The AL13 Ultrathin iPhone Bumper Is A Sharp, Classy, And Minimalist Delight [Review]

Hip industrial table with screws not included.

Hip industrial table with screws not included.

AL13 iPhone Bumper Casedesigned by m
Category: Cases
Works With: iPhone 5
Price: $79.99

Apple might not make bumpers anymore, and Antennagate may be a thing of the past, but there are still some good bumpers out there… and top of the list is the AL13.

What It Is

The AL13 Ultrathin bumper case for the iPhone 5 is a precision-cut aluminum bumper case that shows off the beautiful design of your iPhone 5 while providing some additional protection along the way. The bumper case comes in a gorgeous metal box, cushioned in with black foam, with a design aesthetic that matches the AL13 itself.

The case is in two slim pieces; the iPhone 5 slides into the back of the cushioned sides of the larger bit of metal, which has smaller cut outs for the sleep/wake, volume, and mute buttons, and a larger cut out area on the bottom that lets the iPhone speakers, headphone jack, and Lightning port breathe. The second, slimmer piece slides into a small groove along the back of the case for a tight fit.

The finish on both pieces of the review unit is a dark matte grey, evoking an extension of the iPhone 5 itself rather than an extra add on.

The Good

The AL 13 enhances the elegant iPhone 5 design rather than detracting from it.

The entrepreneurs who make the AL13 wanted to create a premium bumper case for the iPhone that was both simple and elegant. They’ve completely succeeded here with the AL13, which adds a layer of protection to the front and back of the iPhone, keeping it from touching any flat surface it is set on, as well as from any drops to the ground. The case allows the beauty of the iPhone 5’s industrial design to shine through, adding only a bare minimum of thickness. It continues to fit into my pocket and the holder I have for my iPhone on my car’s dashboard, something bulkier cases do not.

Perfectly fitted engineering.

Perfectly fitted engineering.

The slide-on back piece is a perfect fit, and slides behind the iPhone to provide a snug but not too-tight fit. There are no screws or clamps or snaps to worry about, and nothing scratches the iPhone, an initial concern when seeing the design. The soft cushioning material inside the front piece nestle the iPhone in safely with no metal-on-metal rubbing, a detail of some importance.

The overall look of the AL13 enhances the iPhone 5 without detracting from it; I’ve had several questions about whether I’m toting around a new iPhone prototype, that’s how well the bumper case matches the design. There is a small logo on either side of the bumper case, one that says AL13, the other the design by m logo: a lower-case m within a circle.

The Bad

The bottom of the AL13 can be a bit on the sharp side, and boy does it vibrate.

Honestly, the only two issues I have with the AL13 are minor. The material of the bumper case is metal, which tends to transmit vibrations from the iPhone a bit more than other rubber or plastic cases I’ve used in the past. That’s not a bad thing when it’s in a pocket, but set that baby down on a glass or metal table and you’re going to hear it.

Such a pretty case for your case.

Such a pretty case for your case.

In addition, the bottom edge of the back slide-in piece is a bit sharper than the rest of the bumper case, which can lead to a bit of a sore pinky when holding the device in a portrait orientation, at least the way I do it. I tend to brace the bottom of the iPhone 5 on the inside of my smallest finger on my right hand when checking email first thing in the morning or late at night before sleep claims me. It can get a bit uncomfortable after prolonged use in this manner.

The Verdict

Ultimately, unless you own nothing but glass tables, the AL13 is a delightfully simple, minimalist, elegant design for an iPhone 5 case, and provides just enough protection while allowing the gorgeous design of the iPhone itself to shine forth. While $80 might be a bit on the steep side for many of us, for those to whom design matters, it’s a small price to pay for such a well-crafted and delightfully Apple-like iPhone case.

Recommended.

AL13FullProduct Name: AL13 Ultrathin Bumper Case

The Good: Beautifully designed, precision manufactured, and super thing. The AL13 provided enough protection for most of us, with quite a bit of style.

The Bad: If you hold your iPhone with your pinky, beware. Plus, don’t set this on a glass table if you want to keep it quiet.

The Verdict: For those who want basic protection and fantastic looks, the AL13 is worth every bit of the $80 asking price.

Buy from: design by m

Cult of Mac rating: Excellent

  • wrongcoast

    I’d bet Mr. LeFebvre did NOT use his phone in a wide variety of real world situations with this case installed. If he had, he probably would have discovered what other reviewers (not to mention scores of owners of the case who have commented on the AL13 site) have discovered. The case significantly impacts reception, especially when the signal is weak to begin with. That’s why my beautiful looking AL13 case sits in a drawer while my iPhone is wrapped in a $15 rubber bumper.
    Surely Mr. LeFebvre remembers antenna-gate. A review about how well made the AL13 is (and it is) without a mention of reception is totally incomplete and misleading. If his signal is that much stronger than the one I get in LA so that the AL13 doesn’t effect reception, I’m moving to Alaska with him!

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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