I’m really not that big on cases. I feel like the iPhone is designed to withstand most standard daily use from humans so I tend to use mine sans case. That said, I do see the merit in having additional protection when you are going to be doing something out of the ordinary. For example, last week was CES and when you are walking 5 miles a day in a convention hall, the likelihood that you might bump into someone or simply drop your phone is higher than a standard day at the office. For those types of events, I incorporate a case into my routine to make sure my phone is protected from the elements around it.
Since the iPhone X came out, there have been a lot more cases I’ve been willing to test out. The newest iPhone is kind of a design marvel and I’ve reached outside my normal case comfort zone to try some of the more extreme versions of cases like the Black OPS iPhone X Case from Element Case. Element Case strives to provide phone users with ultra-premium cases for their devices and the Black OPS case continues their tradition of quality and strength. The case I had a chance to use is actually the 6th generation Black OPS case. It’s made with CNC machined G10 and aircraft grade aluminum to provide a rugged foundation. Super tough type III ‘hard anodized’ coating is added to complete the case, which has a non-glare finish.
ABOUT THE CASE
This version of the Black OPS case features DropShock technology, which is an impact protection technique that includes a three-layer design (aluminum, polycarbonate, TPU) to dissipate energy to withstand extreme impact. Some of the other main features of the Black OPS case include:
- Fast Tap CNC Buttons: Machined aluminum buttons designed to protect device buttons while providing quick, easy use of volume and on/off functions
- Deep Pocket Clip: Made from PVD coated stainless steel, this clip is designed with an extended length for a superior grip and deeper fit into pockets
- Splashproof Tactical Holster: This easy to carry, quick-draw ready pouch protects your phone from the elements and features a heavy duty 6000 nylon construction with a velcro closure
- SLS Screw Lock System: The case secures to your phone using 10 stainless steel screws
- MIL-Spec Approved: The Black OPS case exceeds currently military specification for drop-test requirements
In addition to the aircraft-grade aluminum I previously mentioned, the Black OPS case has many more elements included in its construction. Element Case does a great job of documenting this information on the product page and I’ve outlined it here.
- MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment
- Soft Touch Coating: Durable spray coating applied to high-end electronic device enclosures and other consumer goods. As it’s name implies, Soft Touch is soft to the touch with a velvety smooth or suede feel.
- 304 Stainless Steel: 304 stainless steel has excellent formability and is very high on the appearance scale. 304 stainless steel is not very electrically or thermally conductive and is non-magnetic.
- 6061 Aluminum: 6 and 7 series aluminum are widely used in aircraft industry, automotive performance parts, and portable computing devices because of its formability, rigidity, and lightness.
- G10 Glass Composites: G10 glass composites are unclad materials comprised of different resin systems incorporating glass weave as a reinforcement.
- Thermoplastic Polyurethane: Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a flexible polyurethane plastic with outstanding properties, including elasticity, transparency, resistance to oil, and abrasion.
- Polycarbonate: Polycarbonates used in engineering are strong, tough materials, and some grades are optically transparent.
- CNC Machining: Computer Numeric Control (CNC) is the automation of machine tools that are operated by precisely programmed commands encoded on a storage medium (computer command module, usually located on the device).
- Anodized Coating (Type II): Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface into a durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish.
- Anodized Coating (Type II): Hard Anodizing (Type III) is similar to standard anodizing in that both are controlled electrochemical processes. The key difference is that hard coat anodizing provides a surface that is more wear resistant and has a smoother and harder surface than standard anodizing.
Being that I’m not a super fan of phone cases, this was a HUGE departure from the norm for me. The first thing I want to comment on is the price. The Black OPS case retails for nearly $200. This looks to be Element Case’s most expensive case that they are currently offering. Most of the cases they have for the iPhone X range between $40–50 and then there is one model (Formula) that is $100. With that in mind, this is definitely not a case for the everyday user. The packaging is an experience on its own. It’s a dual-sided box that closes with magnets. One side of the case has the Black OPS case and its installation tools while the other compartment houses the holster.
The installation guide is the only documentation included with the case. It shows you how to remove the screws from the side rails of the case and how to install or remove the pocket clip. Because there are 10 screws to install, it takes a little time to get your phone setup in the case. The screws secure the side rails to the body of the case. So, once the rails are removed, you simply place your phone into the body and make sure the buttons are properly aligned. You then place the rails on the sides and start replacing the screws. When you want to remove your phone, you go through that process in reverse. The instructions simply state to unscrew the screws and remove the rails, but I found that you actually have to end up pushing the screws out of their holes from the opposite side of the case. They don’t come out easily. I would recommend if you are having trouble with the screws dislodging that you try using the hex tool (provided) to push them out. One of the really nice things about this specialty case is that you know which phone is yours. Say, for instance, that someone steals your phone and then you run into them later. You know that they won’t be able to remove the case from the phone so you can definitely claim the phone as yours.
Once I had my phone in the case, I found that it felt a lot heavier and bulkier. This could be because I’m so used to a case-less phone and this was a big change from that. Without the phone installed, the case feels featherlight, but when you put the phone in, it feels quite a bit heavier. I never felt like my phone was unprotected though. I even dropped it a couple of times (accidentally) and my phone remained perfect. The clip seemed to get in the way during some of my typical activities so I decided to remove it so that I could utilize wireless charging with my iPhone X (wireless charging works with the case, but only if the clip isn’t on it).
CONCLUSIONS The Black OPS case is a ‘no joke’ case in my book. It provides a superior level of protection at a premium price. The elements used to make it are solid and very high-quality. I do feel that there is a little extra work the user has to put out in order to use the case, but if you have an extreme lifestyle, this case could be a great companion for you.
Originally published at macsources.com on January 19, 2018.