Going back to where it all began, Element Case was always known for manufacturing truly unique cases for the iPhone and really has lead the way to what aluminum cases are today with the evolution of the Vapor. Thanks for the folks over at TekCases, we can finally put the Vapor Comp - currently one of the hottest aluminum bumpers - thru its paces and say that we've almost reviewed every single aluminum bumper cases out there worthy of incasing the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
We know you guys hate seeing those bars drop like flies, so that's why Element Case has come up with a hybrid aluminum bumper case so stealthy that you should never have to worry about losing reception ever again whilst rocking one of the most awesome cases known to iPhone users. Well, so they say. We find out exactly that and much more in the full review right after that jump!
TekCases was kind enough to hook us up with one many of Element Cases' special edition aluminum cases, the Vapor Comp Stealth Edition which will set you back a whopping $119.99 for stealthy color combination and extra perks. So for those of you who like to play it more simple will only drop $99.99 on a Vapor Comp which is available in six different monochromatic colors. But which ever you choose, know that you'll be getting some nice goodies along with it. Out of the box, the Vapor Comp includes a might nice hard shell carrying case. Yes, really. No joke. That tells you Element Case really means business.
In addition to a anti-glare screen protector, the Vapor Comp Stealth edition includes an actual carbon fiber skin to keep your iPhone's back protected. While this skin is extremely rigid, you will be able to reapply it as many times as you want without leaving residue. We also have the Ultrasuede back skin that comes included with the regular Vapor Comp bumpers, but more on that later.
There's also a unique hex tool that Element Case has developed called the Speed Wrench and it does exactly that. There are two extra screws conveniently screwed into the Speed Wrench's aluminum body for safe keeping. Installing the Vapor Comp using the Speed Wrench takes less than a minute and is very user friendly unlike other aluminum bumpers that include simple, hard to handle hex tools. There are four screws which secure the polycarbonate side cap to the aluminum frame and have little thread so you won't be spending much time screwing around. Literally.
Before we get into further detail, the Vapor Comp's hybrid design that incorporates a semi-transparent side polycarbonate cap (the red side) and a CNC machined aluminum frame (the black side) was to eliminate any signal interference caused by many aluminum bumper cases out there. I'm pleased to report that it indeed none of my bars have dropped nor did my WiFi signal. Element Case has ceased to make full aluminum cases in favor for hybrid constructed cases that do not affect reception.
The Vapor Comp Stealth edition features a bead blasted, matte aluminum finish as opposed to the more shiny Vapor Comp. I've never seen such perfection when it comes to matte aluminum finishes until now. This is by far the most amazing matte finished aluminum surface I've ever come across. So smooth and microscopic you'll think nanobots created it. Keeping it relatively simple, the Vapor Comp has all the right curves in a very slim form factor that keeps the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4's slim profile we all love so much but at the same time wish for a larger screen. Am I right?
Possibly one of the most notable features of the Vapor Comp is its side grips that protrude thru the aluminum frame. A TPU liner completely isolates the insides of the aluminum frame from metal to metal contact while providing a good level of shock protection rarely seen in aluminum bumper cases. As for gripability, the Vapor Comp feels really good in the hand. Thanks to the additional rubber side grips you've got complete control of your iPhone and a comfortable hold with no sharp edges or corners. If only this kind of method was incorporated into most aluminum bumper cases, the world would be a slightly better place. Coming from the exotic Dravo IV and all of its slick painted body, one can really appreciate the added side grips on the Vapor Comp.
Small details like a dedicated CNC machined aluminum sleep/wake button that is pre-installed into the aluminum frame only makes the Vapor Comp all the more satisfying to use on a daily basis. And as you can already tell, the Vapor Comp never even thought about compromising the usability of your iPhone. Even the polycarbonate side cap has built-in volume button rocker which is just as responsive if not more enjoyable to use than just pressing the iPhone's bare metal buttons. Really well done, Element Case. The Vapor Comp puts an end to users having to suffer with reaching into aluminum-surrounded cutouts in order to press a button. Of course the silent switch is still left behind but it still easily reachable thru the polycarbonate cutout. As was said before, this is exactly how all aluminum bumper cases should be designed. Although we have reviewed a few that do just that such as the Blade and Draco IV.
The Vapor Comp was designed with extra large cutouts in mind for the headphone and dock connector ports, and although heavily recessed, I was able to fit L shaped headphone plugs as well as non-standard dock connector charging cables. Keep in mind that not every bulky 3.5mm headphone plug will fit, but only the ones that were designed to have slim profiles.
There's nothing like real carbon fiber keeping your iPhone's glass protected. The skin is cut to perfection and fits the into the Vapor Comp precisely covering up the iPhone's back entirely without causing flash washouts at night. The finish on the carbon fiber skin is matte and feels glossy. Did I forget to mention that this just looks plain awesomely stealthy? Element Case's Ultrasuede skin is a much better feeling back protective skin to have on the back of your iPhone as it adds extra grip and traction. It also feels very smooth and velvety to the touch. Something that I really like for a change and isn't typically easy to come by with most skins. Again, no flash washout using the black Ultrasuede skin, though I cannot confirm that with other colors. You can purchase these skins separately in a few different colors as well. And since I know we will get asked this, Trunket skins will in fact fit the Vapor Comp as will any other.
No matte what iPhone color you're got it'll look stunning inside the Vapor Comp. Both front and back are recessed just enough to keep the overall slimness while providing decent amount of protection as far as bumper cases go. It's worth nothing that the Ultrasuede skin is thicker than the carbon fiber and will sit flush with the Vapor Comp transforming it into a protective case.
I'm out of words. And at this bombshell, we conclude this review and leave you with a sweet taste of awesomeness that is the Element Case Vapor Comp. There really aren't any drawbacks to be said here other than the somewhat expensive price. If you're looking for a quality, thrilling aluminum bumper case and a great user experience, the Vapor Comp is without a doubt worthy of your iPhone. Element Case thought about everything, and is charging you for it.