Apple Could Have Made Freeform3’s iPhone 5 Bumper [Review]

Freeform3 iPhone 5 1

Aluminum Case by Freeform3
Category: Cases
Works With: iPhone 5
Price: $69.99

iPhone cases overwhelm me. There are cases made from wood, metal, plastic, recyclable material, leather, and fabric. I’ve tried nearly every kind you can imagine, but I have yet to find one that I’m happy to wake up to every morning—many probably feel that way about their lovers.

In my quest to find a good looking, functional, minimal iPhone case, I came across an aluminum case for the iPhone 5 by Freeform3, a Craftwerk company. What started as a Kickstarter project has turned into the best iPhone bumper I’ve ever used.

The Good

CNC machined from a single block of air-craft grade aluminum, the Freeform3 iPhone 5 case looks like it could have been designed by Apple. The product is beautifully packaged, and as our own Charlie Sorrel already highlighted, Craftwerk’s boxes actually double as smart docks that can amplify the iPhone’s speakers.

Not much can be said about the design besides this: it’s gorgeous. I have yet to find a bumper that looks as good and feels as smooth in the hand. Very Apple-like. It doesn’t add any noticeable weight or heft to the iPhone 5, and it slightly raises the device off surfaces to protect from minor scratches and dents.

shot 2

Assembly is rather straightforward. The case is broken into two pieces for the top and rear of the iPhone. Tempered glass screen and rear plate protectors are included in the package. To put the case on, slide the bottom half onto the iPhone and place the glass protector over the device’s back until it slides into the bottom of the bumper. Then slide the top half of the case onto the iPhone until the two pieces are aligned with one another.

“Very Apple-like.”

Mute switch is fully accessible.

Mute switch is fully accessible.

White and black plastic inserts are included for the power button and volume rocker. I like the look of the black against the white iPhone, but you can switch out colors by pulling the insert out of the top aluminum piece.

One of my favorite things about this case is not actually the case. The anti-smudge Gorilla glass screen protector that Freeform3 sells separately is fantastic. Apple uses Gorilla glass for the iPhone’s screen, and having this screen protector effectively doubles the durability of your display. A cheaper (but still good) screen protector is included when you purchase the case, but I highly recommend getting the Gorilla upgrade for $30. It’s amazing how good it is at resisting fingerprint smudges.

The Bad

I had some issues getting my case’s ridges to align properly at first, so be careful when putting the bumper together for the first time. Some wiggling may be required. You want to make sure the parts slide onto the iPhone 5’s frame correctly or the final result won’t look quite right. The case was also very snug once I got it on correctly, so you may have to use a little force to take it off. Freeform3 says that pushing the rear glass towards the top of the iPhone will cause the top aluminum part to easily slide off.

“Some users may experience 5-10% signal loss.”

Unlike other metallic bumpers, I didn’t notice any major cellular signal issues when using the Freeform3. I remember my AT&T iPhone 5 briefly dropping to EDGE once in an area where I usually have LTE coverage, but I can’t be sure that it was related to the case. I did some research, and it seems that many people who have purchased this case have complained about signal issues. “Some users may experience 5-10% signal loss,” according to Freeform3.

The Verdict

Freeform3 makes my favorite iPhone 5 bumper out there. It’s a little pricey at $70, but there’s quality in the attention to detail. Signal loss may be a deal breaker for some, so it may be worth emailing Freeform3 before purchasing to see if there have been complaints for your carrier and area. If the signal issues weren’t such an issue, this would be a truly excellent purchase.

DSC01540_watermarked


Product Name: Aluminum Case for iPhone

The Good: Gorgeous, Apple-like design.

The Bad: Could contribute to signal loss.

The Verdict: Your love for this bumper may be directly proportional to how often you make phone calls.

Buy from: Freeform3



Cult of Mac rating: Good

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  • RobertClapp

    I purchased this bumper after reading this article and reading reviews online. This bumper is beautiful but useless. It is well crafted and well made for aesthetic purposes. Its function however is a disappointment. It reduces my reception in some cases by 2 bars. In other areas it has bumped my service from LTE to 4G (I use ATT) and in other cases it has bumped my 4G service to Edge. This can be observed by putting the bumper on and taking it off to witness the signal loss and recovery. I purchased this bumper after reading this article and reading reviews online. I don’t recommend this product to anyone. It certainly doesn’t deserve a good rating for it’s intended purpose.

    On a positive note this company does sell an excellent gorilla glass screen protector. I purchased one of those and was very happy with it until I dropped my phone and cracked the protector. The first screen protector shipment arrived damaged which must have happened during the packaging process because none of the shipping or retail packaging was damaged. They very quickly shipped a replacement. I ended up buying a rubberized case from a department store that was on sale. I should have done that to begin with.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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