For those not too familiar with Thule, don't worry, these guys aren’t known for their iPhone or laptop accessories that much. To be honest Thule is one of the superior worldwide companies that produces some of the finest outdoor equipment. I’m talking bike rack and roof rack type products. Take a look at their website and you’ll see what we are talking about. Well recently the company launched their 2nd generation of iPhone 5 and MacBook accessories with the Gauntlet 2.0 series and we here at Gadgetmac were very excited to give these cases a test drive. Want to get a closer look at the quality of protection your precious Apple gear deserves? Jump right into the review and see for yourself!
Thule was kind enough to send us a few of its $35 Gauntlet 2.0 iPhone 5 cases (black and blue), as well as the $50 Gauntlet 2.0 Envelope Case sleeve for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. We were told the Envelope Case, which is made for the 13-inch MacBook Air, would also fit the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Long story short, it did. Thule makes a zippered version for the fatter MacBook Pros, but not in this envelope-style of a sleeve. We found it a little strange that the actual Thule website does not promote these new products but instead the Thule directs you to the Apple Retail website to purchase.
I personally find it always intriguing to get an item to review that just instantly screams high quality. Being familiar with the companies branding also helped with the excitement from my initial impressions. I’ll give you guys and gals a little breakdown of each case, but lets start with the iPhone Gauntlet case first.
The Gauntlet case is your typical snap on style case, but it wasn’t the style of case that was so practically exciting, but the actual material being used. It was the molded textured contours of the case that made it stand out from other cases I’ve used for the iPhone 5. The second you slip the case onto your phone it feels like the case is magnetized to your hand. Seriously. The grip of this Thule case is right on par with for example the Magpul Field Case, which is an Editors' Choice Award-winning case.
Nothing comes inside the packaging which was a little disappointing to see for a $35 case but it’s not the first company to ship just a standalone case. We were sent the black and blue colors but according to the website there is also a white variation as well. I would think the white would easily discolor however from the rubbery soft touch material used for the Gauntlet case.
Even with the Gauntlet being just a simple snap-on case, it reminds me of the quality polymer used on the Field Case. Sure it’s two different style of cases, but in terms of grip, there isn’t too many choices out there that can compare. Both cases are slim, vibrant, and made out of superior material that can’t be matched. Like all snap cases, they do not offer much drop protection on the top and bottom of the phone. But if your into this style of cases though, your probably not one to drop your phone too often. I was very satisfied with the one huge cutout for the volume buttons and mute switch. It’s such a pain when companies try to make separate cutouts. Please stop if your reading this. The separate cutouts makes the volume buttons feel too recessed and the mute switch just a pain to get to. The one cutout Thule incorporates makes for a more pleasant user experience.
With top and bottom areas exposed, it is obvious that any adaptor or 3rd party headphones would work with the case and it’s worth noting that the top part of the case doesn’t affect pressing the power button. In my experience, some snap cases come up way too high and make pressing the home button very troublesome. The soft touch sides feel great in the hands and the finish didn't pick up any fingerprints even after a few weeks of abuse.
On the back of the case you have an oversized cutout for the camera and flash. If you have read my reviews, you know I’m a stickler for seeing the aluminum of the phone exposed. Personal preference sure, but please leave me a comment if you don’t think for example the cutout on the Spigen Saturn doesn’t look more streamlined and clean.
In all honesty, the oversized camera cutout was the only negative I could find with this case. And that’s fetching for a negative. The Gauntlet is a little pricey sure, but so is every other case you can buy at an Apple Store. In fact, if I was to recommend a case from the Apple website (or your local Apple Store), I would definitely get the Gauntlet over any Speck, Incase, or Tech21 case you see.
After a few weeks of happily using the Gauntlet case, another package arrived from Thule. What do we have here? An elegant, sophisticated carrying case for my laptop? It sure is. Since purchasing the Retina MacBook Pro, it’s been quite difficult finding a quality carrying case for travel purposes or even just to take outside the house. The Gauntlet 2.0 Envelope Case sleeve is made out of an EVA foam material and felt amazing in the hands while keeping a slim-line profile. EVA, which stands for ethylene vinyl acetate, is a polymer material (similar to the Field Case) that has a softness feel but at the same time a rugged toughness too. The stitch-free, tapered edged design seemed to good to be true.
The Gauntlet 2.0 Envelope Case sleeve is advertised for both the Air and Retina models but I’ve always been skeptical with companies marketing their cases this way. Usually when cases aren’t molded to your particular laptop model, there is a tendency for the laptop to move around and possibly scratch your computer. Well no scratching here. There is nothing metal about this sleeve. Again, this is too good to be true.
The top opening is effortless with just a simple, but strong Velcro flap with the laptop slipping in and out of the sleeve like I can slip out of my tailor made suit jackets. I truly wish more companies would think about designing more products this way. Leave all your bells and whistles in your office meetings and just make something that just works. Some might not like the Velcro for the simple fact it might wear out over time but I really don’t see that happening any time soon and lasting the entire life span of your laptop.
With the exterior being such a masterpiece I was hoping for the best interior as well. The inside features a nylon-lined interior that felt super smooth and didn’t give my gut a bad feeling about scratching the computer. The little white barcode stitching on the inside was a little strange and was instantly ripped out of the sleeve.
I’ve marveled the fact this sleeve is going to be very hard to tear away from my retina beauty, but there were a few quirks that didn’t sit well with me. One of the first things that bothered me was the comfort of carrying the sleeve just by itself. Yes I did mention it felt great in the hand, but it all depended on how the sleeve was carried. As you can see from the pictures the bottom has a very sharp tapered bottom. It just felt annoying in the palm of your hand when carried for a longer period of time. For example I carried it around to a few meetings downtown where I live and wish I had a bag to toss the sleeve in halfway through the day.
Secondly, when I did have the opportunity to thrown it in a bag, the sleeve got a few creases indented right into the exterior and took forever to mold back into shape. Some creases still haven’t come out. Now I know this is minimal negatives, but downsides where hard to come by with this sleeve. If your familiar with the Thule brand name, you’ll know the big white branding is just who they are so the oversized lettering on the sleeve wasn’t an eye sore.
After almost a full month using and abusing both the iPhone and MacBook Gauntlet cases, it is definitely safe to say spending the $35 for the iPhone case is a solid choice, and the $50 Gauntlet 2.0 Enevelope Case sleeve is a great investment and companion for your MacBook. Within that month of reviewing, I was also in the process of trying out other cases but always ended up slapping on the Gauntlet. The black sits pretty against the white iPhone and the blue just pops and is summertime keeper. Now I know some don’t have the luxury of an Apple Store so close to home, but if you do, take a trip to your local store and give these two cases a worthy look at. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed and find this review spot on with the products Thule has blessed us all with.