Review: Billet Proof Cases Machined Aluminum Cases for 3G iPhone
Picking up on one of the long-standing fan favorite iPod case manufacturing techniques, Billet Proof Cases has unveiled the Machined Aluminum Case for 3G iPhone ($90-$100), a two-piece shell that's machine-sculpted from a block of aluminum, then sanded, polished, and in some cases anodized. While the basic version of the case has a brushed aluminum finish, three more deluxe versions are offered in chrome, red, or black colors; all come with four screws to hold the case together, two spares, and an allen wrench to open and close the case. Since the case really only consists of a metal frame, Billet Proof includes a clear hard plastic shield for the iPhone 3G's back; no screen protection is included. While the prices - even the discounted ones offered on the company's site - strike us as very high for cases with partial protection, they're hand made, and will apparently be available in additional colors.
Having tested the Machined Aluminum Case, we can’t really claim to be excited in any way by what’s be offered here for the price—and we say that as fans of similar cases that were released for the iPod shuffle and iPod nano. Here, the case inhibits docking, the use of bottom-mounting accessories that are larger than Apple’s cables, and oversized headphones, while offering no front glass protection or button protection. The frame is interesting visually, but not really attractive from our standpoint, and adds only one real benefit: it makes the iPhone 3G feel more solid, which it now is on the sides and corners, a potential boon for users who frequently drop their iPhones. Rear scratch protection is achieved through the plastic shield, which isn’t perfectly formed to the iPhone’s back, but does the trick. That said, we saw significant phone signal dropoff when the iPhone was inside—two bars—and actively disliked having to winch the screws to get the iPhone in and out of the case. This wouldn’t be something we’d purchase, but if you’re looking for something shiny, heavy and metallic, and are willing to accept the signal strength consequences, it’s not a bad case; it’s not a really good one, either.