1. Austin Morrow's Avatar

    Aluminum cases have been very popular among recent months, and it's really hard to stand out amongst the dozens of aluminum cases available. Take for example the Vapor Pro with it's no signal loss, almost all aluminum design, or the Atomic Diamondback with its full case design and diamond pattern showcased on the back. Recently, we have seen a new contender to this category, by the name of E13ctron. E13ctron stormed into the market with their all aluminum S4 case and they look to follow it up with their new case, the Hybrid. Made to challenge the likes of the Element Case Vapor Pro, the E13ctron Aluminum Acetal Hybrid, or just Hybrid for short, features a combination of two materials, acetal on the back and anodized aluminum on the front, made to decrease signal loss all while still keeping that premium look that aluminum cases are known for. So, does the Hybrid stand up to the likes of the Element Vapor Pro and other aluminum cases? Read on for the full review of the E13ctron Aluminum Acetal Hybrid for the iPhone 4 to find out.

    Although E13ctron isn't the biggest iPhone 4 case manufacturer on the face of the earth, they are very well recognized, and being as the cases they make are pretty expensive, I was expecting some pretty high end packaging. Turns out, E13ctron decided to go with a much simpler approach to this. The E13ctron, to my amazement, actually arrived in a few separate parts in none other than some simple Ziploc bags in various sizes with nothing more than an instruction manual for extras. Maybe a little bit too simple for my tastes considering the fact that this is a $70 case, but to each his own I suppose.

    Now, installation was a little tougher than I originally expected. The case, which is made out of three parts, as explained in the beginning, took me personally about 10 minutes to install, give or take a few. Now, you must first set your iPhone 4 into the acetal hybrid backplate of the case making sure to not misalign. Next, take the middle piece, which is a very thin piece of plastic if I do say so myself, and install it on the iPhone 4. This middle section is actually what the phone rests on so that it is never actually touching the aluminum therefore decreasing the probability of reception issues. Next, take your front aluminum piece and align it with the middle and back piece. Don't worry, we are almost finished. Lastly, take 6 screws (any color choice, doesn't matter much) and install them into the designated slots on the front, making extra sure not to screw in too tightly or strip out any of the screws. Once that is done, you should have the E13ctron fully installed on your iPhone 4. I know it may be a time consuming project, but that's the price you pay for an assembled aluminum case.

    Now that we have that done and in the books, let's take a quick overview of all the buttons and the port access. Starting at the top you will find three individual cutouts for the audio jack, the mic, and the sleep/wake button. The audio jack, while being slightly on the small size, should fit most normal sized headphones and earphones and the mic had no problem supporting its function of noise cancelation. As for the sleep/wake button, it is very easy to get to and is not nearly as recessed as some of the other aluminum cases that I have seen on the market. Going to the left side of the case you will find one wide cutout for the volume rockers and the silent toggle switch. Just like the sleep/wake button, these were all very easy to access, so not much to talk about there. As for the bottom, you will take note of the three individual cutouts for the speaker, the mic, and the dock connector. The speaker and the mic obviously had no problems whatsoever with their tasks and the thirty pin dock connector is large enough and Un-recessed that it will fit with most third party cables and docks, although some docks may present a problem. Lastly, you will find that E13ctron has engraved their logo on the bottom left side of the case that is neither overpowering or flashy, its simple enough to not take away from the overall look of the case.

    As far as the quality of the aluminum and the acetal back go, they are both pretty spectacular. The polished aluminum front that my case came with had no blemishes on it, looked very good and attractive (especially in the orange color) when on the iPhone 4, and lined up perfectly as it should be. That same statement can be issued to the acetal back, which was also of amazing quality and I found that it blended in very nicely with the front aluminum portion and nearly matched the texture and look to make an almost complete scene. Also, the case has a very industrial look to it with the overall jagged appearance it has going for it. In my opinion, the black screws look totally badass when combined with the orange aluminum front piece and reminded me a lot of the black powder coated wheels I have on my YFZ 450.

    Now, the biggest question here is going to be how the case affects reception. I'll have to admit, I did have a few doubts when the E13ctron Hybrid arrived. It just seemed to me like an acetal back wouldn't help the reception at all, if any. To my surprise though, I found that not only did I have barely any reception issues, but I also found that the E13ctron Hybrid may have finally ended my quest for the perfect aluminum case and has a very good chance against the likes of the Element Vapor Pro. Now, everyone here who is reading this will probably ask me what my technical data was. Well, here you go. With the case off my phone, I found I got about about a -92 decibel level with it shifting a decibel below or above every now and then. Immediately after installing the case I noticed that none of my bars dropped at all. After taking a look at my decibel reading though, I read -95, only a -3 decibel increase, which is equal to roughly (and I quote Chris975D from MacRumors on this) a third of a bar. So, with the E13ctron case installed on my phone, I have had absolutely no reception issues whatsoever, pretty good if I do say so myself.

    Now, the E13ctron Aluminum Acetal Hybrid isn't all good though, it does have a few minor downsides. The first being people's personal opinion on the amount of material used. Not everyone will like the fact that the E13ctron is made out of half aluminum and half acetal. Most people, from what I have experienced, may not exactly dig that the case is made up of only half aluminum and half acetal. Most people from what I know, wether it be on the forums or in real life, prefer that their phone be covered in a full aluminum case, reception issues or not. Also, there seemed to be a few minor design flaws that could easily be worked around in the next batch. First, it seems that the acetal back is very flexible and does not seem to hold its shape very well and seems to bend slightly on the back, which may expose some of the antenna. Lastly, the case does seem to collect a bit of dust in the ports and openings, but I guess thatís too be expected with almost every tight fitting case like the E13ctron.

    Overall, the E13ctron Aluminum Acetal Hybrid for the iPhone 4 is probably my most favorable case of all time in terms of aluminum style cases for the iPhone 4. Despite having a few design drawbacks, the case succeeds in almost all of my personal categories, and exceeds my exceptions in terms of reception. You can pick up the E13ctron Aluminum Acetal Hybrid for the iPhone 4 in a ton of different color combinations and is currently retailing for 69.99. If you would like to get your own hands on one (which I highly recommend you do), then hit up the link at the bottom for more info.

    Rating: 4.5/5
    Founder & Editor In Chief of On The Edge Apps
    2011-06-11 07:35 AM