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Friday
Jan182013

Power Support Flat Bumper for iPhone 5 Review

We've always taken Power Support to be the premier maker of screen protectors for all types of Apple devices. It's no doubt they were the best at what they did up until glass screen protectors caught on. Not leaving behind its legacy of screen protection films, the Japanese accessory maker branched out to create some really thin cases for the iPhone, namely the Air Jacket case. But. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, on a big island lies Power Support's elusive Flat Bumper for the iPhone 5. Like a rare Pokemon, it can only be found in Japan. And just when we thought that we had found the ultimate iPhone 5 bumper, an even better (arguably) substitute comes along. Power Support's Flat Bumper is a minimalist, ultra-thin bumper case that literally redefines how the bumper cases we've all come to know, are designed. Be sure to follow our review after the break!

Power Support's offerings have always carried a hefty price tag, and the Flat Bumper is no exception. Sadly you wouldn't be able to pick one of these up from Power Support USA unless you live in Japan. As far is we know it, the Flat Bumper can only be imported. Power Support has no plans to make it available anywhere else except in its home turf for unbeknownst reasons. We're dumbfounded by the odd decision, but fortunately you can get yourself one directly from the source thru a reseller like our friends at Chuwa Japan Imports for $43-$49. And if you use coupon code "Gadgetmac", you'll get $15 knocked off of shipping (limited). Hop on Amazon and you'll find many on offer as well.

Although the hefty price tag seems a bit out of touch when talking about a simple plastic bumper, albeit really thought-out - the Flat Bumper includes a few incentives inside the packaging. Inside you'll find two Power Support screen protectors, a matte anti-glare and a crystal clear version as well as one crystal clear back protection film. So if you think using this bumper will end up causing more damage than anticipated, you're covered thanks to the included scratch-protective films; which I must say are one of the highest quality screen protectors you're ever going to get with a bumper case. It also includes a set of clear sticker liners (yellow strip), more on their purpose later.

You can find Power Support's Flat Bumper in a few color options including the two we've got here like black - which is more of a slate color that matches the black iPhone 5's aluminum band, and silver with black trim. Both look great on a black iPhone 5 might I add. Other colors include metallic blue, metallic red and silver with white trim to go with your white iPhone 5.

Price aside, Power Support's Flat Bumper looks as if it's from another time set in the future. It's no big secrete Power Support's Flat Bumper is a direct competitor of Spigen's longstanding Neo Hybrid bumpers. The only difference is that the Flat Bumper takes simplicity to a whole other level. If minimalist aluminum bumpers like the T-type 3 attract your attention, the Flat Bumper is the second best alternative that's more comfortable to use, and less costly. The Flat Bumper's finish is a mixture of subtle metallic notes, and a very smooth and sleek surface backed by a thin rim of black rubber to not only extenuate the contrasts of colors, but to also offer both hand and surface traction. Not to mention the Flat Bumper's dual material build combines the best of both worlds to protect your iPhone 5 against minor drops, scratches and other small hazards.

The bottom is home to an usually flat, and spacious cutout for the Lightning connector port which is made to fit Apple's micro-to-Lightning adapter and other third-party Lightning connectors. As for the headphone port, it's the standard deeply recessed tight cutout which is only good for slim 3.5mm plugs. Power Support's attention to small details can be appreciated with the perforated speaker and mic audio pass-thru that respect the original iPhone 5 design elements to some extent. 

Speaking of dual materials, the Flat Bumper features an impressive one-piece build quality that's comprised out of hard polycarbonate and durable rubber - unlike the two separate layers used in Spigen's $32 Neo Hybrid EX Slim bumper. And although the Flat Bumper is eye level with the Neo Hybrid EX Slim in terms of build quality, the Flat Bumper is significantly easier to install. More over, it provides a much more snug fit around the iPhone 5.

Power Support's Flat Bumper carries with it a seamless "flat theme" that literally transforms the iPhone 5's industrial design into an iPhone 4-esque style with a muted and minimalist appearance you'd expect from Danish design, or in this case Japanese design. The Flat Bumper's buttons for instance, which are designed in such a way that one could easily mistake them for touch-sensitive capacitive buttons, are especially intriguing in that they're completely flat and sit flush with the rest of the bumper creating that seamless, unique look you know is one of the deciding reasons why you would ever consider getting one. The Flat Bumper's thin even lines can be seen from both sides of the iPhone 5, making Neo Hybrid EX and EX Slim look fat in comparison.

The Flat Bumper's seamless integrated buttons can still be identified with touch due to the groves that define them as buttons. While the volume buttons have the right amount of tactile feedback when pressed, the power button is a bit more problematic. Out of the box, the power button has no tactile feedback whatsoever. Apparently Power Support is aware of this design issue, and includes a set of clear sticker pads to help you bring back tactile feedback to the power button by placing a few of these in the Flat Bumper's underlining near the power button. I saw very little improvement.

The Flat Bumper barely contributes additional thickness around the iPhone 5, but just the right amount in order to accomplish its protective task in perhaps the least intrusive way possible. You can barely make out the chamfered edges of the iPhone 5 inside the Flat Bumper, and that's because it's designed in such a way that it "floats" around the perimeter of the iPhone 5's aluminum band unlike any other bumper we've had the pleasure of reviewing.

Now because of the Flat Bumper's streamline design, it'll enable you to use thick skins and glass screen protectors such as the Trunket wood skins for the back and the Spigen/Colorant glass screen protectors. And because there's a minimal lay-on-the-table edge, you'll lose that protection offered by the Flat Bumper. Although I wouldn't fret one bit when a glass screen protector is installed.

The design is the most unique we've seen. We excepted no less when Japanese design and manufacturing is involved in the inception of an iPhone bumper case. Draco Design's Draco 5 and Draco 4 are both a case in point.

Imagine wrapping your iPhone 5 with one of those flat type rubber bands that barely stick out the edges of the bezel. That's exactly what the Flat Bumper is like, only slightly more better looking of course. The slim, clean and streamlined features of the Flat Bumper really put it as a unique minimalist iPhone 5 bumper anyone looking for such a low-profile stylish combination will be pleased with the taking. Although Power Support's Flat Bumper is one of the best we've reviewed, it comes at a price we cannot justify. It is however, good enough to warrant our general recommendation as this is a superb quality bumper made by a respected brand that should without a doubt start selling it internationally.

Available from Chuwa Japan Imports

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