Review: Dog & Bone iPhone 5 Case Lineup

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During my recent trip to International CES in Las Vegas, I came across a smaller booth for iPhone and Galaxy S III cases ran by Dog & Bone. The lesser-known accessory maker is based out of Willalong, Queensland, a suburb of the gorgeous coastal capital Brisbane.

I have been testing out a number of different iPhone 5 cases part of Dog & Bone’s Textures collection since my return from CES 2013, ranging in price between $39.99 and $49.99 each. The underlying feature of each case is a two-piece shell with interchangeable backplates. Full review ahead. 

Design

There are nine cases in the Textures collection: Burst, Chains, Checkmate, Cushy, Mike, Pipework, Sole, Tattoo and Tread. And each comes with three pieces: a front shell, back shell and interchangeable backplate made of stamped aluminum or molded thermoplastic.

The back of the cases have small protruding ridges that keep the iPhone elevated off the surface beneath it, which is a small but creative feature. The cases snap on easily, but are somewhat more difficult to take off. And I’m not the biggest fan of two-piece cases to begin with.

I’m also not a huge fan of hard plastic cases like these. I prefer a softer silicone case for my iPhone. The interchangeable backplates are well-designed and look unique, which is a good selling point for these cases, but the rest of the hard plastic casing looks cheap and makes the entire product look less stellar.

DB iPhone 5 Case

Dog & Bone “Tread” case for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S/4 and Galaxy S III.

Another minor element that I’m not a big fan of for iPhone cases is ones that leave the Apple logo exposed on the back of the handset. Dog & Bone has done this with a circular opening on the interchangeable backplates, and it’s just not the best looking idea ever. The rest of the iPhone is encased, so the Apple logo should be too.

While the hard plastic isn’t the best material choice, it does provide ample corner bump and drop protection for your iPhone. Dog & Bone claims that it has specifically engineered these corners to provide maximum shock absorption. While I certainly won’t be dropping my iPhone on purpose, I do believe these cases could withstand considerable force.

These cases leave the front bezel fully exposed on the iPhone, which would be fine if there was a screen protector of some sort included. While the packaging for these cases — which is very nice — does claim that a free screen protector is included, none of my cases had one inside. I’m not sure if this was a manufacturing issue, or simply because my particular cases are product samples. Nevertheless, a slight disappointment.

While there is an adequate opening for the rear-facing camera and microphone, using the volume rocker and sleep/wake button becomes more inconveniencing when you have one of these cases on your iPhone. I simply dislike cases that make it even slightly harder to operate my iPhone, a device that I rely on as my sole communication tool when on the go. One or two times, I found myself getting frustrated when trying to push one of the external buttons.

Value

Dog Bone iPhone 5 caseWhile I think that the interchangeable backplate concept is definitely the cornerstone idea of these cases, the rest of the design needs some work. If you’re looking to dish out between $39.99 and $49.99 for a new iPhone case, these Dog & Bone options might not be the greatest fit for you at this point.

Moreover, there is no way to purchase individual interchangeable backplates. Dog & Bone highly touts the ability to swap out these pieces for ones that are different colors or materials, but to do so I must buy an entirely new case. That’s just unpractical.

Wrap-up

While these cases are good in concept, other accessory makers simply do it better. There are a myriad of alternatives available on the market, in the same price range, that would outdo both the design and functionality of these Dog & Bone cases.

Having said that, these cases do have unique, abstract designs that I have yet to come across before. And the folks at Dog & Bone are also working on an upcoming leather collection, which will probably be better than this existing lineup of cases. But, for now, your money is better spent elsewhere.

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