Review: ZeroChroma Vario-Edge for iPhone 5/5c/5s + Vortex for iPhone 5c
At the 2014 International CES, ZeroChroma was busy introducing its Flux Stand on a handful of new accessories. We've already covered VarioSC, a great case for iPad Air, and we have now received final editions of Vario-Edge for iPhone 5/5s and iPhone 5c ($40), as well as Vortex ($40), only available for 5c. Both incorporate the new stand, and have highly similar frames, but differ in the amount of body protection they offer.
Vario-Edge is composed of two pieces: a TPU bumper, and the stand mechanism, located south of center on the back. By definition, a bumper is a simple style of case, but this one shows some nice attention to detail. The button coverage is great, for example, with the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons clicking perfectly beneath the rubber. Four molded depressions on either side help improve grip, and the case curls around both the front and back of the iPhone, protecting the chamfered edges. The only difference between the 5/5s and 5c versions of the case is a slightly rounded rear lip on the latter. Vortex is almost identical, with a pattern of rubber crisscrossing over the iPhone’s back, offering a further degree of protection.
Flux Stand is a big improvement over the stand used on previous ZeroChroma cases, such as VarioProtect and VarioClear, which wasn’t bad to begin with. The additional height of the stand setup over the case’s edges is almost negligible, and the plastic disc housing has a 2” circumference. In the center, there’s a small plastic rectangle. Lift that piece, and you have a stand. It’s that easy. A metal bar runs through it, and this is what allows the multiple positions. Unlike previous cases from ZeroChroma that offered 11 angles, clicking into place at each one, the stands on these cases can slide from 16 degrees to 45 degrees in landscape orientation, and 14 degrees to 33 degrees in portrait mode, stopping at any point along the way. The tension of the plastic around the metal bar holds whatever angle you choose. Flux Stand also rotates all the way around, meaning it’s easy to move between portrait and landscape positions.
While they certainly sport improved stands, we wish ZeroChroma had continued with the level of protection offered by its previous iPhone 5 cases. Plastic or rubber over the back of the handset would help keep the metal body safe from scratches and dings. While the stand does offer some coverage, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be complete. Vortex gets closer than Vario-Edge, earning the former a strong general recommendation, and the latter, a flat B rating.