Case-Mate has grown into one of the major case manufacturers, and the lineup for the new iPhone 5 certainly shows it with a wide selection from the start.
No less than six different designs to test so let’s get cracking.
The POP! ID is a new design that I don’t remember having seen for the iPhone 4/4S. It is a combination of the POP! designs that usually comes with a lot of silicone rubber, and the Barely There ID case that was slimmed and made from hard plastic. The idea is still the same, namely that you should be able to carry your ID, or credit cards. It works with two cards, and they are easy to place into the slot at the back. Getting them out is a bit more fiddly, and takes some getting used to. The added grip from having sides made from silicone rubber comes at the cost of making the case quite bulky. Compared to the Barely There ID the POP! ID is huge, and that is a huge flaw unless a Barely There ID is released for the iPhone 5. The POP! ID can’t replace the slimmer design. As a standalone product it works quite alright with a good fit, and great level of protection. Personally I like the back with the rubber extending giving it a curved body that is easier to grip.
POP! with stand
This is the POP! I remember from the iPhone 4/4S. It features a stand that folds out from the bottom back, and allows the phone to stand in both portrait, and landscape mode. Initially it is kind of hard to fold out, but with a couple of tries it loosens up a bit. As for portrait mode I don’t really understand when it is useful, and it is not that stable. In landscape mode it is far better for viewing movies. The case has the same design, as the POP! ID above. Hard glossy polycarbonate with rubber sides. Great protection, and grip along with a perfect fit makes it a good all-round case. Excellent fit, and a cool lining that actually further protects the phone by having the force of impact dispersed. The downside of the case is that it is on the bulky side. Still a case that can stand on it’s own even without the stand.
rPET 100% Recycled
I really love it when case manufacturers go a bit green, especially since cases shouldn’t be needed at all if all consumer electronics were produced to be more durable. The rPET is made from plastic bottles that have been recycled. Even the packaging is green made from recycled materials. At this point it is a pure winner in my book, but that changes immediately once I place my iPhone 5 in the case. It doesn’t fit, or rather the case is too large. The iPhone 5 can slide a full millimetre up, and down. It clanks about, and rattles when I use the phone. It is a shame since the see-through case is quite cool with the large recycled symbol on the back. Too bad that the measurements of the iPhone 5 seem to have eluded the designers. The current version of the rPET for the iPhone 5 is best left recycled to make a new version that fits.
The flagship of the entire Case-Mate collection is definitely the Barely There. A brilliantly simple design much like the Nude from SwitchEasy. Made just to be Barely There without adding bulk, or any other property at all. Just simple protection that most can accept taking on, as it doesn’t add bulk. For the iPhone 4/4S the Barely There felt really thin, but that was in comparison to a fatter phone. With the iPhone 5 even the Barely There feels slightly chunky adding about a third extra thickness when the lip extending above the screen is taken into consideration. Still it is one of the slimmest designs available for the iPhone 5. I guess we will see even thinner Barely There designs later on, but for now it is definitely one of the better options if you want protection without bulk.
Now this is a cool looking case with a lot of sparkles, and gloss. Actually it is the first time my wife has ever looked with longing to replace her iPhone 4S with a 5. The GLAM is a two-piece design where you simply place the iPhone in the back, and place the sides onto it. The pieces clicks into place, and to take it apart you need to use your nail at two points at the bottom. A simple, and highly effective design. For protection the GLAM is excellent adding great impact protection. If you drop it hard enough it will fall apart, and thus further help diverting the force from the phone. The design is not all glitter, but there are other features such as the slanted edges paying direct homage to the edges of the iPhone 5. Perfectly cut, and aligned cut-outs can be found for all buttons, functions and the camera. This is the best work I have seen from Case-Mate for the iPhone 5, and I hope to see more of this core design but with a less glammy back. Not that us dudes can’t wear GLAM, and rock it but it kind of says “girls night out” on the back of the packaging.
The TOUGH is exactly what it says: tough. It is made for protection, but not maximum protection as say the OtterBox Defender. Made from two pieces the TOUGH is made to withstand moderate to high impacts. The inner rubber is placed around the phone, as a soft bumper. The hard outer shell is then placed onto it from the back. The fit is perfect, and it adds a surprisingly small amount of bulk. The TOUGH adds less bulk than POP!, and not much more than Barely There. The rubberized coating of the back piece adds quite a lot of grip too. The case covers all but the mute switch, headphone socket and lightning socket with rubber. That means that the Apple 30-pin to lightning adapter will not fit. I am really impressed with the lightweight, and great fit of the TOUGH. If you are looking for great protection that makes you feel confident handing the iPhone 5 to your kid, or grandpa this is it.
The Case-Mate lineup for the iPhone 5 has some real highs, and lows. That comes with trying something new, and for that Case-Mate should be applauded. Now I have to find some fierce friends to go GLAMing with.