When Fusionwerkz reached out to us at Gear Diary to see if we’d be interested in reviewing their RAW case for the iPhone 4 I was admittedly a little hesitant. After our experience with the Element Vapor Case I was worried about how the RAW, which is also an all aluminum case, would affect the iPhone 4′s reception.
The case arrived a few days ago and I’ve been using it ever since. The RAW is made completely in the USA and crafted from 6061 T4 aluminum. That’s “Greek” to me but I do know this – it’s super light weight and super durable yet it feels glossy and silky in your hand. The case comes presented inside a metal box, making it one of the more interesting and unique types of packaging I’ve seen.
The RAW is available in a variety of colors. You can choose from Fire Red, Steel Silver, gun-metal Gray, Burnt Orange, Royal Steel Blue or the Satin Black I was sent for review. Inside the box you’ll find the case tucked inside a soft pouch along with the installation tool, two extra screws and an identification card which includes your case’s serial number.
The RAW case is composed of two pieces, both of which at first glance look identical except for the screw holes in the top half. They are fused together by the included four hex screws and installation tool. The RAW draws an obvious comparison to the Element Vapor with one notable difference. The RAW case features sides that are fully exposed. If you’re worried about reception issues the hollow sides of the RAW case are there to allow as much of the iPhone 4′s antenna to reach into the airways as possible.
Fusionwerkz warns that if you plan on using a screen shield with this case you made need to remove some of the felt protection that lines the interior in order to prevent bubbling. I had both a front and a back shield on my phone at the time of this review and didn’t experience any bubbling at all.
To install the RAW case you place your iPhone 4 into the back portion of the case then place the top half over your screen. Then, using the included tool, you screw down four hex screws which serve to lock the two halves together.
Take your time with this step. The screws are small and you don’t want to lose one. You screw the hex screws in just to the point that you feel a little bit of pressure. You don’t want to over–tighten them for fear of them becoming stripped.
The finished look is reminiscent of Apple’s Bumper case in design only. The RAW wraps around the iPhone 4′s edge in a tight, compact manner. It feels extremely solid and well built and if you assemble the two pieces correctly you’ll experience no creaking or movement of the two pieces.
On the bottom of the RAW there’s one large cutout for accessing the iPhone 4′s speaker, main microphone and 30-pin dock connector. Unlike some of the other cases of this type that I’ve tried the ports aren’t terribly recessed. I was actually able to place my phone into my Griffin Simplifi Dock (with the dock adapter insert removed) and successfully charge and sync my phone.
Along the left side, and the right side for that matter, there’s essentially one giant cutout. This serves two purposes. The obvious one is that it gives way to full access to your phone’s volume buttons and vibrate switch. The not so obvious one is that it keeps the antenna band of your phone fully exposed, out in the open so that it can “grab” as much reception as possible.
On the top there’s another large cutout, just like the bottom, for access to the iPhone 4′s headset jack, secondary microphone and sleep/awake button. I did find it a little harder to press the sleep/awake button than with some of the other cases I’ve used but not hard enough that I’ll say it’s a big issue.
Since the case only sits on the phone’s sides the back your device is left fully exposed. This means you won’t have any problems shooting pictures with the iPhone 4′s camera and flash, but it also means that the somewhat fragile glass back of your iPhone 4 is unprotected. You’ll probably want to invest in either a skin or a back screen shield if you pick up one of these cases.
The RAW offers a nice amount of lay-on-the-table protection. The edge of the case rests above the iPhone 4′s screen so you needn’t worry about placing your phone screen side down first onto any flat surface. Or back side first, for that matter, since it leaves the back exposed as well.
So now on to the million dollar question. How was the reception of my phone when using the case? The answer, good. When I first installed the RAW onto my iPhone 4 I noticed little or no change in my reception. After a few days of use I did start to see one bar fluctuation here and there but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary. Both WiFi and 3G signal were unaffected as well as GPS. Your mileage may vary of course, but based on my short testing I didn’t experience any major decrease in reception. If losing one bar of signal is a concern for you, I’d venture you’d be better off looking for a new cellular service provider rather than a new case.
Whether it’s the felt lined interior or the open sides I don’t know, I’m no expert. What I do know is that although it’s an aluminum case the Fusionwerkz RAW doesn’t seem, in my limited testing, to have any effect on reception whatsoever. So if you’re looking for a metal styled bumper case for your iPhone 4 you’ll want to check out the Fusionwerkz RAW. It’s sleek and silly smooth in the hand, offers a good amount of stylish shock and impact protection without sacrificing any usability.
You can learn more about the Fusionwerkz RAW case by visiting the company’s web site.
What I Liked: Can be used with third-party accessories, good fit, color option
What Needs Improvement: Sleep/Awake button can be hard to press