The most popular aluminum iPhone case of them all is now considered to be elite. Element Case likes to release a new edition every once in a while to insure the Vapor Pro line stays up to date and in tune. The Vapor Pro Elite is Element Case's new high-performance CNC machined hybrid aluminum case made to fit the users with even more expensive taste and much deeper pockets. The Vapor Pro Elite is the flagship case in the Vapor Pro series, and for good reason. Metal, wood and leather all thrown into one single iPhone case for the ultimate prestige. Should you make the switch for an Elite status? Check out our full review down below to find out!
As a whole, the Vapor Pro Elite is still very much a Vapor Pro case at its core which we've reviewed a while ago, albeit with some appearance tweaks and upgraded hardware so to say. As if the Vapor Pro wasn't expensive enough, Element Case really set a new record with the Vapor Pro Elite at a wallet flattening $180. For that kind of cash, the least you'd expect is a gold plated iPhone case with a free subscription to Top Gear magazine. But let's be more realistic here, the Vapor Pro Elite actually does have the chops to show for it's rather absurd price.
People often times associate these types of cases made from more premium materials like aluminum with tactical gear, guns and high-performance cars whether it may be for the two sharing design similarities or fulfil the need for an equally satisfying accessory one uses as often as driving a car or out in the gun range. What ever it may be, Element Case is known for taking advantage of that. If we're going to dabble in comparing the Elite vs. the Pro in car terms, the Elite is the Bentley of aluminum cases. It has a mature, comfortably warm style while the Pro would be the Porsche of exotic aluminum cases simply for its cutting-edge styling. But enough nonsense talk, what's the real difference between the two is what you're really keen on knowing, right?
We start with what's included with the Vapor Pro Elite. Well, for starters the packaging itself is more "premium" and includes all of the standard goodies that come with the Vapor Pro with the exception of a genuine leather back plate and earpiece pad exclusive to the Elite cases. Other goodies include a black Transit hard case to keep your investment protected when not in use, a screen protector, a much needed and very helpful new back plate tack sheet that helps store the included back plate skin for later use - as well as Element Case's iconic keychain Speed Wrench screw tool which we particularly appreciate for its simple ingenuity.
Element Case offers the Vapor Pro Elite in four styles, each has its own unique imprint. The one we're testing today is the Nickel Brown edition of the Elite, and man is this one handsome looking case. The Vapor Pro Elite doesn't feel any different than any other Vapor Pro case, and retains a super high level of protection, build quality, fit and finish that we've come to expect out of Element Case.
The Elite edition features a nickel plated aluminum frame that has one of the most eye catching, chrome-like reflective finishes that I've ever seen. So far the nickel plating is durable and has held up very well, not a single scratch or scuff to be found. That high-sheen seems to ward off potential daily scuffs and scratches. So much that the imprinted Element Case logo on the side of the case begun to smear off like a cheap temporary tattoo. The silvery gold color of the nickel together with the brown wood and leather adds a lot of classyness. It's remarkably good looking, and is the most grown up case Element Case has ever produced.
Another worthwhile change is the Vapor Pro Elite's rich brown wood RF bridge which replaces the ordinary plastic one found on all Vapor Pro models which is made from certified Ziricote wood. Other than seamlessly blending in with the nickel plated aluminum frame to create that swanky look you paid for, the dark brown Ziricote wood is cut to perfection and smoothened to a fine finish. The Ziricote wood while an insignificant part on the Elite, is an exotic wood that's not easy to come by and is more expensive than a lot of other types of wood for its natural durable properties and certification.
What's changed design wise is the Vapor Pro's side railing. The Vapor Pro Elite now features an all-new side opening style designed with more elegant architectural scheme than before which also presents larger slots and a wide opening for the SIM card slot which wasn't accessible before. The Elite's redesigned side frame is purely an aesthetic change rather than anything to do with reception.
Element Case's Ultrasuede back plates are one of our most favorite parts about the Vapor cases. Only this time the Elite status calls for a more luxurious back plate. The Vapor Pro Elite comes with an amazing back plate made out of full grain leather that feels super soft to the touch and has sort of a fluffy, cushioned thickness that blows away any other leather skin. The leather skin fits perfectly around the back of the iPhone covering the entire glass and sits flush with the Elite's aluminum frame while offering a pleasurable experience when holding the iPhone. The same goes for the little matching leather earpiece pad. And just like the Ultrasuede back plates, this leather one can easily be re-applied as many times as you'd like without leaving any residue behind.
Speaking of reception, the Vapor Pro Elite's hybrid design and wooden RF insert enable full reception without any issues or concerns of getting a lower signal due to using an aluminum case. The Vapor Pro series remains one of the best options for rocking a metal constructed case without degrading signal strength.
Element Case has stepped it up with the Vapor Pro Elite there's no question about it. However, the $180 price tag is just too high to justify purchasing the Elite version of what we consider to be a very good aluminum case to start with, the original Vapor Pro. The Vapor Pro Elite is an impressive case, but it's still a Vapor Pro. And that means it's not the most comfortable case to hold, it doesn't have any grip and it needs to get on a diet pronto.
At the end of the day, we always prefer to reach for the Vapor Comp. On top of it all, the Vapor Pro Elite is simply asking too much and you either have to be mad to spend this much on a case especially ahead of the iPhone 5, or simply you're fortunate enough to have the extra cash to spend. In which case you won't be disappointed with what the Vapor Pro Elite has to offer. It's one of the most expensive iPhone case made by a mainstream brand, but it's also one of the most luxurious one at that.