What if you could take Spigen's ultra tough and ruggedized Tough Armor and Slim Armor S cases and turn them into more slimmer protective cases that would better showcase your iPhone 5s or iPhone 5 while also enabling you to customize them using a slew of colorful graphic art designs? Well, you can and there's a new case that does just that. Spigen's Ultra Hybrid is a case that combines the best features of the Tough Armor case with a transparent see-through back design all while reducing the thickness and bulk of Spigen's toughest and most protective case ever. But there's more to it, so be sure to make your way down below to our full review of the Ultra Hybrid!
Spoiler alert, this case is ultra-fantastic. But I'm also afraid and really bummed out to say that the Ultra Hybrid isn't the perfect case. It comes really close to being that perfect case however, which says a lot. And in the beginning, I felt that it was the case that had absolutely no flaws whatsoever and that my review would only consist of high praise. Alas, in the month or so that I've been using the Ultra Hybrid with my iPhone 5s, the case started to show wear and it was inevitably really.
But even so, the Ultra Hybrid shouldn't be passed up. I say nay nay, because at just $11, this case is most definitely a great purchase and a one that will see good use until you device that it's time to purchase a bran new copy. Yep, you'll want another one like it because it's that good. Of course it's all a matter of personal taste, opinion and all that follows. What we may like might not be your cup of tea, but we think the Ultra Hybrid is the Coca-Cola of teas. Who doesn't like Coca-Cola?!
The first thing that will catch your eye would be the Ultra Hybrid's centerpiece transparent back side. A clear glossy polycarbonate panel protects the iPhone's aluminum and glass rear whilst showcasing its two-tone design and native color for all to see and appreciate. Spigen also makes an identical Ultra Hybrid case for the iPhone 5c which makes a lot of sense as with it you can always enjoy your colorful iPhone from behind, however, the case does cover up the iPhone 5c's front colored polycarbonate periphery and only comes in black at the moment. It's worth noting that there is no watermarking/oil spots to be seen in-between the clear polycarbonate panel when it sits against the back of the iPhone.
Spigen's Ultra Hybrid will set you back $25 if you purchase it directly from Spigen, and for some reason Spigen's cases are almost always much cheaper to buy on sites like Amazon where the Ultra Hybrid only costs $11 and still includes all the little bonus goodies Spigen includes with the case. And those are a screen protector, two black and white back graphic skin inlays as well as four other colorful ones bundled together called Design Graphics.
These interchangeable graphic skins are essentially printed photo paper inlays that you can easily swap and insert into the back of the Ultra Hybrid case when you feel like changing the look of your case. Not only that, Spigen has designed some of these graphic skins to match the dynamic wallpapers found in iOS 7 which creates a cool complimenting scheme carried over to the back of your iPhone. You can choose from four different design patterns which come in four different colors. We have Spigen's Diamonds Design Graphic skins, but you can also pick up additional pattern sets which Spigen sells separately for $7. So if you get bored looking at your iPhone's two-tone aluminum design, now you've got plenty of reasons to customize the look of your Ultra Hybrid case.
Switching between skins is really easy, quick and they fit flawlessly into the back looking as if they were there by default. But, when you do decide to put in one of these back skins into the Ultra Hybrid, we found that the skin does alter the snug fit ever so slightly. You'll notice that if you squeeze on the sides of the case which will have a bit of give to them which is otherwise not present when the interior back inlay skin is removed. But really it's an insignificant little caveat with no affect on the performance of the case.
As you can tell, the Ultra Hybrid is essentially based off of Spigen's Tough Armor and Slim Armor S case designs with the exception of it being thinner across the board. The Ultra Hybrid's volume and power buttons are covered by these flat, blocky shaped buttons which are extremely tactile to use.
Down south, the Ultra Hybrid's port openings are fairly wide and accommodating. The Lightning connector opening is especially large to allow various third party connectors including Apple's various Lightning connector adapters, except of course for that extra bulky 30-pin to Lightning connector adapter that is. You'll also be able to easily dock and charge your iPhone with Twelve South's versatile HiRise Lightning docking stand.
By now you probably have figured out the Ultra Hybrid and what type of case it is. You'd be right in saying that it's a hybrid case...obviously. Although the Ultra Hybrid is a single layer case compared to the Tough Armor and Slim Armor S cases, it does feature a hard but clear polycarbonate back which is co-moulded with a bumper that's fully made out of a slightly flexible TPU material which provides you with good grip and your iPhone with shock absorption protection. Not only that, the Ultra Hybrid's interior also features Spigen's reinforced corner protection. Like the Tough Armor and Slip Armor S cases, the Ultra Hybrid has four air cushioned corners Spigen likes to call "air gap technology" - which essentially leaves a pocket of empty crumple zone that when hit upon impact, the corner will act like a bumper in that it'll absorb the shock by flexing before it reaches the iPhone.
The Ultra Hybrid is the least protective case out of the two Tough Armor and Slim Armor S hybrid cases, however, it will offer a fair amount of minimal drop protection thanks to its borderline minimalistic design. Like any good Spigen case, the Ultra Hybrid has a lip that crates a protective perimeter keeping the iPhone's glass display surface from contacting a flat surface when placed face down. This also helps prevent glass damage like scratching and even worse, cracking upon impact. With that being said though, the Ultra Hybrid is keeping things to a minimum in that it's a really slim and sleek case with a slender profile all around which means that if you tend to drop your device more often than not, you should look into getting a more protective case like the Slim Armor S.
Speaking about the Ultra Hybrid's slim design, it's one of Spigen's most comfortable cases we have ever used on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 as a result. It also doesn't alter the iPhone's chiseled design very much at all - front to back tapered edges give the iPhone subtle meaty grabbing points that are also a little more pleasing than just holding the bare metal body of the iPhone. It may not have any soft-touch rubbery coatings that offer fantastic grip texture or be as durable as some of Spigen's more elite cases, but what the Ultra Hybrid does is be a really enjoyable case to use that highlights most of the iPhone's original design without compromising on decent protection.
An easy to miss little design detail Spigen has made to the Ultra Hybrid are these little raised corner points that raise the back side of the case preventing the clear hard plastic panel from rubbing up against the surface and causing it to scuff and scratch, which is a really welcome detail that should help keep the Ultra Hybrid's transparent design looking clean. For the most part the Ultra Hybrid's back plastic doesn't get scratched from being placed on a table thanks to these raised corner edges.
But as we mentioned earlier, there's still a problem. The clear polycarbonate is really easy to scratch and it shows scuff marks and other little scratches without too much effort. Simply putting your iPhone into your pocket with another object will do the job in scratching the Ultra Hybrid's plastic. It's no wonder the Ultra Hybrid comes protected with interior and exterior plastic films which you'll need to remove before you use the case. When such plastic comes protected with clear film, it means that it easily gets scratched up and the Ultra Hybrid is literally a case in point. I noticed a few scuffs and scratch marks on my case after only a few days of use, but I'm most certainly sure that these weren't caused by simply laying the case on a flat surface such a desk.
Next minor issue we have with the Ultra Hybrid is that unlike the Tough Armor case, the Ultra Hybrid's thin bottom layer right underneath the home button flexes more than the rest of the case when contacting the thumb - which could potentially lead to a permanent and unattractive droop which will expose bits of the iPhone's aluminum bezel. But so far the Ultra Hybrid's TPU bumper-like material is holing up very well and if Spigen's anti-stretch claims are realistic, there shouldn't be any future issues with material flexing.
To augment the gold iPhone 5s even more, Spigen has just recently released a golden colored Ultra Hybrid case which the company calls "Cafe Brown". You can also find it in black and in gray flavors.
Spigen's Ultra Hybrid case for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 may not be as perfect as we had hoped and wanted it to be, and while its clear polcarbonate rear panel will eventually show scratches, we think that for the price it's the sort of case we simply wouldn't want to pass up. The Ultra Hybrid's see-though back along with its awesome slim form factor makes it a really great and fairly protective case that doesn't cover up your iPhone's true beauty. If you can grab it from Amazon at nearly half its retail value, you'll be getting a big bang for you buck considering the Ultra Hybrid also includes a screen protector as well as multiple interchangeable back graphic skins that only add more value to the experience of using the Ultra Hybrid. And for that reason, we think the pros outweigh the cons.