e13ctron Aluminum Case Full Review (as well as hybrid preview!)

Discussion in 'iPhone Cases and Accessories' started by chris975d, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. chris975d

    chris975d New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey guys (and gals). Long time lurker here, but I thought I'd start posting some of my case reviews here for cases that I don't already see threads for (I normally post over at MacRumors under this same username).

    This is my review for the e13ctron Aluminum Case, which is an alternative to the Element Vapor, Atomic Billet, Kara's Case, etc (any aluminum "bumper" style case).

    Initial impressions:

    Packaging was bare. In fact, it was just each half of the case in a separate ziploc bag, with the hex screws and wrench in another. I know through emails that the company is working on finalizing the retail packaging, so this may change in the immediate future. Packaging is not a big deal to me anyway, and since I was receiving this case strictly for testing purposes, it's a non-issue for me. As far as the initial look of the case, it's very well made. Machining and finish is superb, with the finish consistent and "grain" of the aluminum uniform and all in the same direction. To those of you familiar with the high quality of finish on the Element Vapor, this e13ctron is on par with that. The logo (which I'm usually not fond of on cases) is very minimal, and very tastefully done. I'm actually pleased with the logo placement and look on this case.

    Pics:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    The way this case fits on the phone is unique to all the aluminum "bumper-style" cases out so far in that it use plastic "gasket-looking" inserts to completely suspend the case between the two halves, so that no part of the phone's antenna is coming into contact with the aluminum case. The inserts are a hard plastic, precision cut to the exact shape of the inside of the case. So the case "grabs onto" the phone via these plastic inserts, which are in turn clamping down on the antenna, not the glass (in case anyone is concerned as to whether the case rests on the glass). Hopefully you can see below how this insert system works, and how the phone is suspended on these inserts and never comes into contact with the aluminum of the case.

    So a side cut away of this case would show:
    top aluminum half
    plastic insert
    phone
    plastic insert
    bottom aluminum halfOnce the case is installed on the phone, it's very slim and sleek, and doesn't add much bulk at all to the phone, and maybe even a little less width to the phone than the Element Vapor. The case does create a small lip front and back to give it some "lay on the table" design, so that the screen and back glass don't come into contact with any flat surface that the phone is laid on.

    Performance:

    This is always the big concern when it comes to these aluminum cases. I've tested this case pretty hard for the past two days in this regard, making calls/using data/using GPS over about a 40 mile stretch in rural Georgia, and I can say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the minimal effect this case has on reception. Throughout all my testing, this case will reduce reception at most 5-7dB anywhere I've been. Again, that's a maximum reduction, quite often it was less than that. At work I typically hover around -81dB, with this case on it's -87dB. Yes, this is a reduction, but unless you're already in a very, very low reception area, it shouldn't knock you down by more than "one bar" of signal. I could make calls and use data with the phone all the way down to -120dB (this same area will test out at around -115dB with no case installed). I've gotten to where I keep my phone showing dB reading instead of "bars", as the dB reading is more useful to me anyway.

    As far as data rate is concerned, I see absolutely no change in my data speeds with the case on as opposed to no case. I average around 2500kbps download/1.4kbps upload speeds (no case) at work and home, and even with the reduced dB readings I get these same results through SpeedTest. So I see no change here.

    GPS:
    I've tested the GPS every time I've been in my car for the past two days (around 80 miles of traveling), and I'm seeing that the GPS can locate me and follow me perfectly fine, with an accuracy of about 3-6m (same as I see without a case). This has been tested using the default Google Maps app, and both Navigon and Tom Tom navigation apps. I will say that at times (not every instance), it can take the GPS up to 50 seconds (longest was 52 seconds, to be precise) to lock onto me, but once it's locked on, it has never failed to track me. On average, it takes about 15 seconds to lock onto my location with the case installed, versus the average of about 5-7 seconds with a non-cased phone. So the case does have some effect on the GPS as far as time to initial location lock, but once locked, it holds onto position fine.

    Bluetooth/wifi:
    I use a Bluetooth for almost all of my calls, and I've not seen any decrease in sound quality or connection range using my Bluetooth headsets (Motorola HX1, Jawbone Icon, and Plantronics Voyager Pro). As far as wifi is concerned, I've seen no drop in data speed (tested with SpeedTest) nor connection range, but as far as that goes, I'm only about 30 ft from my wifi router at work, so I'm not sure how effective of a test that is.

    Final Comments:

    All in all, I like this case for an all aluminum case. It has a great finish, the color (gold) matches what I was wanting exactly, and the attachment system is the best I've seen at isolating the phone from the antenna. It's also more or less a symmetrical design which I prefer, as opposed to the non-symmetrical "Vapor-design". You don't have to worry about any padding (like in the Vapor) compressing over time, or coming loose, or not being uniform around the interior of the case. These precision cut inserts will put the phone in the center of the case every time, and would be very easy to replace if you ever damaged or lost one. Yes, it does cut signal slightly, but at least in my area, it's not enough to hinder the phone's operation. I'll definitely say this is one of the top two all aluminum cases I've tried (I've tried the Vapor, Exovault, Fusionwerkz Raw 0 and C, and Alumacase). From what I've seen, if you're wanting an all aluminum case, this is definitely a good choice. If you are in a very, very low reception area (averaging 1 bar), I'd tend to direct you toward the Atomic Hybrid, if you're wanting a similar look for your case. I prefer aluminum, so I'm glad to see that the all aluminum case makers are getting better and better at making cases that minimize their impact on reception. And, as I've always said, please remember that everything I've said here is based on testing IN MY AREA, and may not be what everyone sees in their respective areas. I only state this because as a lot of you are aware of, these aluminum cases seem very influenced by area they are used in, with some users seeing far more performance hits in some parts of the country than people in other areas.

    The only negatives I'd give this case is in the area of packaging, but once the retail packaging gets finalized, it should be an even better purchase. That, and it's price is slightly higher than some of the competitors. Then again, you are getting a great attachment system (the plastic inserts), and the quality of milling/finish on this case is outstanding. Once it has better retail packaging, I'd say the case is more justified in it's cost. For those of you considering an Element Vapor, I'd definitely steer you toward this case instead, as it matches it in quality of workmanship, and easily beats it in performance (again, for an all aluminum case).
     
  2. chris975d

    chris975d New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here are some pictures of the attachment system that I described above.

    Pics:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  3. chris975d

    chris975d New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    As I stated in the thread title, I also have a preview of the e13ctron hybrid case that the company will be coming out with in the next few weeks. I've been in possession of a prototype hybrid back for about a week now.

    Initial thoughts regarding reception/performance:
    As I said when I started this thread, the e13ctron all aluminum case has been one of my top 2 all aluminum cases, so I've always had great performance with the all aluminum one. I've been able to use the all aluminum version everywhere I go, even into very low reception areas (-113dB and less), and never drop a call or lose data or GPS. I've only noticed a 6-8dB loss AT MOST with the all aluminum one. This plastic back hybrid cuts that even more. In my office (interior-most room of work...brick and metal building), I'm seeing -83 to -85dB on average with the plastic back installed, and without a case at all I see -81dB to -84dB in my office. This is just preliminary, but I can almost always gauge how reception is going to be just by performance inside my office.

    As far as initial GPS observations go, with my all aluminum e13ctron on, I usually get GPS lock in around 10-15 seconds. With the hybrid on, my first (and only, so far) two attempts have both locked me in 4 and 5 seconds. I obviously plan on doing more testing of this once I leave work and can travel on some test routes I use to compare cases.

    I still have to fully test wifi and bluetooth, but so far at work, I'm seeing no noticeable wifi degradation, but I don't experience that with the all aluminum version either, so I'm not really expecting it here.


    My biggest surprise was the prototype "black chrome" front case that Jacob sent me with this back piece to test. So far, this is the only one in this finish that they've sent out. It's absolutely gorgeous! The quick pics I took below don't do it justice, and I'm going to work on getting more that better show it's quality later on. This is a test piece that Jacob has run, and from what he's told me, they have done it in a mirror chrome as well. If they get a strong demand for them they will offer it for sale. Let me just say that it's far and away the most beautiful finish I've seen. If you can't tell from the rather crude quick pics below, it's a "smoke gray" mirror finish chrome (the last photo with it on the bricks seems to show it's finish better than any). You guys need to start emailing e13ctron now telling them how you want this finish so he will offer it for sale!


    Black chrome front with hybrid back:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Matte blue front with black plastic back:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. chris

    chris Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Likes Received:
    1,777
    Great photos and a nice review. Happy to have you here at eiC.
     
  5. chris975d

    chris975d New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks! I'll be bringing more of my reviews over in the next few days. I've got a few more new products coming in for testing/review in the next week or so. It's a bit of an obstacle working around the 6 image limit on posts though.
     

Share This Page