Esoterism’s Moat-5 aluminum bumper for iPhone 5/5s is made with same fine craftsmanship and attention to detail as their more expensive Embrace-5. The price difference between the two starts at $20, depending upon the model chosen, and that’s $20 worth spending. Although the Moat-5 is a good option versus most Esoterism competitors, it gets two design elements completely wrong that the Embrace-5 got completely right.
Let’s start with the good. The Moat-5 is another clear indicator of Esoterism’s precision CNC craftsmanship and attention to every facet of the design. The aluminum frame is incredibly light (18 grams) and very comfortable to hold. It hugs your iPhone with precision but without applying too much pressure, and the non-conductive inner liner keeps it secure and safe from scratches. You may notice a drop-off in reception, but this is a problem with nearly all aluminum bumpers.
The color options are an odd choice, with two shades of gray (cement and phantom), two apparent shades of green (fortune and neon hopper), snowy white and Columbian gold (which costs $30 more at $99.99). It’s not a very diverse selection, and doesn’t include the better colors from the Embrace-5 line. However, our review unit—the cement gray option—is a very attractive color that complements the space gray iPhone 5s quite well.
The top of the the Moat-5 includes an opening to attach a lanyard, and the iPhone’s power button is covered by an external button that’s very responsive. The mute switch and volume button opening is quite tight, however, and makes getting to the volume more difficult than it should be.
The larger problems, however, surface when you need to place or remove the the Moat-5 frame; you’ll need to remove two tiny screws with an included Allen wrench (two replacement screws are also provided). I’ve always found this annoying, and I’m pleased to see aluminum bumper developers are finding ways around this, as Esoterism did so beautifully with their Embrace-5. Here, it’s a hassle that’s compounded by the fact that you won’t be able to dock your iPhone with most third-party devices while it’s in the Moat-5. The bottom frame protrudes from the device, and although you can certainly attach your Lightning cable, you won’t be able to rest the iPhone 5/5s in most third-party docks without use of an adapter.
The result is that you’ll likely have to get out that Allen wrench with frequency.
So, how do you use your iPhone? If it tends to stand alone most of the time, the Moat-5 is a beautifully designed, incredibly light aluminum bumper that offers basic protection while retaining the iPhone’s sophisticated, “forward-thinking” appearance. If you want even more protection, you can include the compatible Alcantra Back Plate for $19.00 (out of stock at press time).
However, the Esoterism Embrace-5 is just as beautiful, offers more interesting color options, can be applied and removed via its unique twist knob (no screws required) and can be docked with many third-party accessories, and it only costs $20 more. It’s your choice, but I’m confident you’ll do the right thing.