We have always been big fans of aluminum cases ever since the iPhone 4 era, especially bumper style cases. But sometimes the superior designs can never make up for the dismal drop in cellular service most cases delivered. Signal loss has always been a Debbie Downer when it comes to these high quality looking cases. Aluminum bumpers such as the Draco 5 and even the Sector 5 while stunning looking, usually delivered some level of signal loss - some worse than others. Either this occurred or the iPhone couldn't decide if it wanted to stay on 4G or LTE, which in turn would deplete the iPhone's battery.
Well, our friends over at Just Mobile have sent us their latest creation for the iPhone 5, the AluFrame. We were hoping that this gorgeous looking aluminum-made bumper case would bring along functionality and not just frustrations. Jump inside to get a closer look at the AluFrame and see if it lives up to the fascinating design.
For those not too familiar with Just Mobile, the company produces some high quality designed accessories for iOS devices. I personally still love using the Xtand for my iPhone, which is Just Mobile's original mobile accessory that started it all and it's worth every penny. The packaging alone had me excited to try out the bumper. The AluFrame, which is available in either silver or black, comes with a set of pretty decent front and back screen protectors. The back comes as a 3 piece set but I was able to apply the protectors without any problems. Once that mission was successful, I immediately ripped the bumper out of the packaging to get a feel for the bumper.
My initial impressions were just what I thought they would be, simply wow. The strong one piece aluminum bumper felt great in the hand, and the integrated aluminum volume button rocker was a stunning piece of design work. The attention to detail was so amazing that the Draco 5 was the only other bumper I can think of that matches the elegant craftsmanship of the AluFrame. The bumper is completely streamlined to the iPhone design that it even has chamfered edges just like the phone itself. Boy was I hoping my first impression would last and that I can actually make a phone call with this bumper installed. I guess I'm always holding out hope that there's an all-aluminum bumper out there that doesn't lose signal strength. More on signal performance later though.
The AluFrame is two separate L shaped pieces that is hinged together to create the stunning one piece design. For the few weeks of using the case, the construction of the bumper never deteriorated and always held its form. One feature, well non-feature I was happy to see was the need for no tiny screws. With most fancy bumpers, you need tiny screws and tiny hex keys just to close the case together. The clasp feature on the bottom left of the bumper was a brilliant idea.
Installing the phone into the bumper was effortless as well. You simply just place the phone into the bottom part, bring around the L-shaped piece, and clasp right together. The fitment was perfect and there was no wiggle room at all. It’s also worth noting my Bodyguardz Pure tempered glass protector worked flawlessly with the bumper. The inside is lined well enough to protect your iPhone from scratches, but was it well enough to protect your phone from horrible signal strength? I know, the suspense is killing you! We will get into that shortly, but I’d like to give you all a tour around the bumper.
You are guaranteed to get a very generous lay on table design for the front and back. Even with the tempered glass screen protector, I felt very comfortable laying the case face first. Since the phone sits inside the grooves of the lining, the phone keeps a very slim profile and never felt slippery. The included screen protectors became oily and filled with fingerprints over a short time but most would rather have that than a scratched iPhone.
On the left side of the AluFrame you will find the best volume rocker seen to date in my opinion. They work just like they look, perfect. The detail is outstanding and the tactile feedback was simply awesome. The cutout for the mute/silent switch wasn’t too recessed and was very easy switch on and off.
The top of the bumper features the same form of protection with a covered sleep/wake button that offers the same amazing tactile feedback. It sounds crazy, but most manufacturers can never get this simple feature right. It can’t be that hard to design functional buttons, right? I marvel at companies that release cases knowing the buttons don’t function properly. It was nice to see one big opening at the bottom so most headphones should work just fine.
The AluFrame is arguably one of the best looking cases we have ever reviewed, period. From the front and back, the bumper blends in with the iPhone beautifully and got so many compliments everywhere I went. Unfortunately, and actually quite depressing, the iPhone instantly dropped out of LTE coverage (Jacksonville, FL) and into 4G mode once the bumper is installed. Back and forth and back and forth the signals went. Sometimes it was so bad that the phone would drop into no service. What? No service? Now I understand not everyone lives in a LTE area, but you are guaranteed to get frustrated while using this bumper.
Most aluminum cases I reviewed would drop a bar or two at most, but the AluFrame dropped an easy 3 bars and bounced all over the place. My battery instantly took a hit and the percentage dropped like I was watching a countdown timer. It was such a shame because the design is simply stunning. In fact, we are actually more concerned why these companies release such flawed products. For the purpose of the review however, I did look past the fact the coverage was unbearable and gave it a steady walk through. The case is in the same price range as most high end bumpers coming in at just under $70. I’m usually a positive individual when it comes to reviews, but even with it being one of the best looking bumpers to date, the AluFrame is something we can not recommend.