We recently received a very familiar iPhone 4 case to review, the Kinetic Case. The Kinetic Case is an Aluminum bumper-style case that locks on to your iPhone 4. Why so familiar? Because it’s just like the Element Case for iPhone 4 which we reviewed back in August. Well, not just like it—Kinetic Case has improved on a few of the Element Case features that we had issues with. For starters, Kinetic Case feels smoother, has better cutouts for ports and buttons, and is less expensive than the ElementCase.
The Kinetic Case is made of high-grade aluminum; the same material used on aircrafts and high-end bicycles. The case consists of two L shaped halves that screw together with 4 hex screws; two on each side. The case has four cutouts: a large opening for the headphone jack, a cutout with contoured grooves for the lock button, a similar contoured opening for the volume buttons/vibrate toggle, and a large cutout for the mic/speaker/charging port. The bumper protrudes a couple millimeters past the front and back face of the iPhone. Kinetic Case’s smooth round corners are designed to deflect energy from impact rather then absorb it, hence easing the shock of a drop.
The Kinetic Case package comes with the case, its four hex screws, one hex wrench, a micro fiber cloth, a front and back screen protector, and one acrylic back plate. The clear acrylic back plate was a nice addition in case you don’t want to use an adhesive screen protector on the back of iPhone. Be careful to not trap dust and moisture behind the back plate; it is not always convenient to unscrew the case. The case weighs 35 grams (1.25 ounces); but the heft is just noticeable. There’s a video on KineticCase.com on how to properly attach the case to your iPhone, but it’s pretty straightforward. Just attach both L shapes halves to your phone and screw them on with the included hex wrench. You should fasten the screws tightly otherwise they will loosen and you’ll have no way to tighten them without the hex key.
The Kinetic Case is a huge improvement on the Element Case. We think it looks better too, but that is debatable. When semi-permanently locking your iPhone into a case, it’s essential that the headphone and charging ports can accommodate most any cable–Kinetic Case does. Kinetic Case’s smooth round edges are much more comfortable than squared edges, like Element Case or iPhone 4 sans case. Unfortunately, the smooth round edges can make the grip a little more slippery, so it’s a trade-off. It’s also worth noting that Kinetic Case has a colder touch than you may be accustomed to with other cases. We haven’t noticed any adverse impact on wireless signal strength from using the metal case. The Q&A on KineticCase.com mentions that some people have noticed reception issues while using the optional carbon fiber back plate.
While the Kinetic Case is the best metal bumper case out there right now, we at Chip Chick are still not sold on semi-permanently binding our iPhone 4 to a case. The case works with most any charging cable, but not any docking station. For nerds like us, it’s risky to not have complete access to our phone and it’s ports at all times. Sure, we can carry the hex key around with us, but it’s still a few-minute-process to take the case off or put it back on. There’s no extra screws included, so we have that to worry about too.
Currently the Kinetic Case is available from KineticCase.com in Black, Blue, Red, Orange, Pink, and Silver. It costs $65, which is $15 less than the ElementCase Vapor4. A non-black case may cost you an additional two week turn around time. For an extra $10, Kinetic Case will also throw in a carbon fiber back plate.
The Good: Improvement on Element Case, smooth design, comes with front and back protection, good access to ports and buttons
The Bad: Need to use a hex wrench remove or apply case, slippery grip, no SIM access, won’t work with most docking stations