It’s difficult to find stuff made on U.S. soil these days. Heck, sometimes it seems like nothing is made here. But that’s not true of the elite, exo-skeletal Rockform Rokbed iPhone 4 case ($80), intricately machined from a solid block of aluminum: It’s designed and manufactured in the good ol’ U.S.A. (and it’s not shy about saying so), in Orange County, California by one of the most unlikely outfits to make an iPhone case — the motorcycle fanatics at Two Brothers Racing.
This is one ruggedly handsome, exclusive case. Its CNC’d, anodized alloy frame immediately reminded me of something made by Paul Components, a maker of (extremely expensive) bicycle parts with an almost legendary reputation for superb quality and elegance. Chances are extremely good you’ll be the only one on your block with one of these. Our test unit was even more exclusive with the limited edition — there’re only six left, according to Rokform’s website — “Night Camo” flavor, a greyscale camouflage pattern printed onto the case’s matte-black anodized finish.
The case is meticulously crafted. The iPhone seems to glide rather than slide into the main part of the two-piece case — the tolerances feel that tight — and the end bolts onto the main piece with two tiny Torx screws (Rokform supplies a Torx key and two extra Torx screws in case you lose one. And you will). All the buttons and switches are easily accessible.
The Rokbed’s alloy form never actually touches the iPhone 4’s antenna (so the antenna isn’t grounded by the metal of the case), a feat of impressive design and machining precision, and the design works: I didn’t experience any loss of signal while using the case.
For a hunk of metal, it’s pretty light. Probably due to the fact that it’s made of high-end 6061 aluminum alloy (the same high strength-weight ratio alloy used for those expensive bike parts) and machined to within an inch of its life.
It feels somewhat bulkier than many plastic cases on the light end. The difference is slight, but noticeable.
Better hope you remembered to bring that Torx key if you need to remove the case for, say, a little topping off with a backpack battery.
For now, Rokform is classifying the case as AT&T only: The company says Verizon iPhone users have reported call problems when using the case.
At $80, It’s pretty expensive; more expensive that some cases that actually do something, like feed juice to the iPhone or lasso horses. Add an extra $20 if you need the Night Camo version so you can take your iPhone out on Navy SEAL operations (there’s also a limited edition Digi Camo version if you find yourself frequently combatting…computers, I guess).
It’s like a precision tuned, high-end, alloy motorcycle part — for your iPhone. Vroom!