Review: SwitchEasy Bonds for iPhone 5
SwitchEasy's cases are usually most successful when they're simple, as demonstrated by Tones, among others. However, three iPhone 5 cases fall on either side of the "straightforward" line. Bonds ($30) is a very good example of how an understated design with just a little bit of flair can have a lot of appeal. Bones ($30), alternatively, starts with a pretty similar base but has accents that make its appeal much more limited. Then there's Monsters ($20), perhaps the funkiest of the bunch, but also the most fun. All three cases come in a variety of colors, and include standard SwitchEasy pack-ins: two screen films, a microfiber wipe, one squeegee, and port protectors. Bonds and Bones also come with film for the back of your iPhone.
Of the three, Bonds is the plainest case in this grouping, arguably giving it the broadest appeal. We really liked the way this one looks: the case is made primarily from a flexible plastic material with a smooth finish, which SwitchEasy takes a step further by integrating a color-matched, crisscross-patterned metal frame on the back. The combination looks great. Although it’s removable, the metal piece is designed to stay in place and doesn’t have to be taken off for iPhone 5 installation.
The volume buttons are covered by raised rubber in the shape of an x, while the Sleep/Wake button is covered by raised rubber matching its shape. Both require a little bit more pressure than normal, yet still have reasonable tactility and click. The protective lip around the screen should be a little taller to prevent damage in the event of a drop. The speaker and microphone coverage is good, as each is covered by rubber with a grid of small dots letting sound through. Our biggest reservation about Bonds is the size of the holes exposing the ports. The opening for the headphone port is tight, and may cause problems with thick or curved plugs. On the other hand, the Lightning port hole will not fit anything other than the cable that ships with your iPhone or is purchased separately for $19. Third-party connectors and even some of Apple’s own adapters will be too thick to fit, which is a real problem.
Were Bonds to have a slightly larger opening for the Lighting port, it’d be a great case—it’s otherwise an elegantly designed option with a great feel. SwitchEasy chose great colors, priced the protector fairly, and as is the case with all three options here, included valuable pack-ins. For those who are going to be sticking with first-party cables, Bonds is very much worth considering. It earns a B+ rating, though; we can’t highly recommend it with the accessory compatibility issues. Bones is a bit tougher to evaluate. It offers a similar amount of protection to Bonds, although Bones has more appropriately-sized connector openings, which would normally help it to rate higher. On the other hand, the crossbone design is very niche, dragging it down a little to a B+ rating. Finally there’s Monsters. For only $20—$10 less than Bones—you get an even more protective option with real character. Again, the look isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but it inspires more positive reactions than Bones, and there’s little more one can ask for from a case technically, especially at that price. It merits a high recommendation and A- rating.