I may or may not have had a case-gasm just now. Why would I say such absurdity you ask? Only because for the last two weeks, I've been testing out Draco Design's latest and greatest case for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 - the Ventare A. This glorious piece of hybrid awesomeness is full of one-of-kind angular detailed curves that’ll most likely get you allturnt up. Whatever that means.
The company has been consistently tweaking its original all-aluminum Draco IV bumper case since its inception back in 2011, and the most recent result its DracoDesign's most ambitious one yet. With the Italian superbike powerhouse Ducati on board as a co-developer and official brand licensor, DracoDesign'sVentare A is the beautiful result of this joint madness. One part machined aerospace-grade aluminum, one part polycarbonate plastic. The two form a hybrid build that is said will not degrade reception like DracoDesign's previous all-aluminum offerings. Catch the full review down below.
It may be an official Ducati licensed accessory, but don't expect to find the Ventare A at a Ducati gift shop. Instead, it's being offered through DracoDesign's authorized resellers such as TekCases as well as directly from Draco's own online store. The Ventare A is not some cheap thrill either. So be prepared to pay for that special double shot of faux adrenaline as it'll set you back $100, which is $10 more than what you'll pay for the Draco 5. The VentareA's color selection consists of white, black, silver, gold, gray and red. We opted for red as it compliments the Space Gray iPhone 5s with that signature Ducati red and black. But be aware that no matter which color you choose, you'llstill have black-colored top and bottom sections with the Ducati branding in white lettering plastered on top of it instead of the Draco logo.
Supposedly inspired by one of Ducati's super-stallions, the Ventare A features all kinds of angular curves and tapered edges that would make a sane person go full retard only from trying to figure out how it all works. Obviously it requires no ignition key, but it does take time to know your way around handling one. And I say this because when you pick up your iPhone after you've finished installing the Ventare A on it, you'll probably want to set it back down shortly after. It's like riding one of Ducati'ssuperbikes for the first time not ever having ridden a bike or bicycle once in your whole entire life. Quite terrifying to say the least. Draco Design insists that the source of its inspiration for the Ventare A has been Ducati's 1199 PanigaleSuperbike, but I can't put my finger on it.
The experience of using the Ventare A as a daily bumper case can be summarized as obnoxiously intolerable and super awesome all at once. So apart from not being comfortable to hold, the Ventare A does compensate for the lack of ergonomic and simplistic comfort with a mind-bending design and aggressive styling only achievable when you put information into a 5-axis CNC machining robot after it has been carefully programmed by Japanese and Italian design engineers. I would say however that the Ventare A’s insane inward curvature design, narrower midsection, and overall flat aluminum side rails definitely make it more pleasing to hold compared to the Draco 5 we reviewed late last year. And like the Draco 5, there is not a single bad angle to the Ventare A.
What does it really mean to own an officially licensed Ducati case though? Other than Draco Design having the right to out the Ducati logo on the case along with a few other Ducati branded add-ins like a neck strap you most likely wouldn't use to hang your iPhone around your neck, and a cool metal Ducati racing emblem adhesive - nothing really. If you're a fan of the name and styling, there's really no point in arguing. Plus it's not like the Ventare A is available in plain Draco Design uniform which is disappointing especially if you're not a fan of that whiteDucati logo being in your face.
Another accessory you'll find inside the packaging is this black aluminum mini stylus which you can put on your keychain. The cool thing about it is that it also doubles as your screw driver tool, bonus points for that one. You'll also find that there two extra screws stored inside the hybrid stylus tool casing.
Thin interior silicone shock-absorbing pads keep the iPhone from contacting the aluminum of the Ventare A and add some protection in case of a drop. I find it hilarious that all the integrated button controls have been MacGyvered into position and held on by clear sellotape. While I prefer Element Case's more permanent rubber button lining solution it uses in its premium metal cases, I can't really complain about this as it has held up quite well with use.
Unlike previous Draco cases we've reviewed, the Ventare A is made out of four individual parts. Installing the Ventare A isn't difficult, however, it does require screwing together all four parts of the bumper using a total of four screws on either ends which can take a few minutes out of your time. Pro tip: If you want to save time you can unscrew just the top black plastic section and insert your iPhone into the rest of the case since the two sides have a little bit of flexibility to them without having to unscrew all four screws and deconstruct the whole case. Though we don't suggest cutting corners as this could potentially damage your case if you're not extremely careful with how far you bend the parts apart during installation.
Much similar to Element Case'sRonin and Solace series of cases but differently positioned, the VentareA'spolycarbonate plastic parts make up the top and bottom portions of the case while the sides are entirely made out of aluminum. And because of this combination of materials, I was happy to find that I haven't found any reception degradation during my time testing the Ventare A with the iPhone 5s for nearly two weeks. Unlike our Draco 5 reception experience, I was still able to get fullLTE and WiFi reception, as well as accurate GPS tracking when using the Ventare A.
The Ventare A shares some element identity with both of DracoDesign's most recent Draco 5 as well as the Draco IV when it comes to its industrial design. Instead of using the same polished trim of the Draco 5, the Ventare A has a uniformed mono-finish. It's also edgier than the more elegantDraco 5 in terms of styling with its side panel fins that extends outwards towards the top and bottom creating this aerodynamic-looking broad wingspan that looks awesome from all angles. But nothing is left to be a simple shape. You'll find that from both sides of the case, the aluminum sides start to taper off nearing the edges which enhances the overall extremely slim profile of the case whilst also giving the Ventare A its unique Draco characteristic.
And of course, we have the opened-back design of the Ventare A which allows the back side of iPhone to show through the bumper-style casing. Aside from respecting the original industrial design of the iPhone, the Ventare A does leave your iPhone vulnerable and unfortunately it doesn't come with a protective clear film for the back like we always complained about. Nevertheless, the exposed back design of the Ventare A also leaves plenty of room for personalization in the form of skins and backplates. You can use a number of different options to help keep the back of your device protected while also adding additional grip.
We always recommend a Trunket wood skin if you feel like being rustic, or any one of the amazing Element Case backplate skins like the genuine tactical carbon fiber Attack backplate, the supple Ultrasuede backplate or even the luxurious genuine leather backplate Element Case offers. Of course you can use anything you'd like with the Ventare A as it's compatible with all kinds of skins including tempered glass screen protectors.
Part of what makes the Ventare A great is the fact that it is a bumper case meaning that it lets you show off and fully appreciate the native design of the iPhone from the back, which needless to say looks absolutely stunning. And that's exactly why you would want to purchase one in the first place.
The Ventare A does provide a raised edge around the back and front, but it's a minimal lip at only 1mm-thick that would help prevent your iPhone from scratching or from coming in contact with a flat surface. Because it's such a minimal height difference at both sides, the Ventare A features a really slick and slim profile that you notice immediately when you hold it or when you set it on a table.
One of my most favorite design aspect of the Ventare A has got to be that incredible exhaust pipe-esque grille down the bottom. These definitely aren't your ordinary speaker and mic grilles. Ironically it sort of looks a lot like the air intake grilles of a Lamborghini, and not like anything you'd find on a Ducatimotorbike. But please correct me if I'm wrong in saying that. Nonetheless, the way these black polycarbonate parts integrate with the rest of the aluminum is remarkably well done. I really like how the corner edges of these pieces intentionally protrude out where the screws screw into place. And you'd think that with such a pointy edge this whole design choice for an edgy contrasting depth would dig into your hands, but it surprisingly doesn't.
But there is a slight problem with that magnificent looking grille. And that's highly recessed Lightning connector and audio ports. That being said, we were able to easily fit Apple's micro-USB to Lightning connector adapter and pretty much every 3.5mm headphone plug we could find which is great. What we couldn't fit were bulky connectors, but isn't that the obvious drawback with these connectors in the first place? Sure it would be nice to see all cases have extra large port openings, but often times it ends up ruining the aesthetics and structural integrity of the case.
At the top we have this really nice looking chamfered aluminum sleep/wake button that it extremely tactile and feels as if you're actually pressing on the bare button itself.
On the left side, the Ventare A features more integrated metal buttons including a mute switch. Each button including the mute/silent switch, or should I say volume rocker, works as you'd expect and provides the same amazing tactile feedback as the original iPhone 5s buttons.
Unfortunately that dreaded nano-SIM card cutout slot is back yet again. Why it's there is beyond me. It's ridiculously unnecessary and it only hurts the sleek design of the VentareA's sculpted incurved side railing.
As with any Draco Design case, you'll have to sacrifice comfort in exchange for an untraditional, computerized form factor. As much as we're impressed by how the Ventare A looks, we blame those aggressive curved arches that spread out for being the reason why it's uncomfortable and unkind to the palm when held. It by all means isn't as bad it it may sound, and you probably can get used to the odd new shape which your iPhone now sports having the Ventare A encasing it and redefining its otherwise clean and minimalist design. It's also worth noting that these wide bottom edges impede on the iPhone's manageable 4-inch form factor making it more difficult to reach the top edges of the touchscreen using your thumb.
If I'm honest, my pet peeve with DracoDesign's moving forward with their case designs is that they've unfortunately lost their touch at creating extraordinary aluminum finishes to their cases. The VentareA's anodized aluminum finish is still very good and has that smooth and refined grainy metallic texture to it up close, yet it isn't as ethereal as it was once before when we reviewed DracoDesign's first bumper case for the iPhone 4, the Draco IV. And then came the white version which really left an impression with its solid, high-gloss car paint type of a finish we compared to a sexy whitePorsche. We suppose the difference in finish qualities comes down to sand or bead-blasting teqnuiques which have changed since the time when DracoDesign'sDraco IV came to light and it's a shame, albeit it's also a personal preference.
You'll be glad to know however that the Ventare A will be available in a white-colored aluminum finish as well later this month. It is a bit confusing that the Ventare A comes in this matte aluminum type of surface finish when it should have had a more ceramic-like metal glossy finish and texture to relate more to its Ducati-inspired origins instead of following Apple's signature aluminum finish.
I'll be the first to say that I really fancy the VentareA's industrial meets sporty design and sharp bold styling, but personally I'd rather spend my money on and use the Sector 5 if I were to pick an aluminum hybrid bumper case to use on my iPhone 5s. It's clearly more expensive, but it's the second go-to premium bumper case if you're looking for a tactical-themed one.
The Ventare A is the type of case for people who don't want to play it safe. It is one of the more uniquely designed cases we've had the chance to review simply due to its daring complexity. If you want to be different and go up against the grain of contemporary cases that follow very strict lines to please the desire to hold a case that will feel familiar to you like it still encases the iconic shape of the iPhone; then I think Draco Design nailed it with the Ventare A.
The Ventare A is worth getting for the sole purpose of its unique styling that brings some excitement to the whole idea of using a case which many use purely as a means of personalization. And like we've said countless of times before, owning and using one of these Draco Design cases is firstly a matter of showing off - whether it be for your own personal satisfaction (not sexually of course), or simply wanting to impress others with your awesome taste in iPhone accessories. Whatever it may be, we think DracoDesign'sVentare A is an ace of a hybrid aluminum bumper case but it's all show and no practicality - which is the key ingredient of what makes a case great and physically enjoyable to use. We wouldn't go out of our way to recommend at $100 as we don't think it offers greater value compared to the Draco 5. It isn't comfortable to hold, feels slippery and on top of it all it's too expensive for what it's worth.