Exclusive First Look: Really Right Stuff's iPhone Case

Exclusive First Look: Really Right Stuff's iPhone Case

Ok, you're probably pretty skeptical right now reading that title alone. I hear ya, so was I. Really Right Stuff is known for extremely high quality carbon fiber tripods, not cases, and definitely not something in mobile computing. After hearing my surprise, the guys at Really Right Stuff laughed and made me think of it this way: the iPhone is the most popular camera on the market. It would be weird if they didn't support it, as they are one of the best camera support companies out there. Hearing that, I was ready to give this thing a look.

Earlier this year I reviewed a prototype model of the Really Right Stuff Pocket Pod, and was overall really happy with the product. Really Right Stuff sent me the very first model of their new iPhone 5 case, and this is yet another product they can add to their line that is not only gorgeously designed, but overall a fantastic product.

When we buy a case for our phones, we really have a very short list of core expectations: we want the case to protect, we want it to look good, and we want it to not weigh our light phones down. I am usually willing to forgo one of those three desires if it means that the case excels at the other two. Currently I use a battery case, and though it protects my phone and it looks great, it weights a freaking ton and more than doubles the weight of my phone. However, I put up with it. So when we look at those three categories, how does the RRS case stack up?



Protection: It's kind of unusual to see a case with no back. When you see the case for the first time, at first you're put off by the lack of a back. Lame! No back? What the heck! Rabble rabble rabble! Then three seconds later you realize, it doesn't need a back. In fact, the lack of a back is a good thing. The backside of an iPhone 5 is really pretty, and for nearly every case out there, I never get to see it. RRS realized that to protect the phone, what mattered was frame stability and protection of the glass. Those parameters did not require a backing to their case. What it does have is that ever-popular "lip" that raises the edges of the case up away from the face and back of the phone. That lip prevents the glass from shattering if you drop it, a feature that many of you look for in a phone case.

It's made from aluminum, and when you feel the case you'll agree that you don't question it's ability to protect your phone.



Appearance: Though it will be offered in a few different colors, I'm a fan of the gun metal. It looks really beautiful on the black iPhone 5, blending in really well. I don't know what else I can say about it other than it's damn sexy. When you hold the phone in your hand with this case on, the phone actually feels better than without the case. That's not something you can say about most cases.



Weight: It weighs almost nothing. Can you tell the difference when holding the iPhone with and then without the case? Yes. Is it enough to matter? No. When I hold the case by itself, it's easy to forget I'm carrying anything- it's that light. I think the weight of this case is what is most dazzling about the product as a whole. I expected it to be far heavier than it is, and it does justice to a phone that is already insanely light.



Another cool function is how easily the case attaches to the Pocket Pod. With the right ball head, it's a quick screw on, screw off process. I like that it's an available option, but I personally can't think of a ton of times I would really tripod my phone except if I was trying to take a timer photo with my family while on vacation. And you know what? I totally would use it then. And you know what else? It would work great.



There isn't much to dislike with this case. It's great, but not perfect. The one thing I don't like about this case is the price: it's set to retail for $125. The battery case I currently use on my phone cost me $90 at the Verizon store and that charges my phone. This case just looks awesome while protecting my phone. Would I regret the purchase afterwards? Most likely not. The case is going to outlast the phone. It's not that I don't understand why it's priced how it is; I totally do. The way they machine this thing is an expensive process, and we reap the rewards with a really nice case. It's just a rather large mental hurdle to drop that kind of cash on something I'm used to treating as a commodity.

What I Liked:

What could use improvement:
Price point

This case is really awesome. Like I said, I would not regret nabbing this and putting it on my phone. It looks great, functions exactly like I want it to, and weighs less than my glasses. If Really Right Stuff makes more products that can be widely accepted by the general public and continue to maintain this kind of quality, I'll be excited.

You can check out all the options at ReallyRightStuff.com.

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Dan Lubbers's picture

RRS took the Apple bumper design and made it out of Aluminum with their logo for an absurd price of $125!  - So what? 

I'd love to see some signal tests... There has got to be some interesting signal degradation around the metal designed over the metal band that is the antenna of the phone...

Element Case makes holes and designs plastic parts around the edges to help manage this, but with this, its a solid piece wrapped around the phone.

Johannes Lietz's picture

Their web page says: "Does not interfere with signal strength." We'll see.

philip's picture

on the iphone 5, the metal band is not the antenna. antennas are located behind the glass panels on the rear.

Photo Kaz's picture

I had an aluminum Element Case for my iPhone 4S. It looked awesome, best looking case on the market by far. Problem is that it degrades signal strength. Cell signal is obviously affected, but wifi even more so. I had to ditch the case, the good looks just didn't trump usability.

Also, the plastic bits Element put inside the case don't help at all. The problem is the metal, you can't get around the physics. Look up the Faraday Cage, the RRS case will have the exact same problem.

It's too bad, I have RRS gear and would love an aluminum case for my iPhone but not at the expense of signal strength.

Dan Lubbers's picture

I had the Element Nickel Satin Vapor case for my 4S I got from a friend and even though he gave it to me for free, I ended up ditching it as well because of signal degradation...

Norm Cooper's picture

^^^^  people actually use their I-phone as... a phone?!?!?

Easy test: on the iPhone 5 dial *3001#12345#* to enter field test mode. This will replace the signal bars at the top left with actual dB readings (or dBm - I can't remember). Monitor the dB levels for about 5 minutes noting natural fluctuations (will go up and down at random, but usually only about 5dB+/-), then put the case on and repeat. About 10 dB is about 1 bar (very loose rounding). The number is actually a negative number, so the lower the number, the better the reception is. If there is no appreciable change in dB reading, then there is no signal loss in cell reception. For wi-fi, just time a download with the case off and then again with it on without moving locations. To be really accurate, do it multiple times (32 if you want a proper test sample size) for each test (case on vs. case off) to account for natural fluctuations and average results. Any testers?

Dan Lubbers's picture

Field test works on any iPhone. I've field tested all of my iPhones since the 4. I was going to mention it but really didn't think anyone would know about it. It's also how I've leveraged with AT&T when I have a crap signal at my house. For the longest time I was at -110 and I kept complaining and a few months later they finally fixed the tower. Before they fixed the tower I ended up getting a free Micro-Cell Tower from them while I waited. I know have a signal of -70. It's helps to be intelligent! 

Actually something like this would be great for making a time-lapse. Could be great for composition. Does it work with other pods like the Jobi or other things that can wrap around things?

Jaron Schneider's picture

You would have to put the RSS ball head and attachment on it. If you can do that, then yes. 

Anthony Chopin's picture

If you're reviewing their products online, you should really make sure your abbreviations are accurate! :P

Jaron Schneider's picture

haha you got me. That's what I get for responding between sessions of Far Cry 3.

Seshan's picture

I bought a knock off element case from china for $10, it looks great and I was impressed with the quality, but it was all aluminum and degraded my signal, it even had foam pads on the inside to help stop that from happening but it didn't work. Stay away from metal iphone cases.

if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it.

silence :)

I'll be interested to see a drop test.I would think that an aluminum case like this would transfer all of the energy of an impact to the phone. Plastic/polycarbonate would presumably absorb at least some of it.

Nic Cage's Hair's picture

$125 for a bumper with no protection for the front screen and rear phone/camera element? Sign me up!