Case-Mate is a well known company fluent in everything iPhone accessory. With the recent launch of Apple's iPhone 5s, Case-Mate has released a variety of new cases to keep your new phone protected, and in style. Whether you need a slim and minimalistic design, a tough and rugged design, or a convenient functionality design, Case-Mate is there to offer you a hand. We have received their new Naked Tough (middle), Barely There ID, and Caliber (left) case to see if they're worthy of being your new iPhone 5s' go-to protection. To see how they stood up against the Gadgetmac review process, head on past the break!
Let's begin with the Naked Tough case. Out of the box, you will be greeted by two separate pieces. One being a silicon rubber material bumper-esque piece and the other a clear glossy plastic shell. This unique design utilizes both pieces to provide protection and to give a classic aesthetic to your iPhone. You might have lined up for hours outside an Apple Store or waited patiently… or more likely, impatiently, for the highly-demanded gold iPhone 5s. If so, why would you hide all of its golden glory behind a case? There's also an iPhone 5c version of the Naked Tough in case you were wondering.
The protective bumper is meant to do most of the impact-absorbing and keeping your iPhone intact. However, that doesn't mean it can't look good doing it. All of the buttons have a metallic finish that adds a sense of quality to the case, but also feels much better when you press on them. The responsiveness is just as you would expect similar to if there wasn't a case on. There is no extra effort needed in accessing any of your ports or buttons. All of the ports, such as the headphone jack, speaker port, and Lightning cable port, and vibrate switch are all left well exposed.
Oddly, the entire bumper's silicon material feels sturdy and well-made except for the bottom section, right underneath the Lightning port. This is probably due to the fact that it has the least amount of silicon material as it has to travel along the edge of your iPhone to maintain the slim look. While it is not a problem fresh out of the box, it may slowly lose its quality over time and eventually break in half.
As for the hard plastic shell, there are no obvious complaints once you have it installed onto your phone. It wraps around the edges of the silicon bumper and secures itself tightly, leaving no visible gaps between the bumper and the shell. Although, my first impressions of the shell was that it was very flimsy and could easily crack under pressure. Keep in mind that because the case is a glossy finish, it will feel slippery in the hands and tend to show fingerprints very easily, as I have experienced during my review.
Once you've successfully joined the two pieces, the Naked Tough feels comfortable in the hand. It is not too bulky to be a hassle nor is it ultra thin to make it seem like it doesn't exist. Feel free to place your phone face down on a flat surface too because the silicon bumper provides a very good amount of clearance. This does tend to become an annoyance occasionally because I found it harder to reach the very sides of the screen.
One last thing that I found using the Naked Tough to be a bit peculiar was the rather large area of unprotected space around the camera. It does not seem necessary to leave so much room on the bottom of the camera. This applies for all three of Case-Mate's cases that we are reviewing.
Onto the Barely There ID case. This is a relatively simple design that functions as an ultra slim case as well as a card holder. It can hold up to two cards of your choice. The case itself is a rigid plastic material coated with a soft touch finish. There are no bells or whistles with this case.
Case-Mate went with the bare minimum on this one, but I'm not sure it was the best approach. The card slot feature relies on the bare back of your iPhone to store your cards. Considering the amount of times that someone would constantly pull out and put back in a credit card or ID card, it is very likely that the back of your iPhone will receive some sort of wear and possibly even tear. This made me very hesitant to use this case too often aside from the sole purpose of reviewing it.
Similar to the Naked Tough, this case features a lifted bezel to protect your iPhone from any excess frontal action. Going around the case now, all of your ports are left wide open as there are not individual cutouts on this case. There are three large cutouts for the top, left, and bottom areas. Again, the camera cutout is unreasonably large.
Lastly, the Caliber case. If you are looking for trustworthy protection without the notorious Otterbox bulk, this could be that alternative. The overall aesthetic gives off a military feel. This would mainly be because of the G10 ballistic composite found on the back of the case held together by four screws (that are probably just for looks) and the obvious army green color. The G10 ballistic composite is typically found on military equipment for extra grip and durability. So unlike the other two cases, this case should never accidentally slip out of your hands, no matter what.
Again, similar to the previous two cases, the bezel is significantly lifted for face-down placement. Just keep in mind, if you have larger fingers, the edges of the screen will be harder to access. The camera cutout is also uncomfortably large on the Caliber.
The rest of the case consists of seemingly durable plastic that wraps around your phone. The buttons are also a similar material and still provide a very tactile response upon pressing down, providing an audible click every time. All ports are left open without any obtrusions and does the job.
Looking into the interior of the case, there is a thin layer of cushion adhered to the back of the case where it adds extra protection for the backside of your phone. Sadly, there are no additional cushions on the corners or sides of the case to prevent any corner drop damage.
The Caliber is also a two piece system where the back is meant to interlock with the side bumper. It locks via grooves cut into both pieces that join with a very audible snap on both sides of the case. There are two small grooves cut into the sides of the Caliber where you will have to dig into to get your phone out.
All three of these cases are available on Case-Mate's website. The Naked Tough is available in clear, white, or black bumpers with a clear shell for $35. The Barely There ID comes in black, glossy white, or chrome for $25. And finally, the Caliber comes in military green or black for $50.
Barely There ID