(FINAL PRODUCT REVIEW ADDED) Fusionwerkz Sabre aluminum hybrid case preview

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by chris975d, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. chris975d, Feb 13, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011

    chris975d macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #1
    For the past few days I've been testing out a very early prototype of the upcoming Fusionwerkz Sabre hybrid case, and thought I'd post some early impressions and images for anyone that might be interested in this case that's scheduled to be released soon.

    As far as design of this case, originally the Sabre (for some of you that might remember) started out as a concept that was very similar in design to the Element Vapor. After many tweaks and design changes, the Sabre slowly morphed into what I would describe as a hybrid material (aluminum and composite), more protective version of the Raw, which compliments the Raw very well.

    Initial Impressions:

    First of all, keep in mind that this is a VERY early, very rough prototype. The front brushed aluminum part of my test case here isn't even anodized yet, just raw aluminum (that's how early of a proto this is). With that being said, my initial impressions of the Sabre hybrid are that it's a very well made (even in prototype form), very well thought out case. A few minor things have been changed already in the final design, such as the "grip" looking engraving on the right side of the case in the pictures below has been removed and "FUSIONWERKZ" will be engraved down that side instead (to compliment the "SABRE" that's engraved down the left side). Other minor tweaks are things like making an even more spacious opening at the top and bottom of the case to allow for maximum accessory (headphones, docks, cables, etc) compatibility.

    The case is a "sandwich" design (has a front and back) which screws together with hex bolts from the back. The phone rests in the back CNC-milled composite (plastic-like material) part of the case, which comes up and surrounds the phone on all sides as well. The CNC-milled aluminum front frame attaches to the case in each corner, framing the front of the device in aluminum. It has a lot of the same design elements of the original Raw (which is one of my favorite aluminum cases), yet at the same time incorporates most, if not all of the improvements that I thought could be made to that case. First of all, it incorporates some back protection in the form of the partial back/cross-member piece that covers the middle third of the phone's back. This also adds a LOT of structural rigidity to the case as well. It also adds side protection to the original design of the open sided Raw, which further strengthen the overall design/feel of the case. Additionally, the front aluminum frame slots down into the composite back at each of the four corners (hopefully you can see this interlocking system in the pics below), adding a great deal of strength/protection at the corners. So, as you can probably surmise after me saying all of that...this case is the most sturdy, solid feeling hybrid case I've reviewed/tested so far (which includes the Xcel case, e13ctron hybrid, Atomic hybrid). I'd have no reservations about my phone being protected if dropped (from a reasonable distance) in this case at all. Then again, if you look in my review thread of the all aluminum Raw, I did a drop test with my phone in that case on a tile floor, and it held up just fine as well.

    As far as usability, the Sabre hybrid retains all the button/headphone/dock connector access of the Raw. The top and bottom are fairly shallow cut-outs that run most of the width of the phone in those areas, so this should allow maximum compatibility with most cables/docks (my Logitech PureFi Anywhere docks fine), as well as most headphone connectors. The cut-out for the vibrate switch/volume buttons is one large cut-out (as opposed to a separate cut-out for the vibrate switch), which automatically makes this case VERIZON COMPATIBLE. The button cut-outs aren't too deep, which should make reaching the buttons easy for even the largest of fingers. With this unique "partial closed back" design, there is no camera flash interference when taking low light photos (where the camera flash is utilized). In the hand, this case feels very good. It's design follows the lines of the iPhone very well, and doesn't add a lot of bulk to the phone at all. The sides aren't too thick, so the case doesn't feel overly wide in the hand. The front aluminum frame is the perfect thickness, and is far enough away from the edge of the phone as to not interfere with operation of the touchscreen near the edges of the case at all (at least for me, and I have fairly average fingers), like some thicker cases do. The open design of the back shows off the iPhone's "Apple" logo as well as the "iPhone" script near the bottom of the phone, yet still offers substantial drop and "lay on the table" protection of the back glass.

    Wireless performance:

    Being a hybrid/composite design, the Sabre essentially eliminates the reduced cell reception that some users experienced with the earlier Fusionwerkz Raw. I've tested this hybrid case along side my e13ctron hybrid and Atomic hybrid, and all 3 show cell reception to within 1 dB of each other, and that small of a difference I chalk up to normal signal discrepancy. And as with those other 2 hybrid cases, the Sabre has shown no detrimental effect on my wifi, GPS, or Bluetooth performance. So in essence, this case performs as well as any polycarbonate/plastic case I've tried (just like the e13ctron and Atomic hybrids).


    All in all, I really like this case, even in it's prototype state. It's a very strong, substantial-feeling hybrid case that performs as well as the best aluminum hybrid cases currently on the market, yet doesn't add much bulk at all, while still following the lines/shape of the phone and also showing off as much of the phone's design as possible. This case should be available for shipping within 3-4 weeks (maybe sooner), and the front aluminum piece will initially be offered in gunmetal, black, silver, blue, red, orange, pink, yellow. For reference, my aluminum front below is raw, non-anodized aluminum (just a test piece before being sent to the anodizer), but would be basically the "silver" color once shipped..if you like the look of mine below.


    Pics (click any pic to enlarge):

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  2. TheBigKing macrumors 65816

    TheBigKing

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    PR
    #2
    excellent info chris i have own 4 aluminum cases the blade ,vapor , atomic, and electron the best performance to me is the atomic never signal lost or everything the vapor and the el3ctron same performance to me only lose one bar and the blade go to 1 and 2 bars :D
     
  3. SchneiderMan macrumors G3

    SchneiderMan

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Location:
    Apple state
    #3
    I really dislike the looks of this case. I don't even bother reviewing stuff I don't like. Great review though!
     
  4. Austin M. macrumors 6502a

    Austin M.

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Washington
    #4
    Same here, I though it looked cool at first, but after looking at the back, ehh. :eek:
     
  5. chris975d thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #5
    What would you guys like to see be done with it? It is specifically the back design that you don't like? I could see how that might be a polarizing design. I personally think it looks great from the front however.
     
  6. indyzzzz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    #6
    nm about my first comment, need to use glasses :p

    Also i agree with the other members, case does look a bit ugly:p. Its the back of th case chris.

    Is the font of the case available in black instead of silver ?
     
  7. chris975d thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #7
    It might not show up in the pictures, but the case does have a pretty significant (but not too deep) "lip" around the screen to protect it during drops and from scratches. If you can see the lip that's on the back of the phone, the front is about the same depth as that.

    Mine is just a rough cut prototype, so my aluminum front hasn't even been anodized or colored (just raw, soft aluminum). The front aluminum piece will initially be offered in gunmetal, black, silver, blue, red, orange, pink, yellow.

    As far as back design goes, give some feedback. I'm not sure if it's gone to final production yet, so maybe through feedback you all might could get the back design tweaked. Would it look better as more of a completely "closed" back?
     
  8. Austin M. macrumors 6502a

    Austin M.

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
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    Washington
    #8
    The front looks awesome, it;s the back that needs to be either full covered or full open.
     
  9. chris975d thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
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    #9
    Cool. I can pass any constructive criticism you guys give back to the designer and see what happens. Would you think a closed back, but somehow showing off the Apple logo would work? Or just all closed?
     
  10. Bonsai1214 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Penfield, NY
    #10
    the volume and silent switch look really deep in the side of the case.
     
  11. SchneiderMan macrumors G3

    SchneiderMan

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Location:
    Apple state
    #11
    Yeah I would say so.
     
  12. fadethreeblack macrumors member

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    Jul 30, 2010
    #12
    All open IMO
     
  13. chris975d thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

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    #13
    You don't think that ends up looking a lot like the other aluminum/composite hybrids out on the market right now?
     
  14. essdee macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    #14
    I think it's the big bar going across the back that kills it. Btw, I actually like the look of the raw aluminum top!
     
  15. guccigucci88 macrumors 6502a

    guccigucci88

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    #15
    this is basically a slightly nicer versian of the armadillo (i think its called) aluminum case.
     
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  17. chris975d thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #17
    This is just a quick hack Photoshop job by me, so please excuse the gradient screw ups in the center of the phone, but would the image below of an "open back" be something you guys would like more? Please keep in mind this is just my idea, and not something Fusionwerkz has said they will do. Just trying to get an idea of what you guys would think looks better.

    Click to enlarge (and please remember this is a poor Photoshop attempt! :D ):

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  18. Austin M. macrumors 6502a

    Austin M.

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Location:
    Washington
    #18
    I think that you should cover up the back and put something cool on it.
     
  19. iamartimus macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    #19
    I personally think that the back bar should be removed and your edited picture looks much nicer. It also appears from the pictures, that the top and bottom opening are fairly deep, possibly making it difficult to use docks and to reach the top switch, although I know you state that it is fairly shallow. It appears deep in the pics.
    Other than that, it looks like a nice, solid case. What kind of price point are we looking at?
     
  20. gcarlucci macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Location:
    Herndon, VA
    #20
    Bravo to Fusion for working on a truly functional case now. the composite/metal does not look bad at all. Bravo to Atomic for thinking outside the box with the Hybrid / Composites with Aluminum.

    Whats Fusions web link to order?

    Guillermo
     
  21. pablo7 macrumors 6502

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    LOS ANGELES, CA.
  22. obyte macrumors regular

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  23. weisjt macrumors 6502a

    weisjt

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    Location:
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    #23
    no bar on the back will just make it look like every other case, i think that it is a little to square looking although that is what there design is like. ok looking case from front.
     
  24. fadethreeblack macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #24
    yeah, it would...but i really like how the back of the phone looks (plus, you can customize it with different carbon fiber/leather/color skins).
     
  25. chris975d thread starter macrumors 68000

    chris975d

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #25
    Ok...wanted to bring you guys up to speed on what's happened with this case. Phil at Fusionwerkz has taken the suggestions you guys gave here and made two additional models of this Sabre case...the Sabre open back, and the Sabre closed back. How's THAT for listening to customer feedback! :) I've gotten both of these models in for review, so here it is.

    Initial Impressions:

    Fusionwerkz has really listened to all the feedback that has been given about both their original RAW case, and the Sabre prototype that I posted above, and made what I feel are two great additions to the Sabre family. With these cases, the aluminum front frames will interchange with all 3 backs (the partial open back I originally posted above, the full open back, and the full closed back), and each back will be available separately, so that you can have multiple backs if you so choose.

    The final product here is amazing. They're really reworked the front aluminum frame, thinning it down and adding more of a taper/bevel on the inside, closest to the screen. It's a subtle change (compare the front aluminum frame in the below pics to the prototype in my first post above), but it really makes a difference in how refined the case looks from the front, and really reduces/eliminates any interference (from the case) in using the touch screen at the outermost edges. The finish on the composite back material (for both the full open and full closed) is blasted finish, which creates an almost "soft-touch" effect that feels great in the hand...not too slippery, and certainly not too rough. The finish on the aluminum has been refined since the introduction of the original RAW case as well, and feels much more smooth to the touch.

    The cutouts on the top of the case have been tweaked, and the sleep button and headphone jack have been given their own separate holes (instead of the long unified cutout on the prototype above), which looks better, as well as adds strength to the top of the case. The vibrate cutout has been slightly enlarged, along with the area immediately surrounding the dock connector along the bottom of the case. As far as compatibility with dock accessories, so far all 3rd party dock cables I own have worked with this case, as well as all speaker docks, so I don't see too many issues occurring there.

    As far as compatibility of this case with the Verizon iPhone, if you look at the pics below, you'll see that because of the single, elongated vibrate switch/volume button cutout, it WILL work with BOTH the At&T/GSM iPhone, as well as the Verizon model.


    Wireless Performance:

    Not much to say here really, since there's not been a major redesign since the prototype, but more of a subtle tweaking. The performance of the final designs is identical to that of the prototype (read my initial post above for detailed info), which is that it performs virtually identically to the other aluminum hybrids on the market, and doesn't affect reception at all. So this should be a non-issue for anyone interested in this case.


    Final evaluation:

    All in all this has shaped up to be a great case/family of cases. I can't really find anything wrong with it. There's multiple back offerings to accommodate any customer, many different front aluminum colors, and all the parts are interchangeable, so you can mix things up as you go, and add to it later. The performance is excellent, and is no different than any all plastic case out there. As far as aluminum hybrids go, this is the strongest, sturdiest feeling case on the market at this time (I have all the hybrids available at time of writing). And at the price point Fusionwerkz is bringing this to market ($55), I don't think you can go wrong!

    ADDED: These cases begin shipping tomorrow. http://www.fusionwerkz.com


    Pics (click to enlarge):

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    My personal daily combo right now (blue front, full open back, with my transparent and gold back plate):

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