12 April, 2014

Case-Mate Pop! ID iPhone 5

After considering several card holding cases for the iPhone 5, I finally got the Case-Mate Pop! ID. Looking at the number of views for my previous post, it looks like there are many people also searching for an iPhone 5 card holding case. I chose this because:
  • Mainly, it was cheaply and quickly available here
  • Second biggest reason: I was hesitant to buy this because I thought it would be much cheaper on eBay. However, I searched, and only cases similar to their simpler Barely There ID were available. I had previously bought one for my iPhone 4.
  • By cheap, I mean I got the Pop! ID at S$38, including delivery, before 10% discount. Compared to the other cases I was looking at, that's probably the cheapest. I know the OtterBox Commuter Wallet costs >S$60. Compared to other sellers: the cheapest on Amazon is around USD$17, which works out to about the same price, and that's with maybe 2 weeks' wait.
  • By quick, I was going to buy CM4's Q case from Amazon, which would ship overseas for free, but it would take at least a month for me to amass USD$125 of things to buy.
  • It met all my requirements, particularly the covered buttons and exposed Lightning and headphone ports.

It came in a plain box that doesn't even mention the case's name. I've always gotten the impression that Case-Mate is a cheaper brand. Maybe it's because their Barely There case is so similar to those on eBay. An interesting thing about the packaging - the silver top part that says CASE.MATE seems to be made of aluminium. It feels cold to the touch and the edges are a bit sharp. It seems stuck to the plastic, though, so I'm not sure what to do with it.

At least the back has the name of the case.

I'm glad to say the case seems to have pretty good build quality. It feels sturdy and the seams look ok. The design on the inside of the case, which normally won't be seen, shows attention to detail. The case is rigid, but it's still easy to insert your phone. Very easy, compared to my 3D-printed case. This case is made of 2 different plastics, white and grey in this case. I think the white is polycarbonate, and the grey feels a bit stiff for silicone, so I'm guessing it's TPU is pretty high friction, so maybe it's some kind of rubber. It's quite interesting how they inject 2 plastics at the same time and get them to bond (co-injection moulding).

This case holds the cards by squeezing them at the sides. The distribution of the 2 plastics is more complicated than most cases, which simply use the rigid plastic for the back and rubbery plastic for the edges. Here you can see the sides also have some white rigid plastic, making the case stronger. Reviews on Amazon say the rubbery parts tend to peel off, so that's something to watch out for.

One thing I don't like about this case is the cards can actually touch the phone. Not a problem if you're only putting in credit cards, since they're softer than any part of the phone. And besides, I have a back protector on my phone anyway. You just have to avoid putting any metal cards in there. Another thing is, the card slot fits cards very closely. No issues if you're just using credit cards, but I was keeping my cards in a card protector (those plastic sleeves for trading cards), which wouldn't fit, so I had to put my bare cards inside. My 3D-printed case's slot was oversized, so everything could easily fit. The white tab in the picture above is good design. If not for it, if you inserted your card all the way, you wouldn't be able to take it out again. (Just imagine the black card above would lay flush with the tab, and there's no way to lift it above the tab to eject)

It easily fits my ports cover, and the entire bottom cutout is surrounded by the more rigid plastic, so it should hold its shape, compared to my Griffin Reveal Etch Graphite. However, other users say the thin top part tends to break, so I'm trying not to stress it and thinking of ways to reinforce it.

The back has a glossy surface, which will inevitably scratch. It came with a soft protective film. I guess you could leave it on, but it prevents you from removing your cards. The bottom has the case's brand in small characters. The ejection slot is long enough to let you have a good grip on your cards.

The buttons are covered! I like how there's a hole in the rigid plastic for the power button, which is only covered with the rubbery plastic. One problem is the silent switch is a bit deep - I can't reach it with my thumbnail, but my other fingers can.

I also like how the rubbery plastic extends almost the entire length on both sides of the phone, so it's easy to grip. It also extends slightly above the display, protecting it when you place the phone face-down. The rubbery parts have too much friction, though, and it does tend to turn your pocket inside-out when you remove your phone, as people have pointed out.

Nobody mentions this online - the case is about 1.4 cm thick. Surprisingly my 3D-printed case is also the same thickness for the most part (1.4 cm), even though it can hold 3 cards while this can only hold 2. But the 3D-printed case is thicker at the base (1.7 cm). This looks sleeker than the 3D-printed case, though.

  • Good shock protection
  • Good grip
  • Screen protection
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Holds cards securely
  • Covered buttons
  • Large Lightning port slot
  • Minimal bulk
  • Unique design (mixing 2 plastics and not copied by others)

  • Silence switch a bit deep
  • A bit too much friction

Summary: solidly-built case with good protection, convenient card storage and minimal bulk.

Update 25 Jun 14
I'm very happy with this case. It's holding up excellently. Again, things I'm looking out for: thin beam below the Home button breaking, separation of the 2 materials used. No sign of these happening. The only visible wear is the rubber on the sides of the top surface is... it's like it's peeling, but in small pieces. One piece has dropped off. Probably from rubbing against clothes. It's peeling very slowly, and doesn't affect the function of the case, so it's acceptable.

Update 30 Aug 14
Well, it's happened. the thin bar on the bottom broke, after about 4 months of daily usage. I figured how long it lasts depends on how you use your phone - how rough, where you put it, how you grip it. If you're pulling it out of your pocket by this bar, it'll surely break earlier.
Right now it's still held together by the grey rubber. Hopefully that lasts. For my next case I still want a card holder, but since they're so hard to find, I might get a normal case and use a stick-on Sinji Pouch instead. I probably won't get a new case unless I'm sure I'm not getting an iPhone 6.

Update 17 Oct 14
Well, it's barely hanging on. So this case lasts about 6 months. I hope it can hold on until I get a new phone. Backup plan: I have a couple of cheap cases, but no card holding.

Update 30 Dec 14
The rubber finally gave way some time ago:
In this condition the broken part is of no use and might attract more damage by getting caught on things, so I cut it off:
It's not that bad in this state - the case still offers more protection than my previous 3D-printed case. But by now I've changed phones so I've stopped using this case.

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