You might have noticed a theme the last few weeks in our weekly column: the iPhone 5. Accessories for the redesigned handset have quickly hit the market, and I wanted to give my thoughts after getting to spend some quality hands-on time with some case options.
Probably my favorite iPhone 5 case so far, the Active combines a silicone inner shell and a protective hard case that sits on top of it. The hard case covers all the vulnerable areas of the phone, most importantly the corners. It is easy to grip and has a nice feeling in your hand while adding just a little more than 2mm of thickness to the phone. The bottom of the iPhone is completely open with full access to the Lightning connector, speakers, and headphone jack.
The only downside I found was that the covered volume buttons are a little hard find and should be raised higher. While I wouldn’t define the Active as an ultra-rugged case, it’s a great option if you are looking for a good amount of everyday protection.
It starts at $29.95 and is available in seven colors. A version of the case with a kickstand is available for $5 more, and I would highly recommend it if you make the purchase. Even though it’s only usable in landscape orientation, the metal stand is light and sturdy. It is also magnetic so it easily snaps back into the holder and stays there. Without a usable dock solution for the iPhone 5, I’ve been using the kickstand instead on my desk, and it’s been a nice substitute.
You can also purchase a case with a kickstand and holster for $54.95. I usually shy away from holsters, but Seidio’s version allows you to put the iPhone’s screen facing inside. The top clip is very easy to use and provides quick access to the phone. The rotating clip also allows an iPhone to sit vertically or horizontally.
The Surface is designed for users looking for sleeker protection. Measuring in at just 1.2mm thick, the case is composed of the same soft-touch plastic as the Active’s outer shell. The material is very nice to hold and didn’t attract much of any lint while being placed in my pocket. All of the iPhone 5’s buttons and ports are accessible through cutouts. The case is also very easy to put on with two pieces that slide together.
Available in eight colors, the Surface has the same pricing structure as the Active with an optional kickstand and holster.
My second favorite iPhone 5 case so far has definitely been the Workmate. Like the Active, it combines a hard shell outer case and impact-resistant inner core. The two parts are fused together, so it slips off in one piece. Though you can separate the two pieces if you’d like.
While the back has a rugged look, the case is easy to hold and feels really light – even more so than the Active. There are cutouts for the microphone, speakers, headphone jack, Lightning connector, and camera. Covers protecting the volume, mute toggle, and power switches are probably my biggest issue with the case as they are hard to find and push.
But with an inexpensive $24.99 price, I think the case is definitely a winner and provides a substantial amount of protection in a light package. It is available in blue or khaki. I really enjoyed the blue color as it blended in well with either the white or black iPhone 5.
Spigen SGP Neo Hybrid EX Vivid Series
Taking cues from the popular Apple Bumper Case for the iPhone 4/4S, the Neo Hybrid EX Vivid wraps around only the outside of the iPhone 5.
Composed of a UV coated hard polycarbonate frame on top of a soft silicone bumper, the Neo Hybrid feels very natural to hold in your hand and blends in well with the overall look of the iPhone 5. As a nice bonus, Spigen SGP provides full handset protection with the included screen and back panel protection films. I’ve previously reviewed the company’s screen protectors, and the back panel film was just as easy to apply with two glossy protectors for the glass parts and a matte film for the aluminum middle.
Currently available in black and yellow, the frames and bumpers can be interchanged for a unique look. The case can be ordered directly from Spigen SGP for $31.99.
Spigen SGP Ultra Thin Air Series
If you’re looking for almost-not-there protection, the Ultra Thin Air Series is a good way to go. As a shell case, the top and bottom of the iPhone 5 are completely exposed, but it does provide at least some back and side protection. A screen protector, and home button stickers are also included.
The black and white versions, which can be purchased for $19.99, do a great job of mimicking the handset’s natural colors. For $21.99, the soft clear version lets the back of the iPhone 5 shine through.
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