With so many people owning the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, there is a burgeoning market for cases that create a distinct look for your iPhone. One such case is the Draco IV from Draco Design. One of the more unique designs you’ll find, but does it deliver good protection and does the metal exterior present a problem for signal loss. Read on for our full Draco IV iPhone case review to see if this incredibly unique case is for you.
Designed in Japan, the Draco IV is a CNC machined iPhone bumper designed by Deff. That’s only half the process.The polish, anodizing and laser curving are all labor by hand. The materials have a extremely high quality feel to them and even by itself, the Draco IV looks impressive. What you immediately notice are the fluid curves and flowing lines of the case that are reminiscent of a muscle car.
What comes in the box are two pieces of handcrafted aluminum, four screws (2 of which are extra) and four silver aluminum buttons for the volume controls, power button and ringer/mute switch. Due the width of the bumper, the provided silver buttons sit within the case when it’s attached, so that you can still use the primary functions (volume, power, mute). Attaching the case itself would appear to be pretty straightforward, but it does require some patience due to the four buttons which sit inside the case as you slide the two sections together on the iPhone 4.
During my installation, there were a few times that button inserts would fall out. You’ll want to do this in a clean, bright area, since the hex screws are small and you might find yourself retrieving pieces of the case. With a steady hand, installation takes about 2 minutes or so. The two parts attached perfectly and the included hex wrench allowed for a super tight fit. There were no gaps or wiggle between the case and the iPhone. If you shake the case, the volume buttons were loose, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. As for those buttons, using these ‘extensions’ didn’t have any negative affect on usage. While I’m not sure if it was intended, but they add a custom element to the look of the case.
This being a bumper, I’d be concerned about the back glass and front of the iPhone. With my SGP Steinheil installed, there were no issues with bubbling, so I’m confident that you could use any screen protector with this case and you’d likely want to just that for enhanced scratch protection. This case will certainly protect the corners of the iPhone against damage, but you’ll probably find yourself looking to protect the Draco IV.
I was impressed with the quality of materials the design is simply gorgeous. The curves actually lend themselves to allowing for a better grip on the iPhone. If the intention of the designers was to create a head-turning design, then job well done. From a design and looks perspective, this is the Ferrari of iPhone cases.
From a functionality standpoint, the Draco IV has some pitfalls. The most notable being the impact of the aluminum on the wireless and GPS signal. During my testing, I noticed a drop of 1-2 bars, though it was dependent upon my location. At times, the iPhone would have GPS lock issues and this is troubling if you use Navigon or other navigation or mapping app. If you are in an area with spotty wireless coverage, this case is not for you.
The bumper has cutouts for all ports, including the microSIM slot. Given the width of the case, the 30-pin dock connector might not be accessible to some third party accessories such as an audio dock. Given the install process, you will not want to take the case on/or with any regularity. Once on, you’ll want to keep it that way.
Draco IV iPhone Case Review: Pros & Cons
- Flat out gorgeous looking design
- High quality materials and a beautiful finish
- Great fit
- Negative effect on wireless and GPS signal
- Will not work with all third party accessories
- Not easy to remove, install
The Draco IV is one of the most impressive looking designs I’ve seen in an iPhone case. The build quality is impeccable throughout and it’s the type of case that stands out in a crowd. Sadly, it’s these very materials that cause the iPhone 4 to suffer in areas where there is weak wireless coverage and that severely impacts how we’ve rated the Draco IV, a case we otherwise loved.
The Draco IV is priced at $89.99 it is available from Draco Design in an assortment of colors.