It’s not often that I take the time to write about a case I’ve used, or really anything at all. In this case (no pun intended), this is my first encounter using products from Element Case. The Ronin G10 Stealth arrived at my door a couple weeks ago, sent graciously by Element Case for review.
The case is not intended for the masses, but instead is intended for those who want a Made in the USA, machined to perfection, work of art. As such, it comes in at a hefty $189.95 and is only available for order at the Element Case website. The Ronin G10 Stealth was designed for those loyal customers of the company who had asked for an all blacked-out version of the Ronin case.
The Ronin G10 Stealth comes equipped with mil-spec G10 side rails, power button in black, aerospace aluminum top and bottom crowns finished in black, stainless steel hardware and logo in black, and plush,non-slip Ultrasuede®; you guessed it, finished in black. You also get the Action Zipper case, along with the necessary hardware to assemble the case, as well as a blacked out Privacy screen protector with included microfiber cloth.
Much like the Apple product, the Ronin G10 Stealth experience starts with the box. Once you slide the box out of its thin cardboard wrapper, you find a hefty box covered with a smooth finish that lets you know someone actually cares not only about the product they sell, but also how that product is presented from start to finish. I opened the magnetic latch of the box to find the case assembled and sitting atop a pedestal. I removed the case, set it aside and found everything neatly organized and presented underneath the top panel that once held the case. Aside from what was mentioned previously as being included, there was also the expected instructions, and alcohol wipe, along with a set of black and a set of silver stickers that appeared to look as though they were designed to wrap around the sides of the iPhone.
Upon looking at the instructions, Element Case recommend you wipe the sides of the iPhone with the included alcohol wipe, and place the stickers or “scuff guards” on the iPhone prior to using the case to prevent dust from scuffing the phone.
For those of you unfamiliar with using a case on iPhone 5 or 5s devices, you should know that after a month of use without removing the phone form the case, you can expect a significant amount of scuffing or scratching on the anodized aluminum. Apple prevents this scuffing in their own case line by using a microfiber lining. Element Case’s solution to use a “scuff guard” is a wise move and other case makers should take note.
Just as Element Case recommended, I started installing the case by first wiping the sides down with the alcohol swab and then once dry, applied the black set of “scuff guard” stickers. The stickers are a bit tricky to master as they are slightly larger than the side as to cover the beveled edge of the iPhone 5 or 5s. After the scuff guard had been smoothed, I used the included speed wrench, which is basically a small allen head wrench, to remove the two top bolts allowing the removal of the top crown. I switched the iPhone to vibrate as recommended to properly align the cases vibrate switch with the iPhones, and slid my phone gently into the case. With the iPhone 5s in place, I slid the top crown back into place and inserted the screws back from whence they came. In theory, that whole process sounds very easy, but the aluminum crown and mil-spec side-rail are machined so exactingly that this process took a good 5 minutes to carefully align and slot into place. After having done this a couple times, there is knack to it and it seems simple in retrospect.
The next piece was the installation of the Ultrasuede®, which has a simple adhesive back that sticks to the iPhone 5s. I wiped the back of the iPhone off and simply adhered the backing in place. Element Case includes a textured pice of plastic to store the Ultrasuede® for reuse should you want to remove it and then use it again in the future. The final step to installation, was the included privacy screen protector, which goes on just like any other.
The case feels phenomenal in the hand. Instead of surrounding the iPhone like any other case, the Ronin G10 Stealth becomes the phone. Thanks to its CNC machining, the tolerances of the case are so tight that the case refuses to wobble, slide, or give any indication that it is in fact a case. The G10 side-rails are super hard, almost plastic-like in feel, but with a metal-like hardness. It turns out that mil-spec G10 is a grade of fiber glass composite made up of a glass fiber cloth with an epoxy resin binder, often used in gun or knife grips. What this means is a super hard, lightweight material, made to stand up to the task of heavy use. On the right side rail is included a blacked-out “E”for element case, made of stainless steel.
The power/sleep-wake button is also made of G10.
The top and bottom T6061 Aerospace aluminum crowns have the same fit, but with a smooth, black Flux finish. Volume buttons and vibrate switch are accessed through machined aluminum, which again feels as though it is the phone buttons and not a set over the original and respond with that same familiar Apple “click”. The lightning cable port, speaker and microphone on the bottom are accessed through machined opening with bevels to smooth any rough edges. The opening for the lightning cable is large enough to accommodate not only Apple’s brand, but also aftermarket lighting cables. The headphone jack opening is large enough to fit the stock EarPods, along with Bose headphones I tested as well. Don’t expect to use anything larger though without an adapter.
The Ultrasuede® back also follows the theme of precision with it leaving hardly any gap between it and the surround of the case. There is a cut-out for the camera, flash and rear-microphone with a slant on one end which allows for no interference with the flash when taking pictures. There also resides a simple “E” for representing the brand of case you are using stamped in the lower right of the back. The material is durable and provides a non-slip backing to your phone helping it not to slide on just about any surface. Initially, the Ultrasuede® was not something my fingers desired much to touch, but after using the case for week or so, the suede has become very soft and much, much nicer.
The privacy screen-protector was used for about a day and then it was time to come off. While the look of it and privacy feature was fantastic, the negative degradation to the display was just not worth its use. Instead, I replaced it with a glass screen-protector to keep away any scratches.
Drop protection is questionable as the material on the sides and top don’t really have much give to them. However, you can be sure that the iPhone won’t have any scratches on it from drops or bumps. After my couple weeks of use, I removed the case to find a lot more dust than I expected. Other than on the table or in a dock in my car, the iPhone resides in my right pocket. The amount of dust was a bit disturbing, but nevertheless, the scuff-guards kept any scratches away from my iPhone’s finish.
Overall the blacked out concept of the case looks “Stealth” just as described. This look admittedly is not for all, but then again, it is a special limited-edition of their Ronin series. I have to admit, I absolutely love this case. To my eyes and taste, it looks great, feels great, and doesn’t feel like a case. The case really is less of a case, and more of a transformation of the iPhone into another desirable object. Regardless of if you love it or hate it, the construction, precision and quality is unmatched when it comes to iPhone cases or accessories I have used thus far.
- Precision unlike any other case
- Unique style
- Made in the USA
- Questionable Drop Protection
- The Ultimate iPhone case is a must buy