iPhone 5 hasn’t seen true elegance until its tried on ElementCase’s Ronin, the exotic wood bumper bonded with CNC aircraft-grade aluminum. The Ronin transforms iPhone 5 into a brand new phone. It doesn’t just look good and feel good, ElementCase equips Ronin with add-ins to offer iPhone 360 degree protection.
At its most basic level, the ElementCase Ronin is a bumper for iPhone. It’s casing that runs around the sides of iPhone with raised edges on the front and back. Unlike Apple’s Bumper (for iPhone 4/4S) Ronin doesn’t stretch over iPhone, instead it securely locks around it, by use of included hex screws and key. The lock provides a more secure and protective fit; Ronin becomes one with iPhone.
The side bumpers of the ElementCase Ronin is beautiful CNC Machined exotic south american ziricote hardwood. Unlike iPhone, the Ronin isn’t cold to the touch, it’s smooth, warm and soft to touch. There’s an incredible amount of detail in the wood that makes the entire design pop. The top and bottom bumpers are polished aluminum, the entire case is so light that you could mistake the metal for a light plastic, but once you see how well the aluminum holds up with use, you won’t question it.
There’s aluminum button overlays for the volume and lock buttons, and one really interesting addition – an aluminum toggle switch overlay. You don’t have to squeeze your finger into a tiny hole to flip iPhone’s vibrate toggle. ElementCase’s toggle switch works perfectly and is real easy to access. The button overlays, on the other hand, are Ronin’s weak link. It requires the buttons to be perfectly lined up when you apply the case, and even then you’ll have some mixed results. For instance, pushing anywhere on the top bumper activates my lock button.
There’s four screws keeping the Ronin securely sealed around iPhone. There’s no wiggle room, the case literally becomes an extension of iPhone. The hex screws require the included screwdriver keychain. Unfortunately it’s not the quickest process, though it’s nothing too complicated. With two screws and one side removed, iPhone slides in and out of the bumper. There’s 2 extra screws in case you happen to lose one. There’s also adhesive side guards that can be applied to the sides of your phone before applying the case.
As for protection, the Ronin bumper as is is alright–it has raised edges, very durable corners, and a buffer for iPhone’s faces. ElementCase packages Ronin with a screen protector and an adhesive ultrasuede backplate. Whether you want to use them is your choice, but it offers a ton of extra protection. The screen protector is great and looks/feels invisible. It is, however, susceptible to bubbling, so be careful when applying it.
This is now the second iPhone 5 ElementCase we’ve reviewed and each provides iPhone a drastically different personality in extremely stylish and premium packages. The Sector 5 case made iPhone look super industrial, high tech, and futuristic. The Ronin has a much more laid back but medieval look and feel. It basically turns iPhone into a steampunk device. Ronin also has a nicer grip and feel than the Sector 5. ElementCase is, by all definitions of the word, a premium product. It’s currently available in three different anodized aluminum finishes for $179.95.
The Good: Ridiculously stylish and luxurious, Great detail in wood, Lightweight, Durable, Superb protection with included screen protector and rear faceplate, Built-in toggle switch, Really nice grip and feel
The Bad: Time consuming to apply and remove, Requires HEX key to remove, Buttons don’t line up perfectly, Pricey, Won’t fit in most docks