The Crimson Aluminum Frame was one of my favorite aluminum cases for the iPhone 4/4S, so I knew what to expect when I received our review unit for the Aluminum Frame Case for iPhone 5: quality craftsmanship, attractive color, and solid protection from drops and bumps. Crimson continues to deliver a good product at a great price, but they’ve yet to address the issue of getting the case on and off of your iPhone.
Whenever you look at aluminum frame cases, you’re likely to find words like “precision CNC machined” and “aircraft grade aluminum.” What’s more likely to matter to you are weight, design, and application. The Crimson Aluminum iPhone 5 case weighs in at only 16 grams, so it adds practically nothing to your iPhone in that regard. You will feel its presence, however, as the edges stick out a bit from the sides of the phone. It’s not at all uncomfortable to hold, but it certainly does feel different.
Thankfully, the top and bottom (as well as the volume button area) drop down to sit flush with the phone, making it easy to access all controls, and more importantly, to dock your device. You won’t need to remove the case when connecting your iPhone 5 with most devices, and that’s important because removing the case requires tools.
The Aluminum Frame Case is held in place via screws in each corner. The screws attach (and align) the TPE corner guards that securely hold your phone in place and provide the shock protection from drops. Great for protection, but bad for convenience, as you’ll need the included hex wrench to get the phone out of the case. Lose that wrench, and you’ve got some trouble ahead.
The wide open design of the frame does leave room for your iPhone 5 to get scratched, but Crimson includes a screen protector with the case (or you can buy their anti-smudge, anti-glare or sparkle screen protectors). The frame offers no protection for the sides or back, however, aside from keeping them from contacting surfaces, so I recommend looking at skins or clear surface protectors for complete protection.
The Crimson cases are available in black, silver, red and pink for $44.95. Polished gold and chrome are currently out of stock, but are listed on the site at $54.95 and $64.95 respectively.
I continue to prefer aluminum cases for my iPhone, and Crimson is my model of choice at the moment. I like the protection it provides, I like how it can complement a skin if I want it, and I love the way it looks. I just wish there was a better way to get it on and off. A couple aluminum frame developers are coming up with tool-free methods to make this happen, so hopefully Crimson does with its next iteration as well.