Aluminum bumper cases tend to be amongst the best looking protective devices you can wrap around your iPhone. Sometimes it’s the precise cut and sleek curves, other times it’s the metallic, sheen, but almost always it’s the sophisticated flair and high tech look they bring to an already hight tech device.
We’ve reviewed many aluminum bumpers, but this showdown is going to be a different as both cases are products of DRACOdesign.
Draco iPhone 6 Aluminum Bumper Case Common Features
Both the Draco 6 and the Tigris are handcrafted from aircraft grade A6061 aluminum for a strong but exceptionally lightweight build. Getting your iPhone 6 in and out requires the use of two tiny screws and the included screwdriver. Two additional screws are included with each in case you should lose one, and that’s a very distinct possibility considering their size.
Once in the bumpers, your iPhone is protected from drops via the shock absorbing corner padding. However, the protection comes only from the sides and corners. Neither case covers the back of your iPhone, and neither rises enough beyond the screen to offer protection there, either. In fact, the fit is so precise on the edges that the protruding rear camera also lifts beyond both the Draco 6 and the Tigris.
Draco 6 Aluminum Bumper Case
Billed as “the essential fashion companion,” the Draco 6 is pretty much Draco’s flagship model. It shares the company name, after all. And why not? In all my years of reviewing aluminum bumper cases, this is—I can say with certainty—the best looking one I’ve ever seen. Available in multiple colors (including luxury gold and silver, a Ducati branded design, and a custom option), the Draco 6 shines with the elegance of a well-crafted watch. Our review unit was the electric blue model, pictured at right.
Whichever color you go with, you’ll get a silver strip around the edge to brighten up the design and draw attention to the curves. The Draco 6 flares out at the top and bottom on both sides, which has the odd effect of actually making your iPhone 6 look smaller. It also provides a comfortable, firm grip.
The screws for the Draco 6 are both placed in the bottom of the case, tucked into recessed areas to keep them hidden from view. Sliding the phone in and out when the screws are off is simple enough, and requires no pressure.
Unfortunately, the Draco 6 has a couple major problems. First, as with all aluminum bumpers, there is significant cell signal interference. I’m used to losing a bar when my iPhone is in an aluminum bumper, but there were times here where I actually lost two. Still, that comes with the territory. What doesn’t is the inability to use my headphones and even one of my Lightning cables. The cutouts for these items at the bottom of the case are so deep and tight that I couldn’t fit a few of my cables in. Apple products worked—their EarPods and Lightning cable—but my favorite headphones wouldn’t, nor would my Juno Power Kaebo.
In this case, Draco sacrificed key compatibility for the sake of design. As much as I love the look of the Draco 6, I wouldn’t use it regularly because of accessory incompatibility. If your accessory needs are more basic, however, you should check out the Draco 6 at dracodesign.com starting at $89.99.
The Tigris Aluminum Bumper
The headphone / Lightning port problems are less of an issue with the Tigris Aluminum Bumper, which features the same aircraft grade A6061 aluminum, but with a much more modest cut. The top and bottom edges don’t flare out nearly as far, which means there’s less cell signal interference, and the bottom is able to sit closer to the actual phone. In addition, areas around the Lightning and headphone openings are cut down a bit further, so I had no problem connecting any of my Lightning or headphone cables.
However, as with the Draco 6, the Tigris will need to be removed if you want to connect your iPhone 6 with any third-party docks. This is problematic, because the tiny screws are very easy to lose. In fact, so is the screwdriver that comes with them. Many aluminum bumper case developers are finding innovative ways to eliminate the use of screws, and I would like to see DracoDesign do the same.
One other problem with the Tigris is that the rubber volume and sleep/wake button covers don’t stay in the frame when it’s not on your phone, so that’s another element you have to keep track of when removing it.
In the meantime, you still get a really sharp looking bumper that’s available in meteor black, graphite gray, champagne gold, Sakura pink, galactic purple, flare red, and astro silver, all of which are accented by a strip of silver around the screen. Unfortunately, you also get the same lack protection for the back that Draco 6 has, including the protruding camera lens. I don’t recommend the use of either case without a skin and screen protector.
Despite these complaints and reservations, I quite like the Tigris. It’s very comfortable to hold, it doesn’t add much bulk to your iPhone, and it’s exceptionally light. It’s not quite as striking as the Draco 6, but it’s still a head turner, and it looks natural sitting on your iPhone 6.
And the Winner Is…
I’m going to surprise even myself by selecting the Tigris. First of all, at only $49.99, it’s $40 cheaper than the least expensive Draco 6. I’ve reviewed aluminum bumpers that were much more expensive and not so nearly well made.
Second, although I’m willing to (or at least expect to) give up docking capabilities with aluminum bumpers, I will not give up my favorite headphones and Lightning cables. DracoDesign needs to find a way to widen the input areas for universal acceptance of these accessories.
Either way, I could forgive the compatibility problems of both cases if the there was a way to remove the case without the use of a proprietary (and exceptionally tiny screwdrivers). Hopefully, DracoDesign will find a way around this. In the meantime, you’ll get equal satisfaction from which model you chose, so go with the one closer to your design tastes. Just be sure to get a screen protector and some sort of back protection, too, and don’t plan on taking the bumper off much…if at all.
For more case options recommendations see our roundup of iPhone 6 case reviews.