Hey, look what I got to review: a Liquid case from Element Case. Here you can see my encased iPhone menacing my poor old SLVR.
It’s a hard plastic case designed for either generation of iPhone. You drop your iPhone into the case and screw a bezel on to hold it in place. The tiny hex-head screws means you won’t be popping the case on and off easily. For normal use that’s not a problem, as all buttons and slots are available, but you can’t dock the iPhone with the case in place.
The $100 sticker price is eye-popping — that’s half the base cost of an 8GB iPhone 3G — but the price is offset by its rugged design and customizability. You can choose the color of both the case and the translucent flip lid. You also get to choose what graphic you’d like laser-etched on the front. You may notice mine is sporting a sweet DCTV logo.
The lid is held on by magnets at the four corners, and can be attached to the back while you’re using the phone. While that obscures the camera, if you don’t use the camera all that much, it shouldn’t be a problem.
My iPhone felt well-protected in the case. I didn’t feel like the iPhone was going to slip out of my hand the way my caseless phone did, and I didn’t have to collapse my thumbs as much to type thanks to the case’s extra thickness. The thing is armored like a Sherman tank.
Of course, then you end up with a Sherman tank in your pants, and despite what my spam emails claim, it wasn’t all that thrilling. At first I didn’t much care for the added bulk when I was carrying it around, but over the two weeks I’ve tested it out I grew accustomed to it. It didn’t end up being as big of an issue as I first thought it would be.
To sum up: it’s extremely rugged, sports an eye-catching and customizable design, and adds enough thickness that it makes the iPhone easier to type on. On the downside, some controls like the sleep button are harder to get to, and that thickness adds bulk when you’re carrying it in your pocket. Should you buy it? If you don’t mind paying $100 for a case, you’ll have a well-protected iPhone in a case that will draw attention. I’d be interested in trying a Griffin Clarifi case for taking close-up pictures of business cards and napkin sketches, but I’ve enjoyed the Liquid case enough that I’m going to keep using it.