One of our all time favorite aluminum bumper cases for the iPhone 4 is back in our hands and ready to case the iPhone 4S with all of its might. E13ctron's S4 aluminum bumper case was one of a kind back when we first reviewed it last year combining two front and back pieces allowing for unique color customization that has become immensely popular ever since the S4's debut. Today we take a look at a new form of the S4 called the S4V Hybrid, as the name implies this is a hybrid aluminum bumper made from one part aluminum and one part Acetal to create a winning combination to help combat that dreadful reception blocking symptom that aluminum cases suffer from. Will the S4V Hybrid prove to be a better performer than its counterpart? We find out after the jump!
At first glance nothing has seemed to have changed since we first reviewed the S4 in its very early days when it didn't even come with its own retail packaging. The S4V Hybrid finally came in proper retail packaging, although it's nothing worthy of bragging about. All of the familiarities are here as we get ready to install the S4V hybrid onto the iPhone 4S. I'm not happy to see the same old plastic liner used to keep the iPhone 4S' metal band from touching the aluminum part, in this case the aluminum part if the front half side of the S4V Hybrid.
I would have liked to see E13ctron install some corner and side padding, and try to swap the plastic liner with a more shock absorbing material as the liner like rubber instead. But then again, this is exactly what I've suggested last year and still no dice. This makes the S4V Hybrid yet another non-ideal drop protective bumper case in our eyes unlike some aluminum bumper cases such as the Draco IV and Blade which will fare better in case of a drop.
Installing the iPhone 4S inside the S4V Hybrid is a simple yet tedious three step process. Once you've got both halves of the case fitted together on your iPhone 4S, comes the step where you'll need to screw in a total of 6 hex screws to join the two halves together tightly. It takes times and you want to make sure you don't over tighten the screws. The fit as as tight as a supermodel's rocking body. Both parts come together seamlessly with no gaps just as expected. With each S4 and S4V Hybrid bumper case, you get one extra hex screw as a spare and a small hex tool. If you want to complete the installation a bit faster or like to switch between different cases or accessories more often, E13ctron offers a bigger, more comfortable to use hex driver tool made from solid aluminum for $8.99. Not a must have but of course a "luxury" option.
Don't think we never forgot about those side button cutouts because we sure haven't. Once again, this was another improvement that I though E13ctron should have addressed with its S4 and S4V Hybrid aluminum bumper cases. Volume buttons aren't easy to reach and very uncomfortable to press down on because of the small opening. By now we expect a more flawless aluminum bumper case with many others doing a better job with cutouts and even as far as to integrate dedicated button inlays. We all want a larger cutout please and a little more attention to detail wouldn't hurt either and will only make this an even better aluminum bumper case.
Setting aside all of the little indifferences, the S4V Hybrid is just as remarkable as the S4 was. It just looks stunning when you've picked out your own custom color tones and finishes. For this review we've got a matte blue aluminum front, a change of pace from the polished S4 we reviewed last, with a black Acetal back. The only drawback I could possibly think of going with the Hybrid version is that the Acetal is fixed as a back choice and only comes in black. Good thing black goes along with many colors.
Being a bumper style case, you'll might want to protect the back glass of your iPhone 4S as an extra precaution. Using any type of skin and film will get the job done, and thicker skins such as out favorite real wood skins from Trunket will work fine with the S4V Hybrid and further increase the awesomeness of your iPhone 4S outfit.
So you may be asking what's so special about this Acetal stuff and what exactly is it? Acetal is a very hard form of plastic that can be CNC machined just like it's aluminum counterpart to have the same exact cuts. It's nearly indistinguishable besides the aluminum side other than not having a matte finish but more of a semi-shiny finish to it yet it still looks like aluminum and not plastic. You'll be able to know the difference by feeling both materials. Acetal is obviously the choice when you don't want to lose any signal strength and you can even purchase the Acetal back alone for $22 if you already own a S4 or S4V to improve performance.
So now that we all know E13ctron hasn't changed the S4V Hybrid in anyway since we last reviewed the S4, but what about the performance of the Acetal back? As you can see in clear sight, the S4V Hybrid didn't degrade the reception and not one bar has been dropped while using the S4V Hybrid with the help of the Acetal back. I haven't noticed any issues with the WiFi and GPS reception as well. All I can say is that going with the hybrid aluminum bumper case will yield much better results in case you live in bad reception areas.
The E13ctron S4V Hybrid will be a less costly solution for a better performing aluminum bumper case with the same good old good looks of a traditional aluminum bumper and the freedom to choose from many different colors and finishes. As was said before, this isn't the ideal case you would want to get in order to protect your iPhone 4S from accidental drops and mishaps. You can pick up the S4V Hybrid for $69.99.