Let me start by saying this: If you aren’t ready to spend some cold hard cash on a kick-butt case, then stop reading now. I’m serious, go check out some of our other articles on the site. There are plenty to see. Now, I’m going to get this out of the way upfront. This duo review is covering two of Element Case‘s high end offerings. Yes, there’s a large price tag on them, but I won’t be reviewing them from a cost perspective as they are in their own league. I’ve gone into this knowing that Element Case’s premium line will cost you money, so let’s toss that out the window and focus on what these cases feel, look, and function like.
I did an unboxing a few weeks back when Element sent me their Sector 5 Black Ops Elite and Ronin cases. I did that unboxing because two of my highest priorities when it comes to reviewing products are the packaging and presentation. I’m a packaging and presentation nit-picker and proud to admit that. Both cases were shipped in wonderfully made boxes fit for very expensive watches or high end phones. You can watch the video below to check out the unboxing and see for yourself. All I have to say here is that Element Case got my attention.
The first thing you notice about both cases is they are about as light as nothing then subtract that from void. Seriously, the aluminum Sector 5 is nearly as light as the bamboo constructed Ronin. I couldn’t get over how little weight both these things were not packing. The Ronin retains its lightness even when you put the leather or suede back plate on. The Sector 5 also includes a back plate, though this one is machined aluminum and adds more heft to the phone. Both back plates are optional, you do not have install these, but I highly recommend installing them anyway. They both offer excellent protection for the back of your phone. Otherwise you are going to have bumper protection only, which is more than adequate for the sides and corners of the phone, but why not add just a bit more protection?
Both bumpers are made of high quality materials and just scream premium. The bamboo on the Ronin is absolutely gorgeous and gives that earthy feel with a slight flair of modern with the metal top and bottom. I will say this about the Ronin, be very careful when installing it and follow instructions when doing so. The bumper offers great protection once installed but the wood is delicate while installing. The machined black aluminum of the Sector 5 makes me think this is something Rambo might have used if he had an iPhone. It is heavy duty and offers superior protection for the phone, even more with the back plate on.
Installation is pretty straight forward with extra care being needed with the Ronin. Both bumper/cases come with rash guards for your iPhone 5/5s. These guards help protect the aluminum frame of the iPhone from getting scuffs and knicks. They are not necessary but recommended. Element Case took great care in creating a perfect fit for both units. Not only is the bumper cut to perfection, the back plates fit perfectly. All buttons are easy to reach with full tactile responsiveness. Everything I would have expected from a high end bumper/case.
The Sector 5 comes with a couple extra goodies that the Ronin does not have. A backplate clip is included for those who might be out hunting and want to clip their phone on their vests or anywhere else. And it’s not a cheap plastic clip, this is also machined aluminum and very sturdy. It’s also removable, just undo the screws and pull it off. The Sector 5 also comes with a tactical holster which is actually very nice. I didn’t use it much as I have no need for it, but it definitely is heavy duty and made for rugged environments. The Sector 5 also features that back plate which is machined G10 and matching knurled G10 side grips made by Hogue.
G-10: G10 is a high-pressure thermoset plastic laminate consisting of multiple layers of woven fiberglass mesh cloth impregnated with an epoxy resin binder. Our G10 parts are proudly manufactured by Hogue Inc.
I used the Sector 5 at CES 2014 and I had more people ask me about it than any other case I have ever used. Almost every vendor I stopped at had to ask about it. It sure is an eye catcher, people will see that your phone is not like the rest. The Ronin case got just as much attention with its more elegant look and feel. The Ronin is the polar opposite of the Sector 5 and gives your phone that touch of class. Both cases are conversation starters, of that I have no doubt. You will have people asking to hold your phone.
Element Case has done a superior job of crafting two excellent bumper/cases here. The quality of the materials, the beauty and look of the materials, and the packaging and presentation all make the experience well worth it. As I said at the start of this review, the Sector 5 and Ronin are not cheap. The Sector 5 will set you back a cool $219 and the Ronin $179, but we already knew their premium price and this review is based on buyers who don’t have an issue with price. That said, if you’re comfortable spending this much on an iPhone case, there are few other cases that can compete with these. I love both of these cases, the Sector 5 being the most favorite. They go beyond the normal case which can make your phone look like any other and elevate your phone to a new experience not many will have. I highly recommend taking a look at Element Case if you’re a high-end case buyer. For those of you that ignored my early warning and are scoffing at the price points, you might not be the buyer for these but there are some that are, and that’s perfectly OK. Check out Element Case’s website at the links below.