X-Doria Shield for iPhone 5
Among multi-piece cases, X-Doria's Shield for iPhone 5 ($40) is somewhat unique. Following convention, it's composed of rubber and plastic layers that snap together to form one cohesive case. The big difference is the addition of a third component: a clear plastic screen protector that wraps around the sides of the iPhone. Shield comes in five color combinations, each with a bright rubber layer and a more subdued plastic frame. Some are louder than others, although there are black on black and grey on ash options that should satisfy people with more subtle tastes.
Installation of the case is easy. First up is the screen protector, followed by the rubber skin, then the plastic frame over the rest. We found that it took some manipulation to get the rubber and plastic layers to line up properly. Once it’s all in place, the dual layers will help protect your iPhone if it’s dropped.
Shield also offers some protection from the elements. All four of the device’s buttons are covered, including the Home Button. They all work well, although the rubber over the latter button doesn’t sit quite flat and feels a bit more squishy than we prefer. Also covered are the side switch, headphone port, and Lightning port, all under rubber flaps; trying to lift them can be somewhat frustrating if you have short nails. Both the speaker and microphone are covered in rubber, but exposed by small holes in the material.
X-Doria uses clear plastic in two ways. The first is the aforementioned screen protector, and while we appreciate the protection it provides, the prismatic effect it creates—particularly pronounced on white and other light-colored screen images—and the fact that it doesn’t rest perfectly flat are drawbacks. The latter is not particularly visible, but comes into play when you try to touch the screen: some areas require extra pressure to make proper contact. While the protector is removable, the case doesn’t fit quite right without it. Shield also covers the iSight camera and flash with a sheet of plastic, interrupted in the middle with a hole exposing the rear microphone. We didn’t see a big difference in the quality of our images, but the flash was effected negatively to a small degree.
Shield is a theoretically strong case design that falls a bit short in actual use. It’s protective and at least relatively attractive. The biggest downside is the screen protector, which should have been an asset. With a component like this, the look and feel are important—when they’re not perfect, the overall appeal of the case suffers disproportionately. While the protector isn’t terrible, it would have been great if it worked correctly. Overall, Shield’s execution warrants a limited recommendation, but with small tweaks, it could be a lot better.