Review: Spigen SGP Ultra Hybrid for iPhone 5
Griffin's Reveal is likely the best known case to combine a clear back and rubber sides, but there have been a fair number of competitors with similar designs over the years. The most recent is Spigen SGP's Ultra Hybrid for iPhone 5 ($27). It takes the edge protection of Tough Armor, and combines it with a see-through back panel. In addition to one piece of screen film, Spigen SGP also includes two inserts with industrial print that can fit between the case and your iPhone. At the time of this writing, the case is only available from Amazon at a discounted rate.
It’s clear that Spigen SGP is trying to take advantage of its “air cushion technology” by using the design across multiple products. First seen in Tough Armor, there’s a pocket of air in each of the four corners, designed to help absorb and disperse impacts through the rubber frame. It’s invisible, but the company claims it makes a difference.
Button and port access is also identical to that of Tough Armor, which is a good thing. Instead of protectors molded to the shape of the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons, these are wider boxes that still allow you to feel the controls clicking below, and don’t require you to use any extra force. On the bottom edge, there are three separate holes. One is for the speaker, one is for the Lightning port—it’s wide enough to accept third-party cables—and the last exposes the microphone and headphone port. Spigen SGP chose the right combination of protection and access.
Whether you choose the black- or gray-bordered Ultra Hybrid, the back is the same. It’s a clear sheet of plastic, with a cutout for the camera and flash. The company includes two paper inserts that change the look of the case, and also suggests that you can use them as templates to create your own.
This style of case represents an appreciable level of elegance. It adds character and protection, while allowing the iPhone’s design to still shine through. We have a feeling that fans of the gold iPhone 5s will particularly appreciate the style. Ultra Hybrid will have to deal with known issues—the clear back traps dust and shows other impurities, and the plastic easily develops scratches—but it’s still a very good case. Especially when purchased at a discount, it earns our strong general recommendation.