STM is largely known for their laptop bugs, but recently released a line of iPhone 5 cases. The pillars of the company’s design philosophy are quality, protection and style. We put their latest to the test, so please read on for our full STM Opera Case review for iPhone 5.
There is a segment of case buyers who are content purchasing low cost cases from eBay or *gasp* from a mall kiosk. Cheaply made, poor fitting and often not worthy of covering what is about a $700 device before subsidies. The premium for iPhone 5 cases from reputable, experienced manufacturers seems to be getting smaller each year. Take STM cases which can be found for $16 and up on Amazon.
The STM Opera case is a single piece construction made of a hard TPU material throughout, both on exterior and interior. By itself, there is some flexibility to it. To install, you simply slide in the iPhone 5 and then snap the remaining corners into the case. These cases all come in a matte finish and allow for a nice grip, always helpful to protect against accidental spills.
The back of the case reveals a tire track design. To my surprise, this added little in the way of making it more grippy. To be fair, if it wasn’t there, I could see this case potentially have a slippery feel. The design gives it a more rugged look, if that’s up your alley. There is a significant layer of hard plastic for protection, but little in the way of any added shock absorption. At the top of the case, a large oval has a logo nod to STM and a cutout for the camera. It’s not clear why case manufacturers refuse to cut the camera hole smaller and in line with the design of the iPhone 5. The top of the camera lens is close to the case, so why not make the bottom line up with the black, rather than exposing some of the slate. It almost looks as if the designer wasn’t sure about the size of the camera, so made a larger cutout to be safe.
The bottom of the STM Opera case has a healthy cutout, so this will allow for the 30-pin adapter without issue. On the left side, the volume and mute switch are recessed, making it slightly more difficult to access these buttons. Nothing too terrible, but you’ll find your thumb sitting on edges of case and pushing a bit further to hit the buttons. for the power button, STM had good intentions when they made the front lip dip in where you’d press the button. I would have liked to seen this done on the rear of the case near where I’d assume most access their power button. Accessibility to the power button was in no way hindered.
The STM Opera has a significantly sized rim around the front of the display. While dropping an iPhone face down isn’t good for its lifespan, this added rim won’t hurt. Earlier I mentioned the premium associated with well known case manufacturers, often deserved for fine craftsmanship, design and materials. STM fails to deliver in the crucial area of a good fit on the iPhone 5. I found the STM Opera to bow at the top and bottom – and it was significant. This case also suffers from the rim at the bottom and to some extent the top, being floppy. Over the past few weeks, there were a number of time where I’d grab my iPhone and feel the case rim feel loose. When cases create cutouts for ports, the material becomes thinner in those areas. Cases like the SwitchEasy Tones succeeds in this area due to their harder TPU construction. There is no movement when grabbing your iPhone.
STM promises ‘intense attention to detail’, but has delivered a middle of the road case with the Opera. It’s certainly durable, but the fit was not up the standards one would expect when paying a premium over a mall kiosk case. All flexible silicone cases are susceptible to the floppy bottom syndrome, as the area is thin due to necessary port cutouts. This does not forgive the bowing which occurred at both the top and bottom of the case.