GadgeTell Review: Incipio ATLAS ID Case for iPhone 5/5s

Sections: Accessories, Apple, Communications, Mobile, Reviews, Smartphones

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Even though most smartphones have solid construction and [usually] Corning’s Gorilla Glass, they’re still highly susceptible to damage. Even with the subsidies offered by signing two-year contracts with service providers, top-end models are still rather pricey. One could get Chromebook or laptop for the price of a Galaxy Note 3 or iPhone 5.

Incipio ATLAS ID iPhone 5 case contents

Box contents

The worst a smartphone suffers from a critical drop is typically a cracked screen. But when it comes to water, it’s usually the kiss of death. Today, consumers have a number of case options for their phones, which include protection and proofing against water.

With the recent release of the iPhone 5s, Incipio has designed their ATLAS ID case to provide maximum protection for everyday use as well as rugged adventure. If you’re one to hit up pools, beaches, or lakes, the ATLAS ID case will keep your companion snug and dry.

Design & Handling

The Incipio ATLAS ID case for the iPhone 5/5s is familiar to other cases, with respect to the two-piece snap design. Where it differs from many is how the halves interlock and overlap, forming a tight seal.

Incipio ATLAS ID iPhone 5 case back

Rubber backing prevents internal scratches

It’s pretty easy to slide the iPhone in and click the case together – not so much when you want to take the smartphone out. But this is the kind of protection you’d want and expect from a case that touts waterproof capability.

The inside of the case has rubber “ribs” spaced out to keep the iPhone centered and not touching any plastic on the sides. The interior of the case’s back half is covered with a rubber pad as well. If you want a case that’s going to protect your iPhone and keep it scratch- and abrasion-free, this is a good choice.

I’ve owned cases, by well-known and reputable manufacturers, which jacked the finish on my devices due to plastic maintaining contact and with constant rubbing. The Incipio ATLAS ID keeps the iPhone 5/5s looking out-of-the-box pristine.

Incipio ATLAS ID iPhone 5 case front

Also notice the “ribs” which keep the iPhone from touching plastic

This case has a distinctively rugged feel to it. The contours and texturing on the back provide grip as well as nice aesthetic. What I really like about the ATLAS ID case is how the protection doesn’t add a lot of bulk. It can fit in bag/backpack pockets where other ultra-protective cases can’t.

The cutouts for the cameras and LED lights are precise and unobtrusive. The speaker and microphone ports aren’t covered with glass, but with a water-resistant membrane.

The sound transmission through it (outside of being immersed in water) is pretty good. The volume comes through well enough to listen to, at least if you’re holding the phone. Sounds become muffled if you set it down flat. Also, the bottom speaker port produces a faint white-noise-like hiss. It’s more noticeable with certain types of music than others, especially as the volume is increased.

The power and volume buttons click pretty well with a resistance that’s not too stiff. The mute switch isn’t quite as flexible, but it works. The real challenge comes with the waterproof audio plug extender. This is no joke! When you have that seated in, it’s in and will challenge you when you want to take it out. This, of course, is desirable to prevent any accidents from allowing water to breach the ATLAS ID’s defenses.

Glass Screen Protector

One of the highlights of the Incipio ATLAS ID case for the iPhone 5/5s is the built-in tempered glass screen protector. Compared to polymer or plastic screen protectors, tempered glass is harder and far more resistant to scratches and cuts.

Incipio ATLAS ID iPhone 5 case screen

Some sticking and rainbow’ing sometimes happens

Unless a polymer screen protector is considered “self healing”, it can (and will), over time, collect imperfections that can be seen and felt.

I’ve taken a sharp knife edge to the screen protector on the ATLAS ID case. You’d never know the difference. I’ve consecutively landed my iPhone 5 on it’s face from over 5 feet high, and the glass hasn’t warped or shattered.

The tempered glass has excellent transparency and pretty good touch sensitivity. Although the iPhone 5 is snug in the case, it doesn’t maintain full contact with the screen protector.

Incipio ATLAS ID iPhone 5 case cutouts

Easy access for charging and audio

When you compare the ATLAS ID’s screen protector to direct-application types (wet or dry), it won’t feel as accurate. However, built-in glass protectors aren’t near as prone to edge chipping/damage.

Another benefit of the built-in glass screen protector is that particles and dust are immediately fixable. Just pull out the iPhone, wipe the inside with the included microfiber cloth, and try again.

Sometimes the ATLAS ID glass sticks to an area of the iPhone’s screen, producing a slight rainbow effect in that area. If you catch the light just right, the entirety of the tempered glass has a bit of rainbow’ing all over. Thankfully, it’s not something that shows up during normal use – only if you’re looking for it.

Drop Tests

Incipio ATLAS ID iPhone 5 case plug

This plug is the real deal

The Incipio ATLAS ID case for the iPhone 5/5s keeps the phone wrapped up tight, even with perilous plunges. The case handles chest-high drops and waist-high flings like a pro.

The glass screen protector is still unmarred; unless it lands face-first on a rock or similar, the glass won’t touch flat ground due to the case.

Hits on the corners of the ATLAS ID case are of a slightly different matter, especially if the iPhone tumbles end over end. With the right bounce on a corner, either initial or successive, the bottom latch that covers the ports will pop open.

It still remains attached, of course, and the rest of the case remains sealed. But if this happens around water, dirt, or mud, it’s a sure-fire way to have it touch the iPhone.


True to claim and purpose of the ATLAS ID case, my iPhone 5 was able to play in and around water while remaining bone dry. Thrown into a pool and immediately fished out? No big deal. Dunked into a pitcher of water for 15 minutes? Works exactly as intended.

Since I have an iPhone 5 and not 5s, I wasn’t able to test out the fingerprint sensor.

Getting the iPhone out of the ATLAS ID case can be a bit of a pain, and the built-in tempered glass screen protector isn’t exactly like the directly-applied kind. Other than that, the case is a top contender in terms of protective qualities versus the bulk. If you plan to hike, bike, surf, or swim while using smartphone functions or taking photos, the ATLAS ID for the iPhone 5/5s lets you do all that with piece of mind.

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