We have very fond memories of E13ctron's S4 bumper case. The S4 was the first two-tone color customizable aluminum bumper that was unique and visually quenching. It was exactly two years ago when we gave E13ctron's first ever iPhone case a review, and it was one of the few unique aluminum machined bumpers to received our Editors' Choice award. But since then, things have changed. The bar is much higher than it ever was. The S5 is E13ctron's latest iPhone 5 aluminum Bumper-style case to feature a new snap-in design. Can E13ctron's new S5 throw some punches at its fearsome competition? Catch the full review to find out!
As much as we liked the S4, the S5 is another one of those love it or hate it type of aluminum bumpers. Like Draco Design's half baked attempt at making a second generation design built upon a very solid conception it had once before, E13ctron made things worse by creating a much more basic design that lacks much of the striking visual impact that the S4 had. And that's not taking the progress and wide variety of options we have today for machined iPhone cases into account. E13ctron's S5 does not remotely impress. Where's the originality? The excitement of personalization? It's gone sadly.
We really cannot believe that after two years of development and feedback, the S5 still has miserable button cutouts. And I mean really miserable, hard to reach cutouts with the opening size clearly designed for use with a pointy pen. The iPhone 5's buttons are not tiny safeguarded reset buttons, E13ctron. The S5 lacks attention to detail, and when priced at $85, we expect integrated machined buttons which as you can tell the S5 is in desperate need of.
Around the back is where you can see that new plastic liner overlaying on top of the iPhone 5. This means that you won't be able to use thick skins to protect the back. GelaSkins, Lucky Labs vinyl-type skins will fit, but it'll be a tight fit which I wouldn't recommend. The S5 does provide a rim around the edge to help elevate the iPhone 5 from contacting the surface however. The front is still designed in a way that lets you apply thick screen protections such as the Spigen Glas.t glass screen protector.
Hold up though, because the S5 isn't all that bad if you're into the whole minimalism concept. While visually the S5 simply cannot compete with the insanely exciting to look at Draco 5 and Sector 5 aluminum bumpers, the S5 is actually a slim and comfortable metal bumper to hold in the hand. Those simple, well rounded corners and edges make it feel like a solid every-day type ordinary plastic/silicone case. E13ctron's S bumper series were always comfortable to hold, but did fail to provide proper openings for the iPhone's functions.
Bottom cutouts are standard made to fit slim headphone jacks and of course the Lightning connector, and the same can be said about the speaker and mic ports.
The fit and finish are both impeccable. Customers have the option of choosing between two different types of finishes including polished and the matte which we've got in to review, along with 14 color choices. Sadly you won't be able to pick from a two-tone color scheme like the S5's predecessor. E13ctron's anodized polished colors and matte finish were always top notch and it's no different this time around. The black and blue matte finish colors on the S5 we've got is very smooth and fine, almost like satin silk with a good amount of grip. It closely resembles the Flux finish of Element Case which we also love.
The installation process is a day and night improvement over the S4 variant. Instead of using a bunch of screws, the S5's snap-in feature literally takes seconds to install the iPhone 5. Inside the aluminum bumper is a plastic interior frame that looks like a thin bumper liner which installs around the iPhone 5 like an ordinary TPU case. You then snap the iPhone 5 into the back side of the S5 until it snaps into place. The fit is very precise, snug and secure without seeming like it would be difficult going in or out of the aluminum bumper.
The two parts sit flush with each other and you'll notice that around the back is where you can actually see the interior plastic liner surrounding the iPhone 5 like a plug. However, while snapping the iPhone 5 into the S5 is easy and creates a snug fit, taking it out is extremely difficult. Without any key points to help you separate the two parts, pulling your iPhone 5 out of this bumper is a frustrating nightmare. As you can tell, I couldn't bother trying the S5 in black.
The iPhone 5's redesigned antennas might be the cause of recent all-aluminum machined bumper cases. And the E13ctron S5 is no different. As we've tested earlier using the Draco 5, the S5 is also quite remarkably not susceptible to reception degradation. Just like the Draco 5, the S5 did not reduce the signal bars or WiFi in a noticeable way. As always, this will greatly depend on your reception area.
We've come to a conclusion that we really did not anticipate having had such a fantastic experience with E13ctron's S4 bumper for the iPhone 4. Unfortunately, the S5 needs more developing and a gentle touch for small details. The finish, comfortable smoothness and the simplicity of the S5 are all likable, but the fact that we couldn't operate any of the iPhone 5's buttons as one would expect, the tiring process of removing the iPhone 5 out of the S5, mediocre unexciting design and the $85 price tag is simply too much to ask for. Hopefully we will see E13ctron improve upon these drawbacks quickly because the S5 does have a hidden potential. Any updates will be posted down below.