Le deux…French for…well…”the two”. In the case of Incipio’s new Le Deux for iPhone 4/4S, “the two” is referring to the two different components that make up the case; a polycarbonate bumper that covers the phone’s metal antenna band, and a brushed metal backplate to protect the rear glass. Incipio has always been a company known to combine multiple materials into one phone case, so what’s the scoop with this latest multi-material offering? Read past the jump to find out!
Out of the box, Incipio’s $30 le deux offers protection for all sides of your phone. With the included Vanity Kit (2 front screen shields, applicator card, and cleaning cloth), the polycarbonate bumper, and the rear brushed steel backplate, the le deux wraps your iPhone in complete protection from scrapes and bumps.
Getting the le deux on your phone proved to be a bigger challenge than it initially seemed, but I found the best way is to install the bumper first, inserting the phone’s front through the rear of the bumper (there’s little to no lip there). Once that snaps into place, the backplate can easily be pressed on, with the 4 tab/notch latches clicking into place, securing it to the bumper. And for those of you that might already be wincing at the thought of a metal backplate scraping against the iPhone’s glass back…don’t worry. The le deux’s metal back is lined with a soft rubber-like liner, keeping the metal and glass separate and safe.
Once installed, the le deux forms a very sleek, very form-fitting case around your iPhone and adds very little noticeable bulk. The bumper is one of the thinnest I’ve seen, and with the coupled thin steel plate on the back of the phone, it adds even less thickness as another Incipio product, the Feather, does to the phone. Unlike the Feather, the le deux does add just a hint of lay on the table design, protecting your phone’s glass screen from scratches when setting down face first.
The metal backplate’s brushed steel finish, available in three colors (black, silver, and gold) adds a touch of luxury feel to the already luxurious iPhone, not too unlike brushed metal interior accents in a high-end car. Sadly, the polycarbonate bumper negates some of this high-end feel of the metal backplate with its feel. It’s not bad by any means, but the thin, fragile-feeling nature of it somewhat contradicts the solid, high quality feel of the metal on the back. But, in Incipio’s defense, if the bumper was made in a way to feel less thin and fragile, it’d more than likely add significant bulk, and then take away from the sleek design of the overall case.
Accessing the volume buttons, vibrate switch, and sleep/awake buttons are very easy due to the thin bumper design and the open cutouts in the case for said controls. The vibrate switch cutout is of the larger variety, so the le deux does have complete compatibility with the iPhone 4. Again, due to this thin bumper design and ample cutout at the bottom, you should experience minimal, if any incompatibilities with charge/sync cables and docks when using the le deux.
One area that may cause a few incompatibility issues is the headphone cutout. It’s very shallow, like all other openings on this case, but unfortunately it’s not very large in diameter. Any headphone connectors similar in size to the stock Apple headphones will be fine, but any larger than that may run into trouble. The fat connector on a pair of Westone UM3X’s would actually fit, but didn’t fit well. Any bumping of the headphone port would knock loose the connection due to the headphone’s jack not fully seating into the port.
Any time I put metal on my iPhone, whether it be a metal bumper, or metal backplate, my first concern is possible signal/reception attenuation and degradation. I’ve had plenty of both products render my phone useless in all but the strongest reception areas. With the le deux, that concern doesn’t seem to be warranted. My phone never showed continued reduced reception during testing. To be completely forthcoming, I did notice some very inconsistent, very temporary signal fluctuation (about 8-10 dB/1 “bar” of loss) while using this case, but nothing that lasted more than a minute, and nothing repeatable or that impacted my phone’s real world performance. The metal backplate may be causing this signal fluctuation, but due to its inconsistent and unrepeatable nature, I’d be more inclined to chalk it up to cellular network issues.
In closing, if you like the thought of having the high-quality feel of a brushed metal back for your iPhone, the le deux by Incipio should definitely be worthy of your consideration. No, it’s not going to protect your phone from much other than minor scrapes and scratches, but it’s not designed to. It’s a “fashion case” that’s designed more to accentuate the iPhone’s styling than it is to protect it from a serious fall. This is a case to protect your phone’s finish, while looking good…say…for a night out on the town. If this fits your usage scenario, the le deux for iPhone 4/4S is definitely recommended.