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As a reviewer, every once in a while I get the opportunity to check out something unique. Today’s review may not seem exotic since it is an iPhone case but you will have to take my word, this is a unique case. Recently I spoke at length with Jeff Sasaki, the owner of Element Case; the interview can be found here – http://www.testfreaks.com/blog/interview/interview-with-jeff-sasaki-ceo-of-element-case/. He was kind enough to send Test Freaks a pair of customized LIQUID iPhone Cases, one of which we will be giving away shortly. Stay tuned for that announcement.

Element Case is best described as a boutique iPhone case maker. They make distinct cases with several color choices and an assortment of distinct graphics for the Flip-Lid. For an additional price, they can custom build their cases to customer specifications. Want a certain color or graphic on your case, no problem.

Besides their unique and stylish experience, the LIQUID case is also one of the most shielding iPhone cases on the market. Unlike other cases, it can accommodate both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G.


Element Case was kind enough to send us not one but two cases, one for review and another for a soon to be announced Test Freaks give away. The cases came packaged in a black cardboard box with a clear plastic window. Enclosed in the packaging was a LIQUID Black and LIQUID White case; each custom laser engraved with the Test Freaks logo on the aluminum back plate. Also in the box in addition to the cases we find two instruction packets with a hex tool and spare screw and two additional Flip Lids.

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The Black LIQUID case came with Onion Grey Flip Lid, while the White Case had a Reef Blue Flip Lid; each of which had a custom laser engraved Test Freaks logo. The two additional Flip Lids are Apple Green without a central logo and a Cinder Red one with the Element tribal logo.

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With the Flip Lip in place the LIQUID case measures 4 ¾” x 2 ¾” x ¾” and weighs around two ounces. The base is composed of a high impact injection molded polymer and is hand painted. On the front of this base is a molded polycarbonate bezel which secures the iPhone into place. On the back of the case is an anodized aluminum back plate.

In each corner there are nickel plated fasteners, which serve two functions; one is to lock the iPhone 3G securely into the case and the second is to act as fixation point for the magnets on the Flip-Lid. The Flip-Lid is composed of translucent Acrylic and comes in a choice of six colors.

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If you choose, the aluminum back plate and the acrylic Flip-Lid can be custom laser engraved with your personally chosen logo.

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On our black LIQUID review sample, we see the Test Freaks head logo in the center of the aluminum back plate with the Element Case logo on the bottom left corner and limited edition production number, in this case 001. On the opposite side of this number is the camera opening. In each of the four corners we see the nickel plated fasteners.

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Looking at the sides of the LIQUID case, we find openings for the volume, mute switch, head phone jack, power button, speakers and dock connector. The polycarbonate bezel sits on top of the iPhone’s screen protruding about a millimeter off the screen’s border. This leaves almost the entire iPhone screen open and exposed. To protect the screen, Element Case provides the Flip-Lid, which magnetically attached to the bezel; thus totally protecting the iPhone.

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The Flip-Lid snaps into place with the magnet fasteners found on the four inner corners of the Flip-Lid. On the front of the Flip-Lid these closures will sometime have the Element ‘E’ engraved over them.

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Specifications:

Element Case LIQUID

The LIQUID CASE is designed to fit both the original classic iPhone, and the new iPhone 3G.

Shaped with GamePlay in mind, the Element Case provides a totally unique look.

Starting at:$99

This custom painted case is the Hot Rod of all cases!
The base is molded in a clear high impact polymer and custom back painted (painted on the inside) to give this case a deeper luster than 20 coats of hand rubbed lacquer. The aluminum back plate is anodized to match the case color of your choice. It’s laser engraved with a unique graphic design that is used for only one season and then retired. Making your case a truly limited design. The Liquid case uses the same patented “Flip Lid” as the “Alloy”. Each lid comes in a variety of colors and graphics of your choice. Each colored Flip Lid gives a different and unique iridescent glow when the display is lit. The magnetically held Flip Lid is easily removed and placed on the back of the case when the phone is in use.

*Special builds are available on request. This means if you supply the graphic and paint color, we’ll build it!

Each Element Case is custom built and hand-assembled in the U.S. The LIQUID cases are injection molded from the finest clear Impact – Acrylic and PolyCarbonate polymers. Every LIQUID Element Case is then custom painted with up to 7 layers of House of Kolor** paint, to provide a quality appearance.

Graphics are precisely Laser Engraved into the Flip-Lid and Backplate of every LIQUID Element Case, providing a customized look for the iPhone* and iPhone 3G*.

Installation involves removing the magnetic Flip-Lid, then removing the bottom two bezel screws using the hex tool included with the instructions. Next slide the iPhone into the case and then replace the screws without over tightening. Attach the magnetic Flip-Lid and now your iPhone is housed in its new protective shell.

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As seen in the multitude of picture, this is a gorgeous iPhone case. It is stylish and rugged at the same time. Plus the laser engraving makes it more personal to the user than the numerous iPhone cases out on the market. Besides the OtterBox iPhone cases, this is one of the few iPhone cases which provides all encompassing protection for the iPhone including the screen.

Due to the protective ability, the case does add additional bulk and weight to the iPhone.

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Unfortunately, the screen protection provided by the Flip-Lid also reduces some of the accessibility to the iPhone. That is the trade off for the total protection for the iPhone. The main issue with the Flip Lid is that you will need to use two hands to remove it since the magnets are very strong. Trying to flip it off using one hand will send it flying off. Once removed, the Flip-Lid can be attached to the back of the case, thus keep it available for replacement back onto the front of the LIQUID.

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Another concern is whether the magnetic closures on the Flip-Lid may harm the iPhone. I researched the use of magnets and whether they can damage an iPhone and found mixed reports on the web. The consensus is that the iPhone uses Flash Memory which does not get damaged by magnetic fields, yet some people give anecdotal reports that their iPhones did not function properly after using cases with magnetic clasps. Apple does not have a policy about this issue, but they do sell cases with magnetic closures, so I would assume that they are not against the use of magnets with the iPhone.

My other two complaints are minor: one is that the Acrylic material attracts fingerprints, which is not unique to the LIQUID as many other cases are made of a similar material and are also acts as fingerprint magnets. The second issue is that there is no belt clip attachment. Hopefully Element Case will remedy that in the near future.

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Conclusion:

Element Case is one of the first boutique iPhone case designers. What separates them from the rest of the pack is their ability to create custom cases to their customer’s specifications. They have pre fabricated limited run case designs sold with your choice of twenty one different graphic designs and six standard colors. If you desire some more to set you apart, then you can have a custom designed case with laser engraving on the case and Flip-Lid and custom coloring.

The price is definitely steep, but with the Element Case LIQUID you get a tough durable case which is also great looking. Add in the custom design and you will have something unique in a sea of iPhone toting people.

Pros:
Sturdy Construction
Looks awesome
Protects the screen
Can be custom built to order

Cons:
Expensive
Flip Cover in the way of accessing the screen.
Fingerprints are easily noticeable on darker case models.
Adds bulk

Grades:  
Overall score 9 10 thumb1 Element Liquid Case
Design score 9 10 thumb1 Element Liquid Case
Performance score 9 10 thumb1 Element Liquid Case