The Embrace-5 is my favorite aluminum bumper I’ve used on an iDevice. It’s quite possibly my favorite iPhone case of any type. The designers at Esoterism got nearly everything right, including their method of addressing a couple of major problems inherent with aluminum frames: removal and dockability. In fact, their answers to these problems are so great that solving just one means they wouldn’t have had to worry much about the other.
The major issue I’ve had with aluminum bumpers is that they tend to require screws to get them on and off. Most ship with an Allen wrench for this purpose, which is hardly convenient; if you don’t have that handy, you can’t get the bumper off. And when you do, you run the risk of losing the tiny screws. To remove the Embrace-5, you simply need your fingers. The top center of the bumper features a knob much like that on an analog watch, only larger, of course. To remove the iPhone 5 or 5s from the Embrace-5, you simply unscrew the knob and pull back the sides of the bumper, which pivot at the lower left and right.
To put the iPhone back in, press your iPhone into the bottom of the frame, pull up the sides again, latch them at the top, and screw in the knob. It’s brilliant…and it looks cool, too.
The interior of the frame is lined with a rubber material that protects your iPhone and holds it securely within the bumper. The bumper itself overlaps the edges of the back of your phone, but only does so on the bottom of the front. It rises a bit above the surface on the front and back, so you’re secure in placing your iPhone on a table either way. If you would like more protection for the back, alcantara back plates are available in titanium gray and opus noir for an additional $19.00. These are meant to complement all available Embrace-5 colors: opus noir, rosy cheek, Kyoho sauvignon, cigar mojito, champagne blush, space gray and oyster blue. The names are pretty fancy, yes, but when you see the colors, you’ll agree that they make sense.
To see how the Embrace-5t can work with third-party iPhone skins, read my recent article on How to create a custom NFL iPhone case.
I mentioned earlier the problem with docking aluminum bumpers. Esoterism solved this issue by simply bringing the bottom of the frame flush with the iPhone. So long as your third-party dock allows a little extra width as the front and back of the phone, you won’t need to remove the bumper in order to dock your iPhone 5. It’s simply fantastic.
I do have two minor issues with the Embrace-5, one of which is expected, the other one totally unfair. First, because of the aluminum construction around the edges of your iPhone, you’re likely to lose a signal dot. This is common amongst nearly all aluminum bumpers I’ve used. Second, because the fit is so precise, you won’t be able to use edge skins with the Embrace-5. You mostly won’t need to, of course, but I would’ve liked to keep my Slickwrap on the bottom edge, since it’s unprotected. With even that tiny overlap to the sides, I couldn’t close the Embrace-5 over the phone. That’s some excellent engineering.
At $89.00, the Embrace-5 is a worthy product. At press time, however, you can get the opus noir, rosy cheek, and Kyoho sauvignon colors at only $57.00. No matter whether you’re treating someone else or yourself, the Embrace-5 will raise the sophistication level of the iPhone 5. And until now, I wouldn’t have thought that possible.