The folks at DRACOdesign Inc and Deff have taken what they’ve learned from their gorgeous handcrafted aluminum DRACO IV bumper, which we reviewed last summer, and created a polycarbonate version called the CLEAVE Crystal Edition. The benefit here is that the end product looks very similar but only weighs 9 grams. This lighter, highly transparent, tough little brother to the original DRACO IV, encompasses all the attention to detail you have already come to expect from a high-end premium bumper case. Furthermore, now there’s a more affordable option for iPhone 4 and 4S owners who are looking for bumper cases with a flare for design.
How can they take such a unique deign quality originally created in an aluminum bumper and transfer that look to a plastic bumper? I wondered the same thing myself, and here is what I found
The signature curve line design on DRACO IV aluminum bumper is made by hand. To keep this original design while using polycarbonate as a material, we have successfully made a plastic mold tool, which minimizes the parting line to present the product as one piece finishing. (A parting line always appears on the molded finished product as dividing line of the mold, and usually a parting line makes the finished product outlook poor in design)
What you get
First you need to select from one of the (5) color options that include Ruby, Clear, Deep Blue Ocean, Emerald, and Dark Side Black. My review unit was the Dark Side Black version, which I felt would work well with either a black or white iPhone. The polycarbonate bumper comes in two pieces that are assembled together with two allen screws (allen wrench is provided as well). Luckily there were two additional screws provided, because my clumsy fingers lost both of the screws in the assembly process, and I had to go to the back-ups.
The assembly process can be tricky, perhaps even downright frustrating to many. For first time users, I hight recommend the excellent procedural outline provided with the bumper packaging
Place the sound ON/OFF button on the left bumper. Gently slide your iPhone 4/4S into the left bumper and ensure the ON/OFF switch on your iPhone 4/4S is properly attached to the sound ON/OFF button. Then slide the right bumper onto your iPhone 4/4S.
Push in and align both bumpers. Check each manual operation button is properly attached to the buttons of your iPhone 4/4S. Install the hex screws in place with hex wrench one by one until tightened. Do not over screw.
When the case is installed the volume buttons are covered with an inset that is installed from the inside of the CLEAVE by pushing into place. These buttons set right on top of the iPhone volume buttons. The same can be said for the Sleep/Wake button which is also an inset polycarbonate button that is pushed into place to receive the button on the iPhone. All the remaining ports and switches are easily accessible. These include the speaker, microphones, and 30-pin dock connector. One additional caveat is that the 30-pin dock connector opening is big enough that I was still able to place my iPhone on my charging station without any difficulties.
The DRACOdesign CLEAVE Crystal Edition polycarbonate bumper for the iPhone 4/4S is an adequate replacement for those who love the look of the aluminum DRACO bumper, but want/need a cheaper alternative. The curves and feel of the bumper mimic the high end aluminum version very nicely. However, there are a trade-offs that need noting. On the plus side, if you found that with the DRACO IV aluminum bumper installed on your iPhone the signal strength was compromised–this is no longer an issue.
On the negative side, though, I found that since the CLEAVE is made from polycarbonate material, it is much less rigid, and therefore more prone to flexing. Now you could look at this two different ways. You might be ok with this small detail, because a flexible case might transfer energy from a drop away from the phone more efficiently, thus making it less likely to break. Or, you might be a little discouraged, because the end product doesn’t seem to be held to the same tolerances due to the material choice. At times the bumper felt a little deficient to me. For instance, I found that when I pressed down on the top of the CLEAVE while it was installed on my iPhone, there was more free head space due to the yielding nature of the material. Perhaps I’m more picky than most–this was just an observation not a deal breaker by any stretch.
At $30 the CLEAVE Crystal Edition bumper case for the iPhone 4/4S might seem a little pricey for case that is simply a bumper. However, DRACOdesign doesn’t make ordinary, average bumpers. They create art in the form of function, and they take pride in their design techniques and innovation. I welcome this approach, and I find it to be a breath of fresh air.
The DRACOdesign CLEAVE Crystal Edition handcrafted bumper for the iPhone 4/4S was provided for review on iSource.com by DRACOdesign. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.