Get ready to meet the M2 by 4th Design. The same company that has brought us one of the most wanted aluminum bumper cases for the iPhone 4, the Blade. The Blade bumper was designed by Tiger Design, which just so happen to have started a new brand called 4th Design in order to produce something different. The M2 is the finished product, a full CNC machined aluminum case for the iPhone 4 that like its younger brother, could very well be a case Optimus Prime would use himself. Designed deep within Korea, this is one spectacular aluminum case which may very well be the next best thing to the Blade bumper. Does the M2 tickle your aluminum fancy? If so, you might want to jump past the break for the full review!
In the 4th / Tiger Design fashion, the M2 comes with pre-installed foam pads lining each corner on the inside fo the case to help absorb shock in case you drop your iPhone 4, as well as keep it protected from getting scratched by the aluminum construction of the M2 itself. Similar to the Blade bumper, the M2 is designed so it does not come in contact with your iPhone 4's front and back glass and letting is slide on a rail system in which only the top and bottom parts of the iPhone 4's metal band are touching the case. This means you can use any screen protector without it bubbling up. The M2 does have a slider style design to it with a little bottom piece that screws on using only 2 hex screws on each side with only one extra backup screw and a hex tool included. Reminiscent of the Xcel Case and the Rokbed in more ways than one.
Installing the M2 case is very simple and takes less than a minute to get done. Both the top and bottom parts interconnect flawlessly creating a seamless bind without any tiny gaps whatsoever. 4th Design does offer the M2 case in 11 different color variations including non-two-tone schemes like the one we've got here. But I really think the two color combinations really adds to the uniqueness of this aluminum case. I would have liked to see a smaller logo engraved into the back instead of this big "4th" logo. Also, it's worth mentioning that even though the cutout for the back facing camera is well executed and does look good, the color of the shiny M2's finish will affect any images you take using the LED flash with a blue tint.
The M2 case feels great in the hand, and just like the Blade, the amount of grip just oozes all over the place. First off, the design of the M2 provides a great comfortable grip with very slim sides to let you rest your fingers. Further more, 4th Design has created this amazing looking micro pattern using the CNC machine that has created a circular pattern that formed sort of a net pattern that also adds grip, but even more of a visual sexyness to the case. Even while the anodized exterior has a shiny finish, the raw look and feel of the machined aluminum surface is like no other aluminum case I've reviewed before. I really like what Tiger Design and 4th Design have done with their aluminum bumpers and cases.
The iPhone 4 fits inside the M2 nicely and slides in like butter. Overall, the M2 is a slim case but with the exception of the bulging sides and bottom parts. There is almost no front lay-on-the-table edge to protect your iPhone 4's screen. Unlike the Blade's incorporation of dedicated volume and power buttons, the M2 has veered off the path of the complex details and instead there are wide cutouts for all the buttons of the iPhone 4 including a wide top opening for the sleep.wake button and headphone port. Having said that, it's extremely easy to press each and every button while you'll be able to fit any slim 3.5mm headphone jack into the top.
Fitting 3rd party cables into the dock connector port could be an issue. Chunky dock connectors will not fit while the Apple cable fits in just right. Right above the dock connector cutout are two channel tunnels that help direct sound towards you rather than having the sound fire downwards. It works perfectly and improved the sound volume as well as your own voice while talking.
Like all aluminum cases, you need to expect some signal degradation while using the M2 case. In order to combat any reception issues, 4th Design has implemented long cutouts in the case on both sides to help avoid blocking the iPhone 4's antenna from reception and also allow easy access to your SIM slot. While using the M2 case I noticed a drop in signal that would cause at least 1 bar to drop every time I would make a call. More specifically, when using the field test method of a more true signal reading, I would usually get about a -95db to -97db signal strength without using the M2. With the M2 installed, my signal strength would be about -104db to 108db. So that's not a very significant loss in reception I would say, but it's definitely something to take into consideration if you live in a low-reception area.
The M2 might not be to everyone's liking, but if you do happen to like how different it looks, this is one solid aluminum case for the iPhone 4 with a $79 price tag to match its unique looks. Anyone should know that aluminum cases are mostly for show, and 4th Design's M2 delivers a spectacular.