We've got a very interesting looking aluminum case for the iPhone 4 called the Rokbed by RokForm. Now most of the aluminum cases I've reviewed in the past had a bumper style or a fully closed back style design but nothing none of those cases really differentiated themselves from one another. The Rokbed is one of those cases you love or hate from the instant you see it. I personally like the look of this case a lot. It might look familiar to you from the front but around the back, it's a whole different and unique looking case. Catch more of the review right after the break.
You might be asking why isn't the Rokbed's bottom as round as the top? I reached out to Rokform about that and was told that's because RokForm also makes aluminum stands called the Rokstand which are made to work together with the Rokbed case. Whether that is the case or not, I'm not a fan of the unevenness going around on the Rokbed case. You can feel the difference in comfort right off the bat. Holding your iPhone 4 inside this case feels much better when grasping the top instead of the bottom. I don't think trading comfort for compatibility is the right thing to do.
One more negative issue I have that tighs in nicely with the not so round bottom part of the Rokbed is the two screws that secure the bottom peice to the rest of the case. There are two screws around the back of the case, placed ecaxtly where you would hold your iPhone 4, and those two screws are not so flush with the case making it uncomfortable to hold. It feels like little sharp corners around the back. Holding the case front side back, feels much more smooth and more comfortable. So yes, RokForm, please do something about those two screws around the back at least. So let's move onto the positives of the Rokbed case because the cons are behind us.
It all comes down to personal prefrence from here. The Rokbed gets very interesting once you move onto the back side of things. You can see the openess design that the Rokbed has. It's almost like a partial bumper style but there is the "X" design which adds a little more protection against drops and bumps. While the inside of the Rokbed is not padded by any means, the iPhone 4's metal antenna band, back and front glass do not touch the case at all. The Rokbed has guardrails on the inside, just like some other cases, which suspend the iPhone 4. I'm not so sure about getting this case primerily if you need drop protection just because there is no padding to absorb shock except for aluminum construction. That just doesn't seem right. And I have not seen any aluminum case with real shock absorbing padding other than the Blade case.
I must say, this case really reminds me of rock climbing gear with the open back design. And who knows, maybe that was RokForm's inspiration of making the Rokbed. I really like the look of it. You can see the unfinished sort of look made by the CNC machine to give the case more texture, I like that. I'm not such a fan of glossy finishes. The Rokbed only comes in a glossy anodized black finish but you also have the option to choose from 9 difference bottom colors. I really wish RokForm would also have a few matte Rokbed aluminum cases available instead of just one glossy black finish. I do recommend using a back screen protector with the Rokbed just like I would recommend with any other open back cases such as bumper cases.
Having those sides around the iPhone 4 cut out and the fact that the iPhone 4's antenna does not touch the aluminum of the Rokbed, does not impact the signal at all. No drops in reception bars or WiFi. The bottom dock connector cutout is wide enough to fit 3rd party cables though the headphone jack cutout is tight and you will only be able to use slim 3.5mm plugs. Getting to the buttons and silent switch is easy enough.
I love that hex tool that comes with the Rokbed, it makes installing this case a breeze. You only get two hex screws and no additional ones if you lose one or both so be careful with those tiny screws. Overall the Rokbed fits the iPhone 4 like a glove without affected the signal even while it's made out of aluminum. I would suggest waiting for a fix on those sharp screw heads on the back but another than that, if you like the rocky look, I say go for it. Price $79.