I’ve made no secret about my love of design and aesthetics. This is probably why I love Apple iPhone design and why I raved about the HTC One design. Simple, elegant and functional all describe those two devices. But simple, elegant and functional isn’t limited to those devices. There are many other companies and products that do simple, aesthetically pleasing, and functional design. One of them is Draco Designs, makers of high quality aluminum bumper cases for selected smartphones.
Look/Feel First Impressions
I have reviewed a Draco bumper before, the Draco One for the HTC One, and it left me impressed and floored. This time around Draco sent me their Draco 5 Limited in white for the iPhone 5/5s. As always I’ll start with the packaging. For me packaging is just as important as the product that lay inside. Draco’s presentation is well done. Graphically it shouts sexy and the materials are high quality. Holding an amazing package makes me shudder with excitement at what is inside of that package.
Once that packaging is peeled off and you pull out the aircraft-grade, aluminum constructed Draco 5 the first thing you are struck with is how light this thing is. It literally weighs next to nothing. Which is a huge plus, because this will not add much weight at all to the phone itself. After getting over the sheer lightness of the bumper your eyes bring you around the entire thing. The machined aluminum and chamfered edges are glorious to look at. Unlike the Draco One bumper though, this bumper is painted white. So those chamfered edges are even more brilliant in sunlight and bright lights.
Another once around and your fingers are feeling the glossy paint job put down on this thing. It’s like running your hand along the quarter panel of a brand new Ferrari 458, nothing but smooth, nothing but sexy. Inspecting further you’re hit with subtle and simple Draco Design branding. It is not screaming at you but is simply incorporated into the design. All the lines on this bumper have been well thought out, the materials are high quality and the finish is pure premium.
Installation of the bumper is a breeze. Along the inner channels of the bumper there are several rubber pads that will protect your iPhone 5/5s from getting marred from the aluminum bumper making contact with the aluminum iPhone chassis. Installation is a two part process, the way I see it. it is. First you have to make sure you place the vibrate toggle switch in place before sliding the two bumper pieces over the phone. It’s important you place the toggle switch in the correct position, it is a very small piece so be aware of that, very easy to lose. Once you have the vibrate/sound toggle switch in place you can slide the two portions of the bumper over the iPhone and into place. You then secure the two pieces together using the supplied screws (very small screws, again, easy to lose so take care). Tighten those screws down with the supplied tool making sure not to over tighten. It is very important that you do not over tighten. Once that’s done, test the vibration toggle and installation is complete.
Once the bumper is installed it radically changes the look of your iPhone. The curved body fits nicely in your hand and the finish is wonderful to touch. The bumper does add a little bit of width to the iPhone but nothing drastic, coming from Android I am used to bigger phones and this wasn’t a big deal to me. All ports are easily accessible, even the headphone jack is unobstructed (although I do suspect that some headphone plugs may have a problem connecting). I had no issues plugging in the Apple EarPods or my Skull Candy over-the-ear phones. The volume rocker is very tactile and easy to operate as is the power button. I had absolutely no issues at all with any of the buttons or toggles (that vibration toggle also works great).
One area I’ll cover briefly is reception. I know that aluminum bumpers have had their issues with cell and Wi-Fi reception. Back when I reviewed the Draco One I took away some points because I took a hit on reception with it. I was expecting the same from the Draco 5 Limited, but, to my surprise, I found I had very little to no signal loss with the Draco 5. And I figured out why. Draco took note of the reception issue and came through with a fix. On the iPhone 5/5s version they machined out a channel at the top of the phone where the antennas are located. This allows the signal to get through unhampered which has greatly improved the signal of their bumpers. Major kudos to Draco for fixing a design issues. Not only is the channel functional but it flows with the case design.
The last thing I’ll cover is protection. This is a bumper after all and we want it to protect our phones in the long run. First let’s remember what we are dealing with here, a bumper. This is not a full case so one cannot expect that the front and back of the phone will have coverage. Bumpers are designed to take a fall on the corners, sides and possibly a flat fall. You likely will not see adequate protection from keys, coins and awkward falls that might land the phone on it’s back or front. That all being said, the protection the Draco 5 Limited offers is some of the best protection you will get from any bumper on the market. The aircraft grade aluminum is sturdy and will stand up to falls and protect your precious baby. There are also raised edges around the back and front. This allows you to lay your phone flat on its back or front and not damage the back or front. Of course the surface must be flat for those edges to work, laying your phone on a pile of rocks is likely going to damage it.
The Draco 5 Limited for the iPhone 5 gets a solid 5 out of 5 stars from me. The design and quality of this bumper is second to none. It is well worth the price considering the high quality of not only the design but the materials and attention to detail. The only complaint I thought I would have ended up being fixed before I even had the bumper in hand. I would totally recommend this case to anyone who wants bumper protection with simple, elegant and functional design. The Draco 5 Limited sells for $99.99 and you can pick yours up at the link below.