Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S Review

Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S Review

Legend says that long ago, Buddha asked all the animals to gather with him on the new year. Only twelve came, and to honor them Buddha named a year for each. January 31st ushered in the year of the Horse, an event which is commemorated by the Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S. While even the mildest dose of skepticism would say that it’s unlikely for people who, as the legend says, are born during corresponding years to retain the specific characteristics found in their patron animal, assigning a rotating cast of twelve animals to commemorate the passing years is a lovely tradition. Most westerners are at least aware that Chinese culture does this, thanks to  placemats like this in Chinese restaurants everywhere …

Chinese Zodiac

Looks familiar, right?

Whether you were born in the year of the horse, or you just happen to like horses, you can celebrate 2014 with the new Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition.

This special Solace case uses the colors red and gold, which are traditional colors for the New Year season; red is for joy or festivity, and gold is for wealth. The Solace uses CNC machined aluminum crowns which have been “hand polished and anodized in a bright gold finish, while the durable and sleek polycarbonate chassis is emblazoned with a unique horse graphic.”


The simple styling and sparse lines of the horse on the case remind me of Xu Beihong’s iconic horses. I was unsure about the meaning of the first two Chinese characters on the case (the third was easily translated as “year”), but my friend Larry Liaw was able to help …


So here is the combination how Chinese people to express the year in Chinese calendar. Find the “A7” where it is located in this table, which is just the present Chinese year. By sequentially,adding 1 letter & 1 number simultaneously every next year. Therefore, following are the B8, C9, D10….. It will finally go back to “A7 year” again every 60 years.

The first two characters represent “the combination Chinese people use to express the year in [the] Chinese calendar”, and the third character actually means “year”.  When I asked about the differences between the characters on the case and those shown on the explanatory grid, he said, “these three words are stylized, just like the “Word Art” you usually used in Microsoft Office.”

Larry went on to say that the first character “means the “10 heavenly stems”, imagine that as the letter of A to J. The second word means the “12 earthly branches”. (Imagining that there are 12 numbers: 1, 2, 3 … 12). Chinese people used to choose an animal to be an index of a year by sequence, there are 1- Mouse, 2- Buffalo, 3- Tiger, 4- Rabbit, 5- Dragon, 6- Snake, 7- Horse, 8- Sheep(or Goat?), 9- Monkey, 10- Chicken, 11- Dog & 12- Pig. These 12 animals are also aligned with 12 earthly branches. So, the year A”7” also means the year of “Horse”, the ranking in the 7th of the 12 animals.”

It may seem silly, but it was important to me to know that the characters on the case were accurate; I was glad that Larry was able to explain why and ultimately confirm that they were.

Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S Review

Included in the package are the case, a screen protector, a microfiber cloth, two extra gold anodized screws, the special speed wrench, and a  CNY Soft-Tec Quick Draw Sleeve ($24.95 when purchased on its own).

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The Chinese New Year Edition case is light yet protective. When in it, all of the iPhone’s corners are covered as well as the back. I already had a tempered glass protector on my iPhone, so that took care of my screen, but there is screen protector included in the kit.

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Installation of the soft-touch polycarbonate case is accomplished by undoing the four gold screws and sliding off the golden caps on each end.

Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S Review

The fit is tight, but the iPhone is inserted by sliding into the case starting with the mute switch side and then popping in the opposite. Installation is finished by sliding the gold aluminum end caps over the red receiving posts and inserting the screws.

Once installed inside the Element Case Solace, all of the iPhone’s ports, speakers, buttons, and switches are easily accessible. I like that the mute switch is left uncovered, but I think that the gold covers on the volume and power buttons looks lovely. I especially like that the bottom of the case is left largely open, because it means that more of my aftermarket charging cables will still work.

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You don’t have to be Chinese, celebrate the Chinese New Year. or believe in the Chinese Zodiac to rock the Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S; all that’s required is a need for solid iPhone 5 or 5S protection and a love for horses and bright, attention getting colors.

Bonus: Here’s Dan on video talking about this case. =)

 The Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S is available directly from Element Case.

MSRP: $124.95

What I Like: Sleek protection that doesn’t add bulk to weight to the iPhone 5; Bright, festive red with gold accents; Includes a brown “Year of the Horse” slip cover; Includes a screen protector

What Needs Improvement: It’s a bit pricey, but it is also quite beautiful

Source: The Element Case Solace Chinese New Year Edition for iPhone 5/5S was a manufacturer supplied review item

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.