Review: Spigen SGP Slim Armor for iPhone 5
With iPhone cases, simplicity is often a good thing -- as long as it's the right kind of simplicity. Spigen SGP's new Slim Armor for iPhone 5 ($18) is a straightforward case design that generally works on both protective and aesthetic levels. Although it's not perfect, there's a lot we liked in the TPU and metallic-finished plastic case. Available in grey/silver, black/dark grey, and black/slate finishes, Slim Armor plays off the iPhone 5's body design, riffing on the two-toned rear panel. Inside the box you'll find the case itself, as well as three Home button stickers. Screen film is notably omitted.
Although the plastic panel can be removed, it doesn’t have to be taken off to install the case. The iPhone just snaps into place, and removal is comparably easy. We found it to scratch somewhat easily. Rather than curling over the edge of the glass screen, Slim Armor leaves a small gap as wide as the antenna band. It does, however, form a very small front lip that may help prevent damage to the display if the iPhone is dropped on a flat surface. On the top edge, the Sleep/Wake button is covered without sacrificing tactility. Similar coverage is found over the volume buttons, although we wish the protectors were raised just a little bit higher. The iPhone 5’s ringer switch is somewhat deeply recessed in its own opening.
Slim Armor’s biggest issues are on its bottom surface. While we appreciate the four- and six-pill openings over the microphone and speaker, the openings for the Lightning port is a problem—it’s quite tight, so users may not be able to use certain connectors. Although Apple’s standard Lightning plug fits just fine, the larger sheaths around some of its adapters as well as third-party cables we’ve tested are too big. The headphone opening is somewhat more forgiving, but it’s also on the narrow side. We are able to connect angled plugs without issue; some particularly wide connectors may not fit. This won’t be a drawback for all users, but for those who are affected, it will be a big problem.
Without question, Slim Armor makes a very positive initial impression: the color choices are smart and will likely have broad appeal, it’s nearly as protective as we’d expect from the best cases, and comes in at an affordable price that makes us appreciate these factors even more. Our biggest concern is the tightness of the bottom holes, which may be a deal breaker for users with certain headphone or Lightning accessories. With that in mind, Slim Armor earns our strong general recommendation. It’s a very good case with a real fault that Spigen SGP could easily address in future production runs; that said, the price is so aggressive that you may be willing to forgive its omissions.
Updated July 21, 2013: Spigen SGP has released an updated version of Slim Armor, dubbed Slim Armor S ($25). Although it looks very similar from the outside, it is slimmer, with what the company claims is a larger lip, and and a patterned rubber lining that’s supposed to offer better impact protection. The Lightning port opening has been stretched, allowing for great compatibility with third-party cables. It still comes with three Home button stickers, while the removable plastic shell now refers to both the iPhone 5 and 5S. Notably, the company has also increased the price of the original Slim Armor to $25 since our original December 10, 2012 review.