From the first aluminum frame case I reviewed for the iPhone, I’ve had two main complaints—difficulty in getting your phone in and out of the frame, and the inability to dock your phone while it’s in the frame. Lately, some unique designs have solved one or the other. The Just Mobile AluFrame for iPhone 5 is the first I’ve tried that solves both.
Aluminum frame cases surround the edges of your phone like bumpers, and are usually held in place with small screws that you need to remove in order get your phone in and out. If no screwdriver small enough is handy, or if you lose the usually included screwdriver or one of the screws, you’re out of luck. Not a worry with the Just Mobile AluFrame, which uses a simple latch mechanism to open and close, as shown below in its unlatched state.
Getting it open is simple; just push the latch in and it pops free, allowing you pull that whole side away from the phone on a hinge at the opposite corner.
To close it, push it back into place until it snaps. That simple.
The “aerospace-grade aluminum” frame is lined with a protective layer of rubber that cushions your phone from drops and bumps, but is also used to hold the phone within the frame; your phone won’t actually touch the metal. This is good, because it prevents unwanted scuffs and also allows you to use front and back screen protectors (both included) without the frame bunching up their edges. If you look at the first photo above, you’ll see that there’s enough clearance between the frame and the phone to allow some light to get through at the mute switch opening.
Speaking of that, although the AluFrame is kind of deep around the edges (it adds a notable width increase to your iPhone), the mute switch is very easy to access. Similarly, the external volume and power buttons on the frame are responsive and precisely aligned.
The other great feature, however, is the opening at the bottom. Although the frame does extend around the bottom, it’s cut wide enough to accommodate most headphone jacks and, more importantly, the Lightning adapter. In other words, you likely won’t have to remove the iPhone from the AluFrame when you want to dock it.
The AluFrame for iPhone 5 suffers a couple setbacks, one of which could be a deal breaker. First, it’s only available in black and silver (our review unit was provided in black). Not a huge problem, but I’d love to see this in some of the colors of Just Mobile’s AluPen. Second, you’re going to lose some signal when the iPhone is in the AluFrame. Outside the frame, I easily get five bars with AT&T at my house. Once the AluFrame is on, I immediately drop to four bars, sometimes even three. Thankfully, this isn’t a huge issue for me; I mostly use my phone at home and at work where I’m on Wi-Fi, and rarely for actual phone calls. When I’m at E3 next month, though, where the signal is generally pretty awful already on the expo floor, I won’t need the AluFrame to exacerbate the problem.
As signal degradation is common amongst aluminum frames, however, you may be able to overlook it to get the Lightning adapter compatibility and the wonderfully designed latch release mechanism. In that regard, the Just Mobile AluFrame is the best aluminum frame I’ve used yet, and will therefore be my case of choice for quite some time.
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Product: Just Mobile AluFrame for iPhone 5
Provides: Protection from bumps, drops and scrapes
Developer: Just Mobile
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 5