The Rokform Fuzion+ Aluminum Case for iPhone 5/5s has military good looks and ruggedness. It is one of the best cases reviewed to date with respect to ultimate protection and has many strengths. However, there are a few negatives that keep it from being great.
I have been using this case for almost a week, and what's notable is that I was out and about more than usual, running errands and eating out. So I had plenty of opportunity to not only test the ruggedness and usability of this case but also size up the effect on the radios, if any, of the aluminum shell.
First, an overview. This case has a black thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) inner liner that completely surrounds the iPhone sides and back. In turn, that is held in place with an aluminum frame. The cases is designed to let the Apple logo show through in a cool looking quadrilateral. There is a strong, textured and patterned, carbon fiber inner plate that prevents anything hard from poking through the soft TPU and makes the openings in the aluminum look better.
The Fuzion+ is available in four colors: camo aluminum, matte aluminum, gunmetal aluminum and raw aluminum (reviewed here).
Fuzion+ in gunmetal aluminum
The total weight of the case components is 59 grams (2.08 oz.). This is contrary to the webpage that cites less than an ounce. The aluminum frame is made of 6061 T-6 aircraft grade aluminum, and it provides a terrific level of rigidity as well as adding to the heft and good feel. My overall impression is that this is a great case for extremely rugged conditions, and my reaction was favorable. However, the case does have some negatives which I'll get to.
The radios in the iPhone are in the extreme top and the bottom. These are the areas that are covered by the TPU but not the aluminum frame. I didn't do any formal signal strength measurements, but I took note of the fact that whether I was using Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE, there was no change in the performance of my iPhone 5s.
Because this case, once on, is very hard to remove, I didn't conduct on/off testing. But I did notice that after I put the 5s in this case, I still had five bars from my AT&T Microcell. I would expect that based on this kind of design.
The major components: aluminum shell, carbon plate, TPU liner.
Aesthetics and Use
This philosophy of the Fuzion+ case is in great contrast to the Kloqe, reviewed previously. While the aluminum Kloqe emphasized a vast expanse of colorful aluminum to maintain the aesthetics of the iPhone, and then added plastic caps top and bottom, the Fuzion+ focuses on the shock absorption of the TPU and the rigidity of a sparse aluminum frame to produce a military (but classy) look and feel.
The design of the Fuzion+, with protruding TPU corners, as a result, is less likely to lead to cosmetic damage in a fall in my opinion.
The black circle in the middle is a strong magnet.
Pros and Cons
This case, by its design has several advantages that, in turn, lead to some minor negatives. Here's my list.
- The TPU adds a lot to the height of the iPhone. It barely fits in my oversize belt holster designed for larger (but bare) Android smartphones.
- The Fuzion+ is a heavy case, coming in at 59 g, 2.08 oz.
- The TPU coverings of the on/off and volume buttons is thick and stiff. An extra hard push is required.
- I received the raw aluminum model. I noted that there were streaks and areas of poor finish in the aluminum frame. This might be a one-off occurence, and Rokform is going to send me a few more samples for inspection.
- This case is very, very tricky and difficult case to remove. I had to use a sharp letter opener to pry off the aluminum frame, being careful not to damage my iPhone or cut/stab myself due to the pressures involved.
- It's expensive compared to similar kinds of cases.
Blemishes in the aluminum finish.
- Excellent drop protection thanks to the inner layer of TPU and an outer, bracing aluminum frame. It's likely to still look good after a drop on asphalt.
- Excellent torsional rigidity thanks to the aluminum on TPU.
- A supplied magnet pair for dash mounting.
- An opening on the back reveals the Apple logo, a feature that I appreciate in iPhone cases.
- The black TPU around camera lens provides an anti-glare function.
My view here is that the Pros greatly outweigh the Cons by virtue of the fact that some of the Cons are a direct result of the Pros. Nevertheless, some negatives, like the difficulty of removal, the price and the marred aluminum finish detract in the final analysis and take the case out of the Great category and into Solid Plus.
My case arrived in a plain brown cardboard box. Inside, the case components were in a quality plastic bag. A leaflet has installation instructions but no hints on how to gracefully remove the iPhone — which for some will be in there for good.
A cleaning cloth is included, a nice touch. The dashboard magnet has a 3M Corporation adhesive that looks designed to adhere to a car dash. The corresponding magnet on the case is very strong, and the iPhone seems in no danger of dropping to the floor.
It's a Wrap
There is a lot to like about this case. For those who want military grade protection with style instead of a minimalist case that's more fashion than protection, this case is a solid product. Just be aware that it will add quite a bit of heft and size to the iPhone and, except for the aperture to reveal the Apple logo, completely obscure the color and feel of a naked iPhone.
I was tempted to make this my case of choice, but the extra thickness of the TPU meant that I couldn't remove the iPhone quickly and easily from my over-sized belt holster. So I'm back to my Griffin iClear, a case that's barely there but has done the job for me. For now.
I'm still in search of the perfect iPhone case.