There are many great things about the iPhone 5 and on that list has to be how Apple managed to design it so incredibly thin and light. So much so that users are not enamored with the idea of using a case. Even if the bulk added is a mere few millimeters, it can detract from the original design. If your primary concern is scratch protection, there are a growing number of minimalist cases available that very little to the original iPhone 5 footprint. Read on for our full review of the Spigen SGP Ultra Thin Air Case for iPhone 5, which might be the thinnest of them all.
When you look at the packaging, one would think you purchased a heavy duty case. The packaging is everything but ultra thin. Nestled in the hard core plastic packing is a thin, lightweight case. To call it light would be an understatement. It’s lighter than Incipio’s Ultra-Light Feather case. The interior of the case has a sticker that offers no protection features that I noticed. It’s primary function is to assure you that you are using a genuine, authentic case from Spigen. The company offers a serial number that allows you to authenticate the case at their website. Case manufacturers are seeing a growing problem with fake cases, so this offers you protection against purchasing a non-authentic case that might suffer from sub-standard manufacturing.
Placing the side with the volume buttons/mute switch in first, the case doesn’t snap on to the iPhone 5. There is no discernible click that gives you a level of comfort that it’s been installed correctly. Most cases will have a bezel that sits above the screen, but SGP Spigen hasn’t done that with the Ultra Thin Air. If you look just below the glass on the sides of the iPhone 5, you’ll see where the anodized aluminum has a slight bezel where the Ultra Thin Air is intended to grip. In fact, it looks as if it was cut to be styled in the same fashion as the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 stays in place, but I noticed movement throughout my testing. With the goal to create a minimal case, I’m guessing the designers did not want anything, including a bezel to interfere with the design. The sides of the case are literally flush with the display. It’s not good practice to place your iPhone flat down on a surface and this particular case does not offer any protection because of the lack of a bezel. During my usage, I would grab my iPhone 5 from the sides and I’d immediately notice how it wasn’t tight to the sides. In fact, it would create almost a crackling sound caused by the case sides bending in towards the sides of the iPhone and then retracting should I lessen my grip.
The bottom is completely open, so those looking to use 30-pin dock adapters can use them with this case. It being so ridiculously thin, I found zero issues when accessing either the volume buttons or mute switch.
From the exterior, the Spigen SGP Ultra Air is a thing of beauty. Beautiful lines and the matte-like finish feels good in the hand. The white verison I used looked stunning when coupled with a white iPhone 4. On the back, is a very nicely done Spigen logo. A very Apple-esque font on the side reads, “Designed by SPIGEN, Inc. in California”. I applaud them for keeping things simple, the result of which was a great looking case.
- Thinnest, lightest case I’ve used
- Great looking design
- Comes with serial number and allows you to authenticate your case
- Case never felt completely secure on iPhone 5
- Sides of case never flush with iPhone, resulted in crackling noise when you grip it
When you consider purchasing a minimalist type case, you have to get on board with the fact that you’re paying a high price for what is an extremely thin piece of plastic and you aren’t gaining any significant protection in the event of a drop. These are major concessions, but certainly worth it in the pursuit of ultra-minimalism. Conceptually, the Ultra Air case hits the mark. The beautiful, simple design offers basic scratch protection and it looks great on the iPhone 5. Where it falls short is with the fit. I found the Ultra Air is woefully lacking and that’s unacceptable at this price point.