We all knew metal iPhone cases were a growing premium luxury for those who weren't all that impressed with regular old plasticky protection. Aluminum bumper cases are quickly becoming a big part of the case industry and we're now starting to feel that novelty wearing off. There's no stopping the aluminum bumper bullet train. It's gotten to the point where we want to see something really awesome and different. Patchworks certainly answers that exact demand with the Alloy X Wood. As the name implies, this bumper is in indeed part wood part metal and 100% full of awesomeness. Haven't heard of Patchworks before? We haven't either, so be sure to hop the break for the full review!
Look at it. All sophisticated, educated looking just laying there. Who would have though a bit of wood paneling can bring a rather industrial aluminum case into gaining more respect from strangers. Heck, if you've got a Rolls Royce, this is the case you'd be wanting to use on your iPhone. The price? Expect to pay a premium for premium materials, that's $149.99 to be exact. It'll fit your extravagant life style perfectly.
You can find the Alloy X Wood in multiple variations including different types of woods and for those who can't stand the look of wood, there's also the Alloy X CF which substitutes natural wood for synthetic carbon fiber. The Alloy X Wood that our very good friends over at Tekcases sent us to review is of the silver aluminum and teak wood variant that fits both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 respectively.
What you get for your money is actually impressive at first glance. You'll be greeted with a rather lightweight wooden box as the packaging containing a few extras along with the obvious Alloy X Wood bumper. I don't think I've seen such impressive packaging for a case such as this before. As an unknown company, Patchworks had to catch as much attention as possible. And making such unique packaging to showcase their product totally worked. With that said, this is about as exciting as it gets.
To be fair, the Alloy X Wood least impresses with rather dull and inconspicuous wood trim. And when you've got wood representing your whole entire concept, I was unimpressed by the quality of the wood and how Patchworks, for all intents and purposes, patched up the job with the Alloy X Wood bumper. Before experiencing the Alloy X Wood first hand, I was certain to find some really exquisite wood trim being a part of the case's design. Because after all, that is why you'd want to get the Alloy X Wood bumper from the start.
What I've found was paper thin wood that was glued onto the sides and top of the bumper like an afterthought skin that will eventually peel away. Is this even worth the asking price tag? Not in my mind it isn't. That dreaded SIM card cutout in the wood only makes things look a lot worse. The wood finish feels a bit too grainy and rough to the touch as well.
Why not construct the Alloy X Wood with actual wood parts that will also help with letting reception past thru more easily? It doesn't make one bit of sense to purchase an expensive aluminum bumper such as this to only find out you have some poor, paper thin wood skin glued on it for decoration. Does it still look exquisite? Yes of course, but when looked at from far away. I won't knock this bumper of how thin it is because I actually enjoy slim cases and so do many others. In fact, the Alloy X Wood is so insanely thin that you can actually bend it apart very easily and without much force. So much that this is actually the way you install it onto the iPhone. It's rather simple, quick and only takes two phillips screws to secure on the bottom piece of the bumper. The noob move Patchworks made was not using more reliable torx screws.
Internal padding is also done poorly with barley any kind of padded material. All there is are four corners lined with a see-thru-thin layer of what looks like plastic or silicone. By no means is the Alloy X Wood a good form of protection against drops. It also offers very minimal lay-on-the-table designed edge which will barely protect the front and back glass of the iPhone.
The Alloy X Wood isn't a hybrid aluminum bumper and the wood as we found out is only decorative trim. So how does that translate into reception performance? Well there is some reception degradation as expected, albeit it is very minimal surprisingly. The extreme thinness of the aluminum might have helped a bit too. I've experienced a steady drop of one bar around the home. A dB signal test for those of you reception peepers is as follows. My signal was around -95dB without a case on and around -104dB with the Alloy X Wood bumper installed on an iPhone 4S with AT&T. As always, your mileage will vary with these types of cases. And if you live in an area with low reception, you should always avoid these types of aluminum bumper cases or look at hybrid ones like the ElementCase lineup.
Since the Alloy X Wood is such a slim aluminum bumper, in fact it's the slimmest aluminum bumper we've ever reviewed, it feels amazing to hold because it feels like there's nothing there. Your iPhone 4S' isn't engulfed with a thick layer of metal, but rather a thin layer of aluminum and wood. And that isn't half bad to be honest. It has that feeling of it not being the center of attention when looking at your iPhone straight on. I'm beginning to think the Vapor Pro is quite selfish in comparison.
On the cutout side of things, the Alloy X Wood has a slim enough body with extra large cutouts to accommodate just about any 3.5mm headphone plug and charging cable plug you may have. The same goes for all of the buttons which are all easily accessible even if you've got chubby fingers.
The Alloy X Wood includes a front and back real wood skin that neatly matches the side trim and further pushes the envelope of naturalness. To be fair though, you're better of using a Trunket wood skin instead as it feels much better. Unlike the Patchworks wood skins which are available to be purchase separately, the Trunket skins actually look and feel like wood with all due respect, albeit chances are that none of the Trunket wood finishes will perfectly match the Alloy X Wood bumpers as well as the Patchwroks branded wood skins.
While the Alloy X Wood aluminum bumper will undoubtedly appeal to yacht and croquet aficionados, it isn't the right fit for the average Joe at such an expensive price point and with very little to give in quality. You won't find any special qualities with the Alloy X Wood that you do get with cases from ElementCase at a similar price range. Even though it has that wow element at first glance, it's just another so and so quality bumper that isn't nearly good enough for such a high price tag. Our advice is for you not to waste your money on the Alloy X Wood. $150 for this?! It must be some kind of joke.