Aluminum cases made for the iPhone are now ubiquitous. The novelty has long worn off, but there are still those who seek that perfect metallic case. When it comes to aluminum cases, the Vapor Pro by ElementCase is the most talked about, most wanted one of all. And like its brother to the esteemed Vapor name, the Vapor Pro is a hybrid. Reception issues are a thing of the past. Don't let the hybrid moniker fool you though, because the Vapor Pro has more aluminum to satisfy your desire of prestigious materials. It all sounds perfect, but is the Vapor Pro worth all the hype surrounding it? Follow the saga down below as we continue to bust myths, compare the two giants and let you in on the action!
Our good friends over at Tekcases were awesome enough to let us test drive the Vapor Pro in the Spectra edition. It's compatible with the iPhone 4S and all other iPhone 4 models. Mind you that ElementCase keeps its cases interesting and pumps out more editions to its Vapor line than you can pick out at your car dealership. The Vapor Pro comes in a plethora of colors and special editions. The Spectra series of Vapor Pro cases is made up from 12 differenct color combinations, all of which have a glossy anodized color finish. The Chroma on the other hand is made up with 6 different colors that are bead blasted for a matte finish. We've got a direct comparison showing the difference between the two types of finishes down below in case you were wondering.
The Vapor Pro Spectra is priced below all other Vapor Pro series and special edition cases, but it'll still set you back $129.99. Arguably, that's pricy. At least for that kind of dough, you'll be getting a comfortable unboxing experience with ElementCase's incredibly convenient, keychain- Speed Wrench screw tool with two additional screws stored and screwed into the cap. Also included inside the box is a screen protector and a black Ultrasuede back skin as well as a matching earpiece Ultrasuede pad you can apply to the front of your iPhone for additional comfort. The earpiece helps keep the cold aluminum away from your ear while talking. How thoughtful. What isn't included is the hard shell carrying case I'm afraid. That will cost you an extra $10, which is totally unnecessary to be honest.
Of course you can always customize your Vapor Pro to look more like you'd like it to look using a different colored plush Ultrasuede back skin just like this blue one for example at $15 a piece. Yep, Tekcases has spoiled us with some extras. One of my most favorite features of the Vapor family are these Ultrasuede backings. Other than adding some extra uniqueness and scratch protection, they're also very soft and velvety to the touch. With so much metal and glass you can appreciate some warmth and additional grip that the Ultrasuede provides. It is worth noting that all of the colored Ultrasuede skins will unfortunately affect your images when using the LED flash.
Take one look at the Vapor Pro and you will want feel an attraction. No matter your taste in color and style, the Vapor Pro will leave an impact on you. It has an all-capitalized BOLD look to it that is pure neodymium eye magnet. The Vapor Pro Chroma just looks astonishing with that mesmerizing monotone color scheme. I can stare it all day long and not get tired of it one bit. Look closer and you'll notice the brushed grain of the CNC'd aluminum frame shine thru the anodized finish. I've said it before and I'll say it again, ElementCase is king with it comes to putting the finishing touched on an aluminum case. Just brilliant.
More internal padding then you could ever wish for. The Vapor Pro has what I'd consider the best interior lining out of any aluminum case we've reviewed thus far. Its got extra padded foam pads placed at all four corners including the side of the aluminum frame. These are much thicker than any other padding materials used in various aluminum cases so they'll provide extra shock and impact absorption.
The result? Well when you put that together with the Vapor Pro's excellent front and back overlay lip, you've got one of the most if not best protective aluminum case there is to offer. ElementCase isn't a noob when it comes to doing things right with machined cases. Even when using a thicker than normal glass screen protector such as the Spigen Glas t, the Vapor Pro still managed to provide an ever so subtle lay-on-the-table rim surrounding the front glass of the iPhone. Since the Vapor Pro along with the Vapor Comp are designed to fit and surrounding only the iPhone's metal antenna band, there's plenty of room left to use any skin and screen protector your heart desires without any issues what so ever. Does it get any better than that?
Performance wise, the Vapor Pro's "Aerospace Polymer RF" clear plastic bridge towards the bottom left side lets all the reception goodness in like a club without a bouncer. So in other words, there's absolutely no signal degradation what so ever. None. Zilch. Speaking of performance, the cutouts on the Vapor Pro are extra generously wide so that most third party charge/sync cables and 3.5mm headphone plugs, will fit just fine.
The fit and finish here is nothing short of absolute brilliance. The Vapor Pro is as solidly built as a tank and has two separate piece that are joined together using a total of four torx screws at opposite corners. The two parts come together seamlessly without a single gap to be seen. On a scale of difficulty, the installation of the Vapor Pro is a 3 out of 10. It's very simple and effortless to say the least as far as aluminum cases go.
Putting aside the cool looking, non-obtrusive laser etched logos; the Vapor Pro features a dedicated metal sleep/wake button that is as responsive as using the iPhone naked. Around the inside, that metal button is covered underneath the rubberized padding so that it won't end up scuffing the iPhone's button. What I don't like the Vapor Pro is the side cutout for the volume buttons and silent switch. Maybe the Vapor Comp spoiled me, but I just can't get over the fact that reaching thru the Vapor Pro's aluminum cutout isn't as comfortable as pressing one of the built-in buttons. While you can reach these buttons using the Vapor Pro, those of you with chubby fingers will find it particularly annoying.
And then there's those side vents. What on earth are these ElementCase? Why hasn't the Vapor Pro been fitted with some side grip like the Vapor Comp? Those side slots are good for nothing. Utterly useless. Without additional grip, the Vapor Pro, especially in the Spectra finish, isn't a very grippy case. Putting the Vapor Pro against the Vapor Comp Stealth is a good indication between the bead blasted matte finish of the Vapor Comp and the more shiny finish of the Vapor Pro Spectra. If grip is important to you, the Vapor Comp is a no brainer. It's much grippier, and it's even slimmer without bloated Angelina Jolie lips to protect your iPhone's glassyness. The Vapor Pro is considerably more bulky in the hand than the Vapor Comp. But for a good reason. You're getting more case, more aluminum with the Vapor Pro, but at a price.
Ultimately, I'd go for the Editors' Choice awarded Vapor Comp. But don't get me wrong because the Vapor Pro is one amazing hybrid of an aluminum bumper case as well. However the Vapor Comp is a much sleeker case with finer esthetics, more comfortable to hold and a lot more grip at a better price. The Vapor Pro is a whole lot more of an industrial aluminum case with a much bigger ego which will mostly appeal to those who want to get more metal than plastic. It isn't as fully featured as the Vapor Comp but it still costs more. Go figure. For that reason alone, the Vapor Pro will have to give you a funny tinkle underneath your pants for you to slap your hard earned cash on the table.
With that being said, the Vapor Pro is the better choice if protection is of greater importance to you. On that bombshell, we leave you with a sweet taste of decision making. So many color choices, so very little time.