The Ronin iPhone 5 Case Is Beautiful, But Costs As Much As The Phone It Protects [Review]



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.

The Good

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.

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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).

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Two included leather backs, one dark brown and one suede, round out the look of the case, and give Ronin a classy look.

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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.

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The Bad

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.

The Verdict

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.


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  • thbthttt

    So, are you saying that this case comes with its own protective leather case?!!

  • JasonStatman1

    too pricey for my taste, but I like that they make some original products. maybe i’ll get one after a promotion (:

  • uluckidog

    I bought the Ronin and I love it. It’s a crowd pleasure for sure. But I am also VERY disappointed. The “leather grain” pouch should most certainly be recalled. It’s 100% fake leather and it’s MADE IN CHINA…just open the case wide enough and you will see the tag on the inside. After spending so much money on a case, one would expect better, especially after qualifying such an expensive purchase with the promise made by ElementCase that “we have spared no expense” and have used “only the best materials, made in the USA, etc. etc. Ok fine. Perhaps the actual case is the real deal..but I would not expect something so cheap to such a “masterpiece”.

    The thing is, I don’t think ElementCase even knows it’s a fake leather. I wouldn’t either had I not been in the business of luxury goods. This is exactly why ElementCase should recall these so called “leather” pouches. If you want to know if your’s is real leather or not, there are several things you can do. Take something that you know is real leather and place it beside your Ronin case “leather” pouch. While there are many tests, there are 4 very easy ones with immediate results. Get a little bit of olive oil on your finger…not much…rub it on both objects. Within 2 minutes the oil will absorb into the actual leather. If it is will sit on top until you wipe it off. Look at the edges of your Ronin pouch beside the stitching..the edge is coated with plastic. Why? So you can’t examine the cut. Where real leather is cut…it’s not smooth…it’s rough. The third test is to get the plastic Ronin pouch close to heat…or a flame. Leather is hard to burn…and certainly does not melt. Finally…just smell it. It doesn’t take a genius to know that real leather has an earthy smell and (especially when new) is full of tanning chemicals. Your luxury plastic “leather grain” pouch for your new Ronin “Masterpiece” never had that.

    if ElementCase does not immediately resolve this…it’s going to be a HUGE PR problem the company and all of it’s authorized retailers. I have two suggestions…recall all fake cases and produce a real leather case and reship them…or dish out a very big refund. Please EC…address this issue immediately.

  • Jack2397

    Element Case is using fake leather!? Glad I decided to go with my alfa case from EDGE Design. Cool look, made in the US and no tools needed for installation.

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