id America Gasket V8 Aluminum iPhone 5 Case Review

The roaring sound of a performance V8 engine can give petrol heads a tingling sensation down in their nether regions. We wonder what an iPhone case might do. id America's Gasket V8 is an all-aluminum iPhone 5 case with an original design deliberately made to make your iPhone 5 look like it's part of a masculine V8 engine block. We haven't seen such a testosterone-loaded case like the Gasket V8 since we last reviewed the Japanese engineered Draco IV by Draco Design.

The Gasket V8 case is id America's second iteration, one that was first designed for the iPhone 4 and now brought back to encase the ever so worthy iPhone 5. As much as it may be a rehashed design, we have found that the Gasket V8 is an improved version of its V8-less predecessor. It's time to push the pedal to the metal to find out how well this case performs.

This has got to be one of the more unique cases we've seen which is aimed at car enthusiasts and anyone who likes this type of mechanical metal styling in general. The Gasket V8 is obviously inspired by the shape of a V8 engine's head gasket, and what's more is that the Gasket V8 case actually gives that authentic look and feel being that it's machined from metal, lightweight aluminum to be exact. The punched-out holes and patterns make it extremely light, but also pleasing in that it reveals parts of the iPhone 5 thru its skeletonized shape. I'm no mechanic nor do I know my way around an engine, but it would be fair in saying that the Gasket V8 does a great job in looking the part. And if you're an avid gear head, to you this is an appealing case. Other than the raw silver aluminum we have here, the Gasket V8 is also available in red, blue, yellow gold and gray.

But that's just it, unlike conventional and more mainstream case designs, the Gasket V8 is a love it or hate it type of iPhone case. I wouldn't mind saying that I'm not as much of a fan of it as I am a fan of the original Draco IV - which in terms of performance-inspired design is a much better looking metal case I think. There's something cheap about the Gasket V8, and it isn't the inexpensive $30 price tag, it's the fact that it feels like it's made using a stamping processes which is essentially the least passionate, non-precision form of producing something. The Gasket V8 cannot compare with the build quality of a CNC machined aluminum bumper made by companies like Element Case. Bare in mind however, that the Gasket V8 is priced accordingly. But if you're one to like premium aluminum cases, this one isn't going to cut it.

Putting that aside however, the Gasket V8 is a pretty nifty inexpensive aluminum case when compared to others. Being that it is designed to be a simple snap-on type of case, the Gasket V8 is one of the easiest aluminum cases to put and take off of the iPhone. It literally acts like a normal plastic snap-on case. One thing to note though is that unlike some minimalist snap-on cases, the Gasket V8 offers zero front protection which translates into poor drop protection. I'm not entirely sure at how well it'll fare in the event of a fall or drop, but I'd say this isn't the case you should be rocking if you want to protect your iPhone 5's screen against a drop, or the chamfered edge against a scratch or even an revealing dent. The Gasket V8 provides minimal corner coverage towards the back, and again leaving the front edges exposed.

There's a big plus to the mediocre protective design of the Gasket V8, and that is its wide and shallow bottom opening which enables you to dock your iPhone 5 with most but not all Lightning docks including unhindered compatibility with Apple's Lightning adapters and cables. And of course it also means you'll be able to use 3.5mm audio jacks which are larger than usual.

Speaking of cutouts, the Gasket V8 is designed with extra wide openings made for the volume and sleep/wake buttons including that pesky little silent switch which can be flipped on and off even if you have oversized thumbs. But this all comes at a cost because there's a lot of vulnerable exposed areas around the iPhone 5 which could easily be susceptible to damage.

The interior on the Gasket V8 has been vastly improved and there is a precisely laid-out layer of dense foam covering every little surface leaving no visible metal to contact your iPhone 5. This also creates a snug, assuring fit. There isn't any glue residue seeping out of the sides, an issue that downgraded the quality of the first Gasket case model.

A screen protector is included to make up for the non-existent coverage around the front.

Because the Gasket V8 has no overlay around the edges of the iPhone 5, the case looks and feels very streamlined when working with the touchscreen. Unlike the first Gasket case for the iPhone 4, this time id America improved the edges so that they are rounded using a rubbery type of material which we've seen being used on leather cases to create a pleasing finished edge or seam. Although it may have a jagged-esque appearance, holding the Gasket V8 is surprisingly comfortable as it cradles the iPhone 5 in an interesting guide-rail kind of way. The rounded-off edges and shape of the case help a lot in ensuring a really comfortable user experience we haven't seen in many aluminum cases.

There is one flaw that we didn't really expect though. The Gasket V8's full aluminum construction means that it poses reception interference to some degree even though it is well skeletonized. There seems to be a significant amount of metal covering up the iPhone 5's antennas which causes a drop in roughly 1-2 bars; and that will of course vary under different circumstances. So the Gasket V8 isn't a hybrid aluminum case resulting in some drop in signal strength based on our testing which is significant enough that I would often times notice a drop of 2 bars of signal strength when using the V8, which can result in poor data speeds if you're at a low reception area.

id America's Gasket V8 is a tough case to recommend, and we think you shouldn't purchase it unless you can live with a small drop in signal reception and aren't demanding any drop protection. The Gasket V8's Lightning dock and Apple adapter-friendly opening is a big, unimpeded positive many will come to appreciate. You have to really like the Gasket V8's unique styling and brushed aluminum qualities to give up on crucial protective coverage that stands between a cracked screen and another day away from Apple's Genius Bar. But if you aren't a total klutz, like the mechanical design that the Gasket V8 has to offer and want a simple snap-on case that isn't made out of plastic, then $30 for a lightweight aluminum case such as this will serve you well. Suffice it to say a devoted car enthusiast will be able to overlook the aforementioned negatives in exchange for an iPhone 5 case with a common interest.