It didn’t take long for manufacturers of aluminum iPhone bumpers and cases to figure out how to solve their fundamental flaw. With early designs, you had to use tools to unscrew the aluminum frame in order to get your iPhone in and out. designed by m saw this and thought, “Sure be easier if you could just slide that frame off.” Thus, we have the AL13 AeroSpace Aluminum Bumper for iPhone 5.
That’s not actually how the story goes (you can read it at the designed by m website), but the result is the same; we’ve now got what’s possibly the most efficient aluminum bumper made for the iPhone. What’s more, it looks fantastic, provides good protection, and is comparitively inexpensive.
Available in gun metal, blue (pictured), slate, silver and red, the AL13 aluminum bumper weighs 14 grams and adds minimal bulk to your iPhone 5. The edges are chamfered (I had to look to it up, too) for a comfortable grip, although the bottom edge isn’t quite as comfortable to grip as the iPhone itself.
It’s the slide cover that gets the most praise from me. To get your iPhone into and out of the AL13, you simply slide the back cover out from the frame; lift at the bottom and pull. No screws, no latches, just a simple slide that locks firmly in place when in use.
It’s easier to get the iPhone out of the AL13 than it is most silicone and plastic cases. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this.
The bumper itself is lined with rubber to hold the iPhone securely in the frame and provide some protection from falls. Additional protection comes in the form of a protective film for the back of the phone and a “… high impact, anti-scratch, anti-fingerprint and anti-glare polyurethane screen protector.” In my photos here, I’m using Moshi’s iVisor XT on the screen. This is worth noting because Moshi’s screen protector is a bit thicker than designed by m’s, but the AL13 still accommodates it.
And not that it impacts the review in any way, but you can see in the photo above that the protective film on the back of the iPhone created a kind of halo effect around the Apple logo and the iPhone name. I actually think that’s kind of cool.
Finally, the AL13 provides easy access to all ports and controls; most importantly, the bottom opening is wide enough to accommodate a Lightning adapter.
The only major drawback is that, this being an aluminum frame, you will notice some signal loss. designed by m claims you’ll experience a 5 to 10% reduction in signal. In my case, that translated to one bar on the display.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a fan of aluminum bumpers, and have been for quite some time. There always came a point, however, where the inconvenience of them outweighed the protection and coolness factor. That won’t be an issue here. If you’ve been holding off on trying an aluminum case, the AL13 aluminum bumper offers the convenience, the design, and the right price for you to finally make the leap into aerospace grade iPhone protection.
See other iPhone 5 case reviews