There are a lot of different types of iPhone 4 Bumpers, from aluminum to to plastic, from plastic to rubber. Element Case took it to the next level making an air-craft-grade aluminum bumper which appears to be the Grip’s long lost mate ––or at least I think so.
Element Case uses CNC machining to fabricate the bumper. The aluminum finish is very smooth making the bumper feel very nice in one’s hand. This bumper adds a bit of grip because of the two bumps located at the top and bottom of the right side. For me, personally, this case feels very nice, but others might find it uncomfortably bulky. Therefore, at the end of the day, everything comes down to individual taste.
On the top side of the bumper, there is a nice aluminum button which gives good feedback, though it does begin to wear down after a while. The cutout for the 3.5mm audio jack is of decent size but also quite deep which could cause problems for some third-party cables. On the bottom side, there is one big, and extremely deep cable connector. I have had issues with third-party connectors and even, at times, with Apple’s connector. On the right side the bumper has a “Vapor 4” logo on the top side and a cutout for the SIM card tray. The left side has a spacey cutout for the mute and volume buttons and I had no problems with reaching any of the buttons. It’s well cut and generous in terms of space. On the lower left side, there is yet another logo.
This bumper is a two piece case where you slide the phone in and enclose it with what I like to call the “ Removable Part” where you use four Torx screws to attach it to the other piece; two at the top and two at the bottom. Element Case provides an alien wrench and some extra screws just in case you “misplace” one or two.
The back side is fully exposed, like Apple’s bumper, and provides very little lay-on-the-table protection, though you can grab a Carbon Fiber backing for a few more dollars from Element Case. The same goes for the front, minus the carbon fiber cover. The good thing is that the aluminum bumper doesn’t actually touch the glass on the front or back of the iPhone so if you drop it, the glass actually might not shatter.
The iPhone’s reception issue is not fixed with this bumper but worsened. It practically does the same when you touch the antenna with your fingers. My case is no lemon either; many others have found these signal issues to be true as well.
In case you were wondering, the case has 4 foam pads inside at each corner, though the phone begins to leave some nasty imprints after very little use.
In the end, if you are prepared to risk decreasing 3G signals, having issues with GPS and WiFi, and tossing out $80, the Vapor Case is for you! Overall, these issues can’t go unnoticed therefore we award Element Case’s Vapor Case a 3.5/5.