e13ctron aluminum case Full Review

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by chris975d, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. chris975d, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010

    macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #1
    I received my e13ctron aluminum case for iPhone 4 early Monday morning for testing, and have been using it exclusively since then to get an accurate assessment of how it performs. My findings are as follows:

    Initial impressions:

    Packaging was bare. In fact, it was just each half of the case in a separate ziploc bag, with the hex screws and wrench in another. I know through emails that the company is working on finalizing the retail packaging, so this may change in the immediate future. Packaging is not a big deal to me anyway, and since I was receiving this case strictly for testing purposes, it's a non-issue for me. As far as the initial look of the case, it's very well made. Machining and finish is superb, with the finish consistent and "grain" of the aluminum uniform and all in the same direction. To those of you familiar with the high quality of finish on the Element Vapor, this e13ctron is on par with that. The logo (which I'm usually not fond of on cases) is very minimal, and very tastefully done. I'm actually pleased with the logo placement and look on this case.

    Pics:
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    The way this case fits on the phone is unique to all the aluminum "bumper-style" cases out so far in that it use plastic "gasket-looking" inserts to completely suspend the case between the two halves, so that no part of the phone's antenna is coming into contact with the aluminum case. The inserts are a hard plastic, precision cut to the exact shape of the inside of the case. So the case "grabs onto" the phone via these plastic inserts, which are in turn clamping down on the antenna, not the glass (in case anyone is concerned as to whether the case rests on the glass). Hopefully you can see below how this insert system works, and how the phone is suspended on these inserts and never comes into contact with the aluminum of the case.

    So a side cut away of this case would show:
    top aluminum half
    plastic insert
    phone
    plastic insert
    bottom aluminum half

    Pics:
    [​IMG]
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    Once the case is installed on the phone, it's very slim and sleek, and doesn't add much bulk at all to the phone, and maybe even a little less width to the phone than the Element Vapor. The case does create a small lip front and back to give it some "lay on the table" design, so that the screen and back glass don't come into contact with any flat surface that the phone is laid on.

    Performance:

    This is always the big concern when it comes to these aluminum cases. I've tested this case pretty hard for the past two days in this regard, making calls/using data/using GPS over about a 40 mile stretch in rural Georgia, and I can say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the minimal effect this case has on reception. Throughout all my testing, this case will reduce reception at most 5-7dB anywhere I've been. Again, that's a maximum reduction, quite often it was less than that. At work I typically hover around -81dB, with this case on it's -87dB. Yes, this is a reduction, but unless you're already in a very, very low reception area, it shouldn't knock you down by more than "one bar" of signal. I could make calls and use data with the phone all the way down to -120dB (this same area will test out at around -115dB with no case installed). I've gotten to where I keep my phone showing dB reading instead of "bars", as the dB reading is more useful to me anyway.

    As far as data rate is concerned, I see absolutely no change in my data speeds with the case on as opposed to no case. I average around 2500kbps download/1.4kbps upload speeds (no case) at work and home, and even with the reduced dB readings I get these same results through SpeedTest. So I see no change here.

    GPS: I've tested the GPS every time I've been in my car for the past two days (around 80 miles of traveling), and I'm seeing that the GPS can locate me and follow me perfectly fine, with an accuracy of about 3-6m (same as I see without a case). This has been tested using the default Google Maps app, and both Navigon and Tom Tom navigation apps. I will say that at times (not every instance), it can take the GPS up to 50 seconds (longest was 52 seconds, to be precise) to lock onto me, but once it's locked on, it has never failed to track me. On average, it takes about 15 seconds to lock onto my location with the case installed, versus the average of about 5-7 seconds with a non-cased phone. So the case does have some effect on the GPS as far as time to initial location lock, but once locked, it holds onto position fine.

    Bluetooth/wifi: I use a Bluetooth for almost all of my calls, and I've not seen any decrease in sound quality or connection range using my Bluetooth headsets (Motorola HX1, Jawbone Icon, and Plantronics Voyager Pro). As far as wifi is concerned, I've seen no drop in data speed (tested with SpeedTest) nor connection range, but as far as that goes, I'm only about 30 ft from my wifi router at work, so I'm not sure how effective of a test that is.

    Final Comments:

    All in all, I like this case for an all aluminum case. It has a great finish, the color (gold) matches what I was wanting exactly, and the attachment system is the best I've seen at isolating the phone from the antenna. It's also more or less a symmetrical design which I prefer, as opposed to the non-symmetrical "Vapor-design". You don't have to worry about any padding (like in the Vapor) compressing over time, or coming loose, or not being uniform around the interior of the case. These precision cut inserts will put the phone in the center of the case every time, and would be very easy to replace if you ever damaged or lost one. Yes, it does cut signal slightly, but at least in my area, it's not enough to hinder the phone's operation. I'll definitely say this is one of the top two all aluminum cases I've tried (I've tried the Vapor, Exovault, Fusionwerkz Raw 0 and C, and Alumacase). From what I've seen, if you're wanting an all aluminum case, this is definitely a good choice. If you are in a very, very low reception area (averaging 1 bar), I'd tend to direct you toward the Atomic Hybrid, if you're wanting a similar look for your case. I prefer aluminum, so I'm glad to see that the all aluminum case makers are getting better and better at making cases that minimize their impact on reception. And, as I've always said, please remember that everything I've said here is based on testing IN MY AREA, and may not be what everyone sees in their respective areas. I only state this because as a lot of you are aware of, these aluminum cases seem very influenced by area they are used in, with some users seeing far more performance hits in some parts of the country than people in other areas.

    The only negatives I'd give this case is in the area of packaging, but once the retail packaging gets finalized, it should be an even better purchase. That, and it's price is slightly higher than some of the competitors. Then again, you are getting a great attachment system (the plastic inserts), and the quality of milling/finish on this case is outstanding. Once it has better retail packaging, I'd say the case is more justified in it's cost. For those of you considering an Element Vapor, I'd definitely steer you toward this case instead, as it matches it in quality of workmanship, and easily beats it in performance (again, for an all aluminum case).
     
  2. macrumors G3

    SchneiderMan

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Location:
    Apple state
    #2
    Great review!

    Told you so guys, I love this case :)
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
  4. thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #4
    Thanks guys! Just trying to help out some of my fellow readers here. There are so many of these aluminum cases hitting the market that it's dizzying for person to make a choice on which one's work and which one's don't. Hopefully some of my "guinea-pig" testing can ease that decision for someone!
     
  5. bighabeeb, Dec 8, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2010

    macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    #5
    Thus far my impressions have been very similar - in addition I just (like in the last 3 minutes) had my phone fall off a table and land face down on a bare concrete floor. Apparently the lip of the case is JUST enough to prevent any contact whatsoever. No dings on the case either, despite the drop.

    I also like the fact that my carbon fiber backing that came with my atomic fits - one of my concerns when I received the e13ctron was that there was no back protection to speak of - being able to use a standard backing will alleviate at least SOME of that concern (I still question how much protection a sticker will provide...but still).

    Very impressed so far...and curious to see if the "blade", which appears to have a similar design, will offer a similar performance.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #6
    Very good and informative review! Looks like a very nice case that performs equally as nice. It looks like the folks at 313ctron has finally found a way to make an aluminum case work. If chris975d and bigahbeeb are both saying the same thing, it looks like me might actually have a winner. I also like the look of the blade, but since it is made overseas I will not support that case no matter how good the performance is. I have had the chance to get to talk to Mr. Stone and he truly is a up and up guy. Very polite, very professional, all around great to talk to. I think this company will do very well. Again, thanks for the reviews by both of you guys.
     
  7. macrumors 65816

    Rooskibar03

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    State of Denial
    #7
    Chris and BH,

    Since I know you've had them all, how signal strength stand up to the RAW?

    That was the one case that worked most placed, but still zapped my signal completely at home and rendered the phone useless.

    I'm still pretty sold on the Hybrid since it has no affect and still allows me to use my phone where and when I need it. But I like the industrial look of this one as well. (Case Whore, I'll admit it)
     
  8. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    #8
    I did not have an opportunity to try the raw. the best I can tell you is that in my home, I seemed to have lost just a bit of signal strength with the e13ctron on (mind you I live in a god awful reception area), but I never dropped any calls, and GPS worked fine. Oddly, if anything, it seemed to have the most impact on wifi, but again not enough to be of concern.

    This is as compared to alumacase, which destroyed my signal altogether, the exovault 5 which trashed my signal and the 6 which dropped me to edge AND destroyed my signal, and the atomic billet (non hybrid) which killed my signal most of the way as well.

    Basically, of the cases I've seen so far that are all aluminum, the e13ctron is your best bet. I'm still not convinced that it has no impact on the reception, but until I'm back home with tools and time to test, I'm going to go with what my eyes are showing: which is that any signal loss is minimal and not enough to even be concerned with.
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    Rooskibar03

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    State of Denial
    #9
    I'll trade you (temp) my RAW for your e13 for testing at various locations? None of the cases has allowed an incoming or outgoing call from my home, except the aforementioned Hybrid.

     
  10. thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #10
    In my use, I see the two (Raw and e13ctron) being almost dead equal in signal strength. And as you're probably aware, I currently use the Raw as my "benchmark" as best performing (reception-wise) all aluminum case. There might be a very slight edge (by 1, maybe 2 dB of signal strength) to the Raw in some areas, but that's it. And I'll say again, that these aluminum cases (so far) seem to be able to vary widely in regards to reception in different areas around the country, so "your results may vary." I stress that because I can only state how these cases work for me, and it's possible that not everyone country (or world) wide will see the same results. I just like to get that disclaimer out there so that people can't accuse me of saying "brand x's case is the best FOR EVERYONE".

    That being said, if you're having reception issues to the level you're describing, you might be better off staying with the Atomic Hybrid or the Razor Edge composite, since somehow they got away with copying the Atomic exactly, only differing by offering a SIM card cut out. That...and selling it $30 cheaper than Atomic. But you could try the e13tron and tell us how it works in your low signal area. It'd be a good benchmark for what others in similar areas might be able to expect. And if it doesn't work out, they do have a return policy, so you wouldn't be stuck with it.

     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #11
    I have never heard of that Razor Hybrid case. So I looked them up and they almost seem to be the same company who is selling the fake Vapor's on ebay. They even have those listed on their site. Are they are a foreign company?
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #12
    I have no idea about them. I only saw mention of their name in one of the other threads here, and looked it up for myself. On their website, I can't tell if they are selling "fake" Element Vapors, or if they are buying from Element and reselling, as the "Element Vapors" they sell on their webstore have all the markings of the "official" Vapors, and even sell for more than the corresponding Vapors direct from Element. Strange.
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Location:
    MN
    #13
    Pretty tempting--thanks for the review.

    This one is pretty tempting for me. I like the industrial look and it does not look too bulky. A few choices of color never hurts either.

    I was planning on staying caseless until I started noticing some scratches on the camera lens, so now I want something to keep the back glass off of the table. Unique is a plus.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #14
    My orange and clear is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I am pretty exited by all the positive results people are getting from this case. The quality looks great, the anodizing looks good and the case does not hurt performance. I think the guys at e13ctron have finally figured out how to make an aluminum case work. And in my opinion, its the best looking aluminum case on the market.
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #15
    I received my e13ctron case today and it is as advertised. I took vacation for the rest of the week so I got it this morning and have been playing with it ever since. First off the packaging is pretty plain, but as explained, they are working on new packaging. Everything arrived in good shape except for one of the inserts was bent out of shape(could have been the cold weather)but that was the only issue I had. It made it a little more difficult to get everything put together correctly. But once it was on it was as advertised. The finish is EXCELLENT, the fit is terrific also. I am not really going into specific's on performance because I have only been using it a few hours but the signal only dropped maybe 5 db's or so, very very minimal. GPS was pretty accurate, it did take a few seconds longer to lock on to me than usual but once it did, it followed me perfectly. Wifi is also unaffected, my speed is just like it was with the apple bumper. No 3G to test it with yet but overall, this case is terrific. I have NO complaints at all. It looks great, it's very light, the anodizing is great. I would say that this has to be the best looking and performing aluminum case on the market from what I have seen and read. I would take a few pictures but its the same color as bigahbeeb's and wylee's. But I will still take some this evening. Also it fits aftermarket cables and will dock also. The headphone jack is pretty tight but my Bose fit fine, just a little snug. All in all, I would highly recommend this case. Because if it works in my area with terrible service, I would not see why it would not work anywhere unless you are barely getting 1 bar then you might have a problem but I would still say you will be ok. I will post up some pics and a little more feedback later when I have some more time to observe it. Shipping was also very fast, and they were very quick to reply to all my emails. Great people to work with.
     
  16. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    #16
    Waitting for my gold&dark grey, but they say it will ship next Monday. Also my blade metal bumper, when i get them, i would post the pictures of all these cases inculding my satin nickel.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Location:
    MN
    #17
    Looking forward to your photos too. Based on the reviews and photos around here, I am really leaning towards the e13tron case.
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    TheBigKing

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    PR
    #18
    i am thinking to buy this case lol lookg goods
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #19
    I actually ran a few more test last night. I had my phone with the e13ctron case on it and my wife's phone with just an apple bumper on it and the test came out pretty interesting. I put both phones in field test mode at the exact same time in the house and the e13 was actually about 2 db's better than the apple bumper was. I repeated this about 3 more times inside and outside of the house and it was back in forth so I really don't even think that I am losing my first thought of 5 db's with this case, I don't think I am losing any. I also did a wifi test and the e13 still does very good, especially for a all aluminum case but the bumper would give me a little more distance and speed at further distances that the e13 would but the e13 still did very very well, nothing really to be concerned about unless your trying to connect to a router that is 100 yards away going through multiple walls. I still have not got a chance to test the 3G but I will soon enough. Again the GPS is not 100% perfect but dang close, it does take alittle bit longer to lock onto you then the bumper but again, its a aluminum case. I still love this case, its very very light, it looks incredible in person, it will dock and I really can't find any flaws. I would still after a full days worth of use recommend this case very highly! I do have an Atomic case on my wife's phone but I am not going to compare one vendor's case to another, I don't think it is morally right. Again, if you are in a area of very low signal like chris975d had said in his post, you might want to go with the Atomic but the e13 case performs overall very well. I am truly shocked as to how well to be honest but also very pleased. I still have not taken any pictures, sorry about that but the wife has me running around the house bouncing form chore to chore. I do plan on getting another e13 for my daughter though, she absolutely loves the case and the feel of the case. I am just waiting on the guys at e13 to send me some real pictures of some different color combination's that they would recommend in pink and purple. I will try to get some pictures up later today sometime. Again, my results may not be like your's. This is in my area and all area's are different in terms of signal and GPS but as many positive reviews that are out there now about this case. I would feel pretty confident in purchasing it at this time no matter where you live unless like I said you have very very low reception, then you might want to play it safe and go with the Atomic.
     
  20. scelzifan, Dec 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2011

    macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #20
    Sorry guys, I said I was going to post up some pictures of my case a few days ago but I just haven't had time. Today the wife is out shopping so I thought I would snap a few while she was gone. The camera is in her purse and the only other one I had available is about 10 years old now so the pictures are not the best but you get the idea of how well this case is crafted and how well the halves match up and the great anodizing. Unfortunately it is the same color that most of you have already seen but anyways here are a few that I took. Sorry about the quality. Sorry about that, had some technical difficulties with my computer. Here are the pictures take 2!
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  21. macrumors regular

    enemi

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Location:
    England
    #21
    I think you forgot to link pictures. :D
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    #22
    Got it fixed, my computer is being a little stubborn today. Again the pictures are kind of poor but you get the quality of the case and that is what I was going for. The weird stuff in the pictures is my luckly labs. No sure why they look that color, I am guessing its a reflection.
     
  23. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Location:
    Scarborough, United Kingdom
    #23
    Great Review. And thanks for the pics, they look awesome.
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Location:
    MN
    #24
    Thanks for the review (and the photos)! Nice choice of colors. Really does not seem to be too bulky, and I like the direct access to the buttons/controls rather than the additional pieces some use. Too many colors to choose from! (Leaning towards the conservative, industrial, light-gray or dark-gray myself.
     
  25. macrumors regular

    enemi

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Location:
    England
    #25
    Thanks for the pics. ;D
    Case looks awesome and nice colour combination as well :D
     

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