STM Harbour for iPhone 5
Prior to the third-generation iPad, STM made some of our favorite computer bags and sleeves. When Apple released its newest tablet, the company ventured into iPad cases, and now it has expanded its lineup to include protectors for the iPhone 5 as well. Based in Australia, STM chose its native country as the theme for this series of cases. Among them is Harbour ($35), a case that's noticeably similar to Speck's CandyShell Flip without being a direct knockoff.
Coming in white/grey, black/grey, black/red, pink/pink, and blue/grey color combinations, Harbour is made of nice-feeling matte plastic with a rubber inner lining that comes up above the iPhone’s display to create a protective lip, and also sticks out the back of the case in a narrow strip. Although the materials and design are different, it shares the same openings as the company’s Opera: one for the Sleep/Wake button, another running from above the side switch to below the volume down button, a third for the camera and flash, and one more along the bottom. For the first two, the material is slightly recessed along the edge facing the display, making it slightly easier to access the buttons, but we would have prefer integrated protection. We did notice some imperfections in the rubber, a problem that Speck also dealt with early on.
Harbour is the first case other than Speck’s CandyShell Flip to have a flip-open bottom. We’ve liked this design concept in the past, as it allows for full protection along with uninhibited accessory compatibility when it’s needed. For the iPhone 5, this hasn’t yet proved to be an issue as there are no docks or other add-ons other than Apple’s own cables and Lightning Adapters, however, the differing connectors Apple has used for its own accessories hint that there may be connectivity challenges when further accessories do arrive; it’s not guaranteed that an encased phone will be able to make an electronic connection without this sort of solution. STM’s piece flips open about 3/4” from the bottom, with the rubber hinge stopping short of the edges and leaving a small gap on the case’s back and sides. We prefer CandyShell Flip’s execution, which has material running the entire length of the protector.
Although it shares a concept—and price point—with CandyShell Flip, Harbour falls short of that case’s greatness. We like the materials and the overall look, but without button protection and edge-to-edge material at the hinge, it’s a bit lacking. That being said, the case is still a very good choice and a nice alternative if you want something different than CandyShell, particularly if you’re looking for something with a matte finish. Harbour is worthy of a B+ rating.