If you have been looking for serious protection that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your Samsung Galaxy S4, then you need look no further than the $79.95 anodized aluminum, carbon fiber, and TPU Eclipse S4 made by Element Case. It even includes a kickstand and sound boost system!
The Eclipse is composed of two pieces; an anodized CNC machined aluminum bezel and a TPU main body. The back of the case has an aerospace-grade carbon fiber insert in its middle. I’m not sure that it adds any extra protection in this location, but it certainly breaks up the otherwise monochrome back of the case and gives it some visual interest.
This would be a good time to mention that the Eclipse S4 is available in the following combinations: black with a silver bezel, gray with a silver bezel, gray with a black bezel, and the color I was sent — black with a black bezel.
- High impact resistant TPU Body
- SBS (Sound Boost System)
- Integrated kickstand
- Genuine carbon fiber backing
- Reinforced corners
- Ergonomic shape for a positive grip
- Integrated button design
- Designed in California
Getting the two parts of the case to separate is a bit tricky; you don’t want to pull on the aluminum bezel, because you might bend or warp it. The included instructions show that pressing on the upper left corner is the way to begin, and I found that to work well. It does take a bit of force to separate the TPU from the aluminum. Don’t worry too much about whether you are doing it wrong — as long as you have your thumbs on the TPU backing, the back of the case will naturally pop off of the aluminum bezel’s grooves it is locked into.
Once you have separated the two pieces, you simply lay the S4 into the TPU case back, and then press the aluminum bezel down as you work your way around the case so that the grooves can lock into each other again. The result is a really nice looking and protective case that doesn’t add much weight or bulk to the Samsung Galaxy S4.
One of my biggest complaints about the S4 involved worries about how well its body would hold up over time; Mitchell even dropped his, cracking the back battery cover. When the S4 is in the Eclipse case, I feel confident about carrying the S4 anywhere, and I am not worried about drops that might otherwise prove lethal to the device. The bezel around the screen even manages to provide face-down protection; it does look like there is very little room left for a screen protector of any type, but hopefully the Gorilla Glass 3 screen doesn’t really need it.
All of the ports and microphones are still completely accessible when the case is installed on the S4; the power and volume buttons are covered with the Eclipse’s “integrated button design”, and they work well.
Those who enjoy watching movies and streaming content on their S4 — or those who like to use it as a bedside alarm clock — will appreciate the integrated plastic kickstand. It snaps into the back of the case when not in use, and it will flip out as needed with a well-placed thumb flick.
The Eclipse S4 includes Element Case’s patent-pending SBS (Sound Boost System), “which channels sound waves from the S4’s rear speaker allowing them to exit at the front of the Eclipse case.” They also say that the “sound boost and quality enhancement make for better game play and video viewing without the use of head phones. It’s Element Case style, ruggedness, and innovation for the serious Android user.” I can tell you that this absolutely does work, as I noticed a striking difference in volume levels when the S4 was inside the case versus when the case was off. The holes for the sound booster are on the right side of the screen bottom …
… and on the left is the generously sized lanyard hole for the included wrist lanyard. I’ve always liked lanyards on my phones, and I like that it is possible to use one with this case.
I should mention that removing the S4 for the Eclipse case is actually easier when the phone is inside it: you start at the bottom — where the charging port is, and you peel the TPU portion of the case up and back.
I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that if the Samsung S4 used for this review was mine — and not a loaner that I’ll be sending back shortly — I would choose to keep it in this case. If the case was offered it in black with a red bezel, I would swoon. I can only wish that Element Case would consider making something similar for the HTC One that I’m using these days.
The Element Case Eclipse S4 is protective, good-looking, and functional, plus it manages to accomplish all of this without turning the otherwise svelte S4 into a brick. Well done, Element Case!
The Element Case Eclipse for the Samsung Galaxy S4 is available directly from the manufacturer.
What I Like: Protective and good-looking; kickstand for viewing movies and streaming videos; Sound Boost System that channels sound from the back of the S4 to the front; Included wrist lanyard
What Needs Improvement: A little tricky to install and remove, but nothing too complicated
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample