At first sight the Vapor Pro Black Ops case looks like an awesome piece of engineering. Two pieces of precision carved aerospace-grade aluminum finished with a matte black anti-reflective satin coating. It all reads well on paper and looks good in pictures but is it really good in practice. Let’s take a look…
Element Case drew my attention way back with their initial creation of the Vapor case for the iPhone 4. It wasn’t as bulky as previous designs for prior iPhone models but I held off after reading and hearing about a growing number of disgruntled user’s experiences. These complaints ranged from low cellular, WiFi and even Bluetooth reception to none at all. This was not what I was looking for in a case nor did I want to test it in hopes of having better luck although some users did. Fast forward to present day and as with all things time marches on and companies either die in their own pool of ignorance or update their products to address legitimate issues to live another day. It took a while and a few design generations later for a case style that really caught my eye enough to make me take the plunge.
The Vapor Pro Black Ops Limited Edition package comes with everything you need to assemble and maintain your case plus a few small extras.
- Transit Zipper case
- Cleaning cloth
- Screen shield
- screen siled applicator card
- Ultrasuede back plate (Black Ops edition)
- Ultrasueade ear piece
- Vapor Pro speed wrench
- Vapor Pro replacement screws
- Certificate of Authenticity
The case itself is two pieces of precision cut aluminum finished off with a matte black anti-reflective satin coating. The only non-aluminum parts are the rubber insulation pieces (claimed to be made of an aerospace polymer material) on the inner runs of the case to prevent “detuning” of the iPhone 4 antennas and alleviates the common “death grip.” and one section made of a gold toned translucent resin which also according to their website the non-metallic section was created to provide better signal transmission. There are no visual flaws to be found in the design of this case. Each piece fits precisely around the iPhone giving it a good picture framed look once applied. The insulating materials within the case also helps protect the iPhone from impacts by allowing the phone to almost float in the case as the iPhone doesn’t seem to come in direct contact of the case itself.
So to test it, I put aside my trusty Otterbox Defender case and put the Vapor Pro Black Ops through it’s paces. I commute 5 days a week, each way running the Maps app on the iPhone just to get an indication of what traffic is like and keep it on until I reach my destination. Going between Brooklyn and Manhattan it was business as usual. There are only two spots in Manhattan here my phone may lose signal during my drive and nothing changed while using the Vapor Pro. The signal remained constant and the Maps app followed my trip without a hitch. My acid test for any phone with or without a case is the basement and garage areas where I work and mid-town Manhattan which is notorious for interrupting most any cellular signal. In every place I went my iPhone performed the same when compared to using it with the Otterbox case. There is only one area which I observed that the iPhone did not pick up a WiFi signal because it is inconsistent and weak to begin with so I couldn’t justify it as a negative. When I’m at home every piece of wireless technology also connected as always with no problems. I spent 3 weeks with the Black Ops case paying close attention to all wireless connections and I’m very pleased to say I have no complaints so far. The iPhone was still able to perform all my daily wireless tasks with the Black Ops case on.
I will also say that any time you start layering any material over a receiving or transmitting object you will likely degrade that signal at some level even if it’s imperceivable to the eye or ear. I’ve also read that even the Otterbox Defender has caused some phones to have reception issues although I don’t believe I’ve experienced that problem.
As you can see I have no problems with the Vapor Pro and I’m enjoying using it as it’s much less bulky than the Otterbox Defender case. I can’t justify the high cost of this case or more correctly stated a bumper and wouldn’t attempt to. The styling is good and it adds just enough weight the make the iPhone feel even more solid of a device than it already is. So I will leave you with just this. If you (1) don’t need justification to purchase a case at any price, (2) don’t mind spending $149.99 on a case, (3) you’re not going to upgrade to the next iPhone, and (4) you just like lavishly expensive accessories for your devices then go right ahead and pick this one up. The Vapor Pro Black Ops case can be purchased at the Element Case site.