Generally speaking there are two types of iPhone cases; there are single-piece cases, and there are multi-piece cases. The former often offer sleek styling with minimal protection, while the latter beef up the safety as well as the form-factor. The problem with both camps, however, is simple ubiquity.
The Rokbed v3 is a different kind of case for the iPhone 4S. Rockform, the company behind the product, actually defines is as a system. There’s the case — sure, that’s the biggest part — but there are multiple components, multiple options. Each Rokbed v3 comes with a few of these components standard. It’s a two-piece polycarbonate frame that boasts a series of unique cutaways that expose some parts of the back and sides of the iPhone, thus (somewhat) preserving its iconic visual appeal. I was a bit worried about these exposed areas, but the Rokbed has proven a sturdy enough shield against the elements that would otherwise seek to damage my precious phone.
The frame comes complete with a protective lip that ensures your iPhone’s screen never rests directly on a surface , which helps shield against drops and accidental scratch damage. Further, the lock mechanism, the point at which the top and bottom portions of the case meet, also features a channel for attaching the included wrist lanyard.
The case is further supplemented by an anti-slip grip pad that rests in the center of the unit’s back, and this pad provides for further customization. Rokform offers a number of different colored grip inserts, and some inserts can also accommodate a 10 lb. rare earth magnet. This option works great for those who wish to quickly secure their iPhones to the refrigerator while perusing recipes or to a handy file cabinet while at the office. The downside, of course, is that you’re walking around with a rogue magnet in your pocket.
Each Rokbed v3 also comes with the Rokform Remote Mounting System, or RMS, a specialized mount with an adhesive pad on one side and a bracket that easily slips into the Rokbed’s central back cutaway on the other. Once secured the RMS provides a quick, easy and safe way to store your iPhone in the car or around the house. A quick twist of the wrist attaches or releases the phone, and it truly adds some additional functionality to the product.
With all that said the Rokbed still has some disadvantages. The wrist-strap is amazingly helpful, but it does compromise the visual aesthetic of both the phone and the case. Perhaps more importantly, despite its open-air design the Rokbed doesn’t always play nice with cables requiring full port access. Larger-barreled headphones, for example, don’t quite have enough clearance to attach unimpeded. Even accessories like first-party 30-pin video output cables don’t connect flush with the iPhone, leading to performance issues and related frustration.
The Rokbed v3 offers solid protection with a style all its own. It also benefits from Rokform’s innovative design system. Unfortunately this sometimes puts it at odds with accessories and adapters from other manufacturers. Still, if you’re looking to break away from the vanity snap cases and bulky shells that currently dominate the market, it’s certainly an appealing solution.
WIRED: solid modular design, distinctive visual appeal, RMS and other specialty accessory integration is unparalleled
TIRED: port access is iffy
Review materials provided by: Rokform