iPhone 4S Case Review: Element Case Vapor Comp

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A phone as awesome as the iPhone 4S ought to have a case that is equally awesome. Right? So when I knew my iPhone 4S was on the way, I reached out to Element Case to see what they recommended. The response? The company’s Vapor Comp would be just the thing! We’ve had a chance to check our Element Case’s offerings before but the Vapor Comp offered something new. It LOOKS like the Vapor we previously reviewed, but it has an entire non-metallic side that ensures the best signal strength possible. It also has a new bumper-type insert running along the inside of the metal frame to provide even more protection. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to review the bright red version or go with something more subtle like the silver Vapor Comp with a clear plastic side; the company sent both! 🙂

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Unlike the Vapor Pro Judie reviewed some months back, the Vapor Comp doesn’t come in a fancy box. Then again, if you are using the case who needs a fancy box? Unfortunately the Vapor Comp doesn’t come with a carbon fiber back either. That IS a bummer, and I would highly recommend ordering one at the time you place your order for the case. [They run an additional $29]

From ElementCase:

VAPOR COMP for all iPhone® 4 models: The Vapor COMP is the newest edition to the Vapor family. The COMP features a high impact injection molded polycarbonate cap to prevent any loss in signal from the “Death Grip” problem. It features a CNC machined aluminum frame that has been precisely fine tuned to accommodate aftermarket peripherals and audio connectors. The aluminum frame is enhanced with a TPR elastomer rubber grip on the side of the case. This increases the feel and ergonomics of the Vapor COMP case.


In this marketing image you can get a great sense of just how refined the case is. The three black areas along the side are the new insert showing through the three gaps built into the aluminum.

Here’s my video look:

More from ElementCase:

With the same slim profile as the ground breaking Vapor 4, the Vapor COMP goes even further by offering larger accessory ports, improved ergonomics and a polycarbonate cap to maximize RF (radio frequency) performance.

The new Vapor COMP is available as a complete kit including a non-glare screen protector, Speed Wrench for easy installation, and a protective back plate made of genuine plush Ultrasuede®. Other back plate options are available for a custom look.

The new Vapor COMP is targeted to iPhone 4 and 4S users demanding an elite case with exceptional style and performance. It works with iPhone 4S, GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) iPhones.

Like all cases in the Vapor Family, the new Vapor COMP is made in the USA with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship.


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As noted, the case doesn’t come with the traditional carbon fiber backing that we have previously used. The company does include a soft microfiber back plate with the Vapor Comp. It looks and feels good in the hand, but I do wonder how it will hold up over time.

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The microfiber self-adheres to the back of the phone. It is a nice backing material, but it isn’t of the same quality and feel as the carbon fiber. In fact, it doesn’t come close. My advice, if you can afford it, is to order the carbon fiber plate.

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The red Vapor COMP stands out! This is especially true if you use the included black microfiber back. Yes, as with all of the company’s cases it adds some weight and bulk but it really looks… and feels… amazing.


For all versions of the iPhone 4 and 4S

Precision CNC machined aluminum frame

High impact polycarbonate cap prevents “death grip”

TPU liner for shock absorption

Better ergonomics with new TPU grip details

Six stunning monochromatic colors schemes to choose from

Includes CNC machined Speed Wrench for easy installation

Includes anti-glare screen protector

Included genuine Ultrasuede® protective back plate (black).

Upgrade options available

Made in USA

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The company made the opening at the bottom of the case larger enough that almost all after-market dock connectors will work. This isn’t something to take lightly since I have run into issues with some cases not working with, for example, my car charger.

In addition, the sides of the opening are a bit “thicker” than the rest of the bottom. This keeps the vulnerable dock connector and speaker openings even further away from anything that might damage them.

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Along the side of the phone that houses the volume buttons and the mute toggle, you can see that while the toggle is left open the volume controls are now hidden behind two areas of cutout plastic. This serves to protect the volume controls whole making them as easy to access as ever. In fact, when you realize that the mute toggle is not more difficult to access, you will appreciate the fact that this case design doesn’t force you to dig into the case to raiser or lower the volume.

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At the top of the case you will find a cutout for the 3.5mm headphone jack and the top-side microphone. The opening is large enough to accommodate most headphone jacks. Once again, this isn’t something you can take for granted, as many cases create an issue if your headphones of choice use a large plug. The sleep/awake button is protected behind a silver metal cover. Despite the cover the sleep/awake button works with the same smooth ease it would if there were nothing on top of it.

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Finally, the remaining side lets you see the three cutouts in the aluminum and the interior bumper coming through. Out first encounter with Element Case’s products left us a bit mixed. The cases looked great but KILLED reception. The company quickly addressed the issue and there hasn’t been a problem since. This series of cutouts is part of their commitment to making great cases that also let your iPhone work as expected!


The Vapor Comp is a premium case for those who really want something that not only protects their phone but is also a joy to use. It is also rather nice that the case gets a ton of attention. In a world of “me too” iPhone cases, the Vapor Comp is a “look at me” case; the fact that it comes in a range of colors means you can get just the right one for your taste. Or, if you order more than one, you can use whichever case fits your mood on any give day — or even interchange their parts to create new color combinations. Just be prepared to spend a few minutes swapping one Vapor Comp for another, as the screws it uses are tiny. (Which is why the included speed wrench has two extras built into it.)

You can order yours here on the ElementCase website. Prices start at $99.99.

MSRP: $99.99

What I Like: Looks great; High quality; Made in America; A nice range of available colors; Cutouts large enough to accommodate most headphones and sync cables

What Needs Improvement: Doesn’t include the carbon fiber back; Pricey


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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.