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The Incipio Atlas ID is super protective, but it hates your thumb and it's not crazy about you, either

I should start out by saying that I've always really liked Incipio's iPhone cases. Of all the cases I've used since the iPhone 3G -- and there have been dozens -- Incipio's accessories are one of the few brands that have never fallen apart on me. Incipio also holds the honor of making the only case I've ever used for an entire iPhone generation (the Incipio NGP case for the iPhone 4).

So, when I got the chance to take the Incipio Atlas ID, the bar was already set pretty high. Unfortunately, a variety of design choices have left me feeling just OK about the case, rather than impressed.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 5.4" x 2.66" X .0.52" (137.16 x 67.56 x 15.75mm)
  • Weight: 2.06 oz
  • Case Material: Polycarbonate w/ rubber wrap-around

Design

The Atlas line are called "ultra-rugged" cases and are advertised as being waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. To its credit, the case is indeed all of these things, and after securing it to my iPhone 5s, it did give the phone a feeling of indestructibility. I wasn't too punishing on the case, and tested about a 4-foot fall onto a thin carpeted surface, which it took with zero issue. I also drenched the phone in the sink (this had me sweating a bit), but it survived just fine. From a protection standpoint, it's definitely tops.

Functionality

However, protection isn't everything when it comes to a smartphone, and the device still needs to be 100 percent usable for a case to really be worth it. The first thing that left me a bit miffed was the ultra-spotty Touch ID accuracy when the case was in place. There is a thin membrane that covers the Touch ID sensor to help the case keep its waterproof promise, but this greatly hampered its ability to read my fingerprint. Without the case, my 5s gets my print correct about 95 percent of the time. With the case in place, that dropped by at least half. It often took two or three readings to unlock my phone, which made quick access quite difficult.

There's also a second problem with the Touch ID membrane: It blocks part of the screen. In the marketing materials, you can't see it (because it's been edited out, I guess?) but as you can see in the photo above, the black shroud around the screen has a bump by the home button that obscures a bit of the screen. This doesn't necessarily hamper your use of the phone, but it's surprisingly distracting when playing games on the device.

My last issue is with the touchscreen protector itself: It's just not responsive enough to use on a daily basis. With the case in place, the touchscreen doesn't read all of your touch commands. In fact, I found it downright frustrating to browse the web with the case on because it negated my swiping and most of my taps. A hard, firm press is often needed to register the desired response. Bummer.

Conclusion

Incipio's ultra-protective new case is indeed a savior for your phone in harsh environments. If I was headed for a day on the beach or a hike in the snow, I'd use it without question, but once I was within the comfort of my living room, it would need to be immediately removed. If you're looking for a case to occasionally equip like a suit of armor when needed, the Atlas ID is a great pick, but it's nowhere near ideal for daily use.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of a possible 4 stars

Giveaway

If you're planning a trip to Mordor, you might find the Atlas ID case quite useful, so follow the giveaway rules:

  • 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 January 16, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive an Incipio Atlas ID case valued at US$89.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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