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Element Case Sector 5 Black Ops Elite: The tactical case for your iPhone 5

Element Case is one of the few iPhone case manufacturers we talk to on a regular basis that continues to innovate with impressive designs that are entirely different from the mainstream. Whether it's their wood, aluminum and leather Ronin or the original Sector 5 case, you can be certain that an Element Case is going to be something that stands out from the crowd. Today we're taking a look at the Element Case Sector 5 Black Ops Elite (US$219.95), which is the perfect case for the Navy SEAL, SWAT team member, or tactical team wannabe in your life. We're giving our review case away, so stick around until the end of the review.

Design

To get the amazing look of this design, Element Case worked alongside Hogue, a manufacturer of handgun grips, rifle stocks, knives and holsters. Hogue's G10 material is used for the back plate of the case and the knurled side grips as well. G10 is described by Element Case as "a high-pressure thermoset plastic laminate consisting of multiple layers of woven fiberglass mesh cloth impregnated with an epoxy resin binder." In other words, this stuff is tough!

As usual, the frame of the Sector 5 Black Ops Elite is made of ultrathin CNC machined aluminum for light weight and strength. There's a clip on the back of the case, but a tactical holster is also included for extra protection. Speaking of protection, you can make sure that your SWAT team buddies aren't able to see the incoming FaceTime call from your girlfriend since a Stealth privacy screen protector is included.

What else is included? You're going to need to know how to field strip this case in the dark with your eyes closed (just kidding), so Element Case throws in a little speed wrench to help in installation and removal.

The case comes in four different finishes. There's a black case with black G10 inserts, a black case with OD Green G10, a Desert Tan case with black G10, and Desert Tan with Dark Earth G10. Our review case came in the black and OD Green scheme, which looks extra sexy in my personal opinion.

Functionality

Like all Element Cases, the Sector 5 Black Ops Elite has a little bit of assembly required. You need to install the aluminum frame first, then install the back plate. The clip on the back plate can be oriented in one of two positions -- once again, you'll need to remove and then replace a pair of Torx screws and some spacers to do so.

For the purposes of giving the review case away, I did not install the "rash guards" that are used to prevent scratching of the iPhone 5's frame, nor did I install the screen protector. The adhesive on the back plate is designed for removal.

Removing the upper right screw on the case with the included wrench took only a few moments, and then the case opened up like a watch band to wrap around the iPhone 5. There's a bit of what looks like neoprene padding in several key areas, keeping the aluminum frame from directly transmitting shocks from drops and bumps to the aluminum frame of the iPhone 5. Of course, not that long ago Element changed the design of the Sector 5 cases to include small amber plastic pieces that allow for more flexibility of the frame in case it is dropped onto a corner.

Once the frame is installed, it's time to clean the back of the iPhone 5 with the included alcohol-soaked cleaning wipe. When the back of the iPhone is completely dry, you remove the backing on the G10 back plate and then press the back plate onto the phone. The adhesive for the back plate doesn't cover the bottom half-inch or so, providing a small area to pry off the back if you want to remove it.

I liked the feel of the Sector 5 Black Ops Elite -- it's extremely rigid and solid. The belt clip grips well but is easy to install and remove from a belt, and the included tactical holster wouldn't look out of place on the equipment belt of any SWAT team member. The look of the case is amazing as well; Element Case made the Sector 5 Black Ops Elite look futuristic, while the Ronin it shares lineage with looks surprisingly steampunk.

The use of Hogue G10 material on the case is pure genius. The material is used for Hogue's line of handgun grips, rifle stocks, and knives (in the handles) and it is not only strong, but has a completely unique look to it.

The price of the case definitely puts it into the luxury category, but as the old adage goes, "You get what you pay for." Here's a case that should keep your iPhone 5 protected and lookin' good for years to come.

Conclusion

It's not the case for everyone, but Element Case has another winner on their hands with the Sector 5 Black Ops Elite. If your tastes tend toward the tactical, you'll love this case.

Pros

  • The combination of machined aluminum and Hogue CNC machined G10 make this a strong yet lightweight case
  • One-of-a-kind tactical accessory look
  • Included tactical belt holster adds even more protection
  • Element Case's redesign of the Sector 5 case includes more flexibility in corners for better drop protection

Cons

  • A bit expensive, but who's worried about the price tag?

Who is it for?

  • The iPhone 5 owner who wants something strong and unique protecting his or her investment

Giveaway

So, does this case have you drooling yet? One TUAW reader is going to get to take our review unit out into the field -- it could be you!

Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before May 26, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive a Element Case Sector 5 Black Ops Elite iPhone 5 case valued at $220
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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