ZeroChroma VarioProtect + VarioClear for iPhone 5
Based heavily upon its excellent earlier iPhone 4/4S predecessor, VarioProtect for iPhone 5 ($40) deviates in a few ways from the prior design. All of the changes are small; most provide a greater level of comfort and ease of use. Fans of the previous generation of this product likely won't think twice about upgrading, and thankfully it continues to include what we've referred to as "the single best stand ever built into an Apple device case."
Once again, ZeroChroma has designed the body of VarioProtect using a rubber-like plastic material that makes iPhone 5 insertion and removal very easy. In addition to the standard black color we’ve tested and liked before, pink, red, bright green, blue, and cool gray color options will soon be made available. There’s now a depression point in the back to help you push the device out when necessary, and finger grips have been added to the sides of the case. The grooves are subtle enough not to make a huge difference, but it is a nice touch and we generally liked the way they feel. VarioProtect also offers a very respectable level of protection, including button coverage, a substantial front lip, and well-tailored rather than overly tight openings around the bottom edge ports. It only has one new issue: the camera hole is now taller and wider, leaving more of the material around the lens and flash exposed than we’d prefer.
The key feature of the case is the company’s awesome 11-position video stand. ZeroChroma’s earliest cases—including Teatro-S—grafted the stand into the back of the case far less subtly; the raised portion jutted out from the back unattractively. With VarioProtect, the integration is far better-looking. The bump holding the stand is housed in a taper so gentle that you mightn’t even notice it. When not in use, the stand folds completely flat into the back of the case; otherwise, it flips out with a simple finger-in-divot system, ratchets into its different positions, and spins in 360 degrees to lock into four different orientations. Regardless of the stand position you need, VarioProtect can meet it.
Ultimately, ZeroChroma built upon the strengths of its innovative case to expand its reach to a new generation of Apple devices. Once again, VarioProtect is worthy of an A- rating, and we highly recommend it. It continues to provide superior protection with the best integrated stand around, all in a great-looking package. The price is fair, although if it were a bit more aggressive, it would be an absolute home run.
Updated January 16, 2013: ZeroChorma has released a version of the case with a clear plastic back, dubbed VarioClear ($45). Available with a black, grey, green, or pink bumper and stand, it’s otherwise identical to the standard VarioProtect.