Made from rare woods, leather, and nickel-plated aluminum, Element’s Ronin iPhone 5 case is definitely one of the most beautiful and finely crafted cases I’ve seen. But at $180, its price might be hard from some to swallow.
Everything about the Ronin feels premium. Its nickel-plated aluminum top and bottom have a lovely silver shimmer and look striking. They also fit like a glove and are precision-crafted to give full access to the phone’s speakers and headphone jack.
On the sides of the Ronin, Ziricote, an exotic wood, ethically sourced from Belize, handsomely stained, and with a grain that looks to me like a blend of rosewood and mahogany (like my office full of books).
Two included leather backs, one dark brown and one suede, round out the look of the case, and give Ronin a classy look.
Everything about the Ronin feels premium.
More than appearances, though, I love the way the Ronin fits in my hand. It adds a bit of size and heft to my iPhone 5, which I actually like, and the wood is smooth with a texture I love. With its wood sides, the Ronin feels great against the skin.
Aside from its high-end materials and aircraft-precise construction, the Ronin also comes with a ton of accessories, including those two leather backs I mentioned, a front screen cover, an assembly tool, and though not always included, my unit case with a leather storage pouch as well.
I only have one complaint about Ronin: its volume buttons don’t work well for lefties. When pressed with a thumb, both the up and down volume buttons on the iPhone get pressed in tandem, causing the phone to ignore the input. I’m thinking this happens because a thumb has a wider surface area than a finger, and the wood isn’t as resistant to pressure as metal or rigid plastic. Either way, something to keep in mind.
Also, though it didn’t bother me a bit, some people made comments about the case’s size, and some were annoyed that it must be removed with tools. As I mentioned earlier, I like the size, but it would be nice to be able to remove the case without the included assembly tool.
I would also warn the less technical that this case is not easy to put on. Both the front and back covers stick on and aren’t easy to apply perfectly—I actually gave up on the front protector screen. And if you install the sticky vinyl metal protectors included with Ronin (which prevent your iPhone’s aluminum from scratching), be ready for a 20-30 minute install time. That’s about how long it took me.
At $180, I can’t say you should or shouldn’t buy Element’s Ronin case, that’ll have to be your call. What I can say, though, is for your hard earned money, you’ll be wrapping your iPhone 5 in a finely crafted precision-made case with all the fixin’s. It’s clear from the moment you unbox it—the Ronin’s premium metals and woods were selected and assembled with great care.