Product: Phone Protective Case
Price: £19 – £37
Available for: Sony, Samsung, iPhone, HTC, Huawei
Product Tested: Sony Z5 Premuim Case (£22 paid)
Test Length: 3 Months
We all love our mobile phones and most of us take them everywhere we go. Sometimes we don’t realize just how much we have invested in this one piece of kit that we throw about all over the place and leave laying around in some very precarious places. With some handsets costing between £500-£800, it makes sense to give it the best possible protection that we possibly can.
Following on from our podcast episode no. 86, listeners will know that I am using the Sony Z5 premium handset. A very nice piece of kit. Listeners will also know that in the past, mobile handsets have a hard life with me. They go through all sorts of trials while at work and home life. With this in mind I decided to go for a case that reflected the potential issues the poor handset might have to ensure. With this in mind I went for the Love Mei ‘Powerful’ Protective case. One look at it can tell it’s designed to withstand more than a little punishment.
First things first, if you search through Amazon you will find the same case sold under both Love Mei and Alienwork names. This shouldn’t deter you from checking this case out. Many cases especially those made by Chinese/Japanese companies are sold to multiple companies to sell on so there probably multiple names for many different cases and phone products on the market. Now the name issue has been cleared up we can get on with the review.
This case is a beast! Choosing to use this case is not a decision you can take lightly, literally. This case is no lightweight. The weight of the Sony Z5 premium is 180 grams but with the case added the weight becomes a staggering 434 grams. It’s also a chunky beast. The hardest itself is quite a slim and sleek piece of hardware and the case changes that to make it become a much larger, more robust looking device. If you are planning on slipping this discreetly into your trouser pocket or hiding it away in a suit jacket then think again, this beast takes up a lot of room. The Sony Z5 premium is large with a screen size of 5.5 inches or close to 14cm but the case makes the phone into a much larger device, closer to a 7/8 inch (20cm) tablet than a phone. This also makes it pretty noticeable when putting it to your ear to chat.
Design wise, the case looks amazing. It really gives off a sense of robustness and durability. The sides are thick and raised which they call ‘ballistic bezels’. These are pretty useful as it really does keep the majority of impacts and damage away from the screen. You could happily put or drop this phone face down and know that the screen wouldn’t hit the surface. One thing i’m not a fan of with this case is the front logo. It takes away from the heavy duty look a little and doesn’t really need to be there. They could have easily put the same design on the rear of the case if they had to. The case does a great job of keeping the speakers, cameras and flash working at their optimum whilst still being as protected as much as they can be. The are all recessed enough into the frame of the case yet still just as easy to access and use as they are without the case on.
The clever aspect of this case is its over engineered design. The case is made up of three separate parts. The top section is made of aluminium and has a protective second screen made of Corning Gorilla Glass, great protection for phones with lesser screens and double protection for phone screens also made out of the same glass. The second section is the inner ‘impact truss’. This is a rubberised shell that the phone fits into very snugly and has a lattice style construction around it that continues to the tough rubberised edges of the case. This section helps protect the phone from the shakes and sudden concussions that come from drops and bangs that can fracture a phone. The third section is the back. Built similar to the first front section in aluminium, it also has a rubberised part of the truss poking out slightly that seems to be there just for looks but in fact is handy for a couple of reasons. Firstly it helps cushion the phone when put down on surfaces in a shock absorber way as well as making the phone somewhat more comfortable to hold and use as an actual phone. All this construction is bolted together by six Allen key bolts which keeps things secure and also gives it a strong looking rugged feel.
The case also has over-sized rubber buttons that work really well and don’t need too much extra moment to activate over the phones actual buttons. The cases buttons are matched well to the phones location so there’s no ‘button dead zone’ which I’ve noticed on other tablet cases and similar products. The USB charger is covered by a rubberised pull out section which does the job well but does have the feel that if anything was to give way or come off in the lifetime of this case then it would be that. The headphone socket is covered with a flick up lever which keeps things looking tough and secure but does cause one slight issue depending on the style of headphone jack you have. If yours is a 90’ style like the ones that came with my Z5 premium then due to the case being so deep and protective, it makes it tricky to slot in and more so to take out without potential risk of damaging the headphones or possibly the headphone socket. Straight headphone jacks are fine and have no such risks.
The case also has a lanyard slot and does come with a lanyard to attach but with this case weighing as much as it does, I think it’s not really a feasible idea. Included in the case is not one but two allen keys. This might seem somewhat overkill but in fact one is necessary in order to get to the other. The reason being is that someone in their infinite wisdom over in packaging decided to insert the branded allen key into the case before packing and then seal it up inside the case that’s then bolted together with said allen key bolts. The second allen key is taped to the inside of the packaging which you need to take out the bolts in order to get the, what i assume is the original intended key out as well. Packaging fubar with a convenient fix all in one go. Odd but it all works out fine.
Fitting is simple. Once you have found the second allen key to undo the six bolts and taken out the original allen key along with the packaging you simply slot the phone into the rubber center section and then attach the front and back together with the allen key bolts. The whole action should take no more than a couple of minutes. Simple but effective.
I have to say I love this case. It’s certainly not for everyone. Its big, it’s heavy and it makes a sleek smartphone look more like something that Iron Man or the Terminator might use but then again, that’s up to personal taste if you want such a thing. I had a Sony Z2 phone and I had to replace the screen twice in its year and a half life span with at least one of those times being due to the phone probably bending while in a pocket causing the glass to shatter and replacing screens is not cheap. The first time cost me close to £150! Factoring that into the decision, the price for this case makes sense. Spend a fraction now to prevent more outlay later.
The case looks and feels tough, much tougher than most cases out there and with the second glass protecting the screen I had far more confidence in it over those stick on glass protectors. The only true test for a phone case is time however so this test become a 3 month field test to see just how things would go……..
3 Month Field Test Results
I decided to make this more of a longer term field test review rather than just looking over the product and giving my opinion as i felt that something like a phone case and especially one that’s designed to be rough and tough needs to be able to live up to that statement and just by looking at a product doesn’t mean it will be as good as it should. Three months in and I can say that the protective case has been tested. I can even say that the case has been tested to destruction! For the first couple of months the case performed perfectly. Absolutely nothing wrong at all and it was tested. It went through many bangs, bashing and drops during its life. I’m hard going on my phone handsets and so the protective case needs to be able to withstand that and this did. It survived drops onto concrete, wooden floors and down flights of stairs. It passed with flying colours. I even had the unfortunate experience of objects hitting the screen during a work place incident and it held up well. Its child proof as well. my 2 year old tried his best to do his worst and the phone survived admirably. However, one night was to push the phone one step too far. At the end of the day I did my usual of throwing the phone down on the bed and soon after i also threw the tv remote in the same direction to use later. When I say the same direction I really mean it. The tv remote connected with the screen of the case and hit with a good amount of force with the corner of the remote. I heard that heart stopping crack that we all know means a large repair bill usually and after inspection there was indeed a crack in the glass.
What was found on closer inspection was that it was only the protective screen that had cracked and left the phone completely undamaged. At first i was understandably annoyed with the case as a tv remote managed to kill it, not exactly the most destructive device i could have used but yet there was the damage. Thinking about it though I realised that the case had done its job. The case had prevented the phone from taking the damage. That is the point of a case, to protect. When looking back at what it had been through and survived and knowing that the screen is obviously the hardest part of any phone to protect due to the need to use it constantly, I decided that the case had held up to its design and made the ultimate product recommendation by buying a second one.
The first case was black and I decided to switch it up a little and try the silver and black version. This also gave me a chance to check out build quality of the product over two identical products. I’m happy to say that the second one is just as tough and well made as the first. Its doing its job protecting my phone, keeping it nice and safe from my technology destroying ways. I have considered going with a somewhat more-so overkill approach and adding one of the stick on screen protectors to the outside of the case to protect the screen of the case. That hasn’t happened yet as I think it might hamper the touch screen smoothness of the phone.
One note that should be made is that there are replacement screens available online via e-bay and similar places which cost around £5-£10 depending on the particular case screen that needs replacing. As I haven’t tested one of these yet I can’t speak to the quality of them but it may be something for a potential buyer to consider.
This is a difficult product to give a score. Firstly the size isn’t going to be for everyone. Its big and bulky but then if you didn’t want that in the first place, you wouldn’t be looking at this kind of design. Secondly, as I’ve described above, during my field test I experienced a break in the protective glass. This should knock the score down somewhat. Then again, the case and the protective screen did exactly what it was meant to do. If the case screen wasn’t there doing it’s job then my phone would have ended up with a damaged screen and my wallet facing a large empty section where money used to be. The screen will always be the weakest part of any phone or its protective case. Its the most difficult to strengthen without loosing use. The case did its job for me and that’s the main reason why I decided to buy a second case to replace the original. Yes, these cases cost more than most other cases on the market but I think they do a better job at protecting what they are meant to protect. I really don’t think that a cheap screen stick on would have saved my screen and that pretty much helps me decide on the overall score for the Love Me ‘Powerful’ Protective Phone Case. It lived up to my expectations, I would have liked the screen to handle more punishment but in the end, it sacrificed itself to save the phone screen and when you add to that the fact that the rest of the case holds up to a good amount of punishment then I feel confident giving my score. It may not be bullet proof or in fact remote proof in certain areas but it is Graham proof and that’s what matters!