case from a company in Taiwan that makes exact replicas and I honestly can’t tell a difference between mine and my buddy’s legit one. Save your money! You can buy one in every color for what ONE costs. And they’re every bit as good. Plus, I GUARANTEE these guys in China have better customer service than Element Case. All my emails are answered the same day.

  5. I recently ordered the Sector 5 Element case for my IPhone 5 and I love it. Had absolutely no issues with ordering or shipping. Only thing I did notice was that my case came with just the grey micro suede back plate and no carbon fiber one. But, then again the web site didn’t say anything about the carbon fiber one. If they eventually add one to the accessories page I may order it. As far as ordering a fake one from China??? Hey, keep it in the US! I bet your copy ends up breaking sooner than mine!! 😉

  6. I ordered the Carbon Fiber Edition in Elements Sector 5. I ordered it on a Friday afternoon, on the following Tuesday I emailed them inquiring about the shipping since they say 2 business days to ship out and I hadn’t yet recieved my tracking #. Element immediately sent me my case overnight Fed Ex and gave reason for the delay, ” there was an shortage in parts”. Do I really need say more of what kind of customer service they offer? As far as late shipping, if you have paid attention to the dates given, the case wasn’t late per their 2 business day shipping policy, however they still overnighted my case!
    As far as ordering China knockoffs, good luck, I have seen countless phones destroyed using these cases and the reception completely lost. It’s the good ol saying. “You get what you pay for” stands true in this case. As one said they are the same as Elements, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ll let you be the judge though as in the end you will be ordering the REAL case as well eating the cost of your knockoff. Is your $700 phone really worth sacrificing over a cheap case?

  7. Black ops case severely damaged the metal sides of my 5S and i had installed perfectly with the so called rash guard. elements case did nothing for me we emailed for a week and they went from assuring me they would make it right, to telling me to mail the case back so they can examine it. At this point I am done with elements case. I paid 220 dollars for the case and another 99 for the vapor dock. The install of this case is an inherent risk for damage. Any case that recommends installing a ‘rash guard” to protect your phone should be avoided.

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