We here at t3chniq just got our hands on the Cygnett ICON Art Series case for the iPhone 5. With the ICON line, Cygnett is seeking to provide a lightweight shell that also looks great. The term shell typically leads me to approach the item with caution as most shell-style cases I have used are quite flimsy, so how does the ICON perform? Read on to find out.
The design on the ICON case may actually be its most important feature. For this particular ICON case (from the Ronnie Tjampitjinpa series) Cygnett had to travel thousands of miles into the Australian desert just to speak with Ronnie. Well, who is Ronnie Tjampitjinpa? He is considered to be one of the best Aboriginal artists. Ronnie style is also quite unique (even for the Aborigines) as these pieces of his work focus more on great line-work instead of the standard “dot-based” structure of most Aboriginal artwork. Cygnett has put together a great series of videos describing this process. The case that I have been using, called “Rain Making” focuses on nesting squares, with a nice dark/light contrast throughout the case. There is also another case from Ronnie called “Echidna Dreaming”, as well as others from different artists all in the ICON series (pictured below).
The case also provides a really great tactile experience. The entire case is covered in soft-touch rubber, making for a nice slightly grippy feeling, but that is not all. The case is textured to match the artwork, meaning that each ridge in the artwork is also a ridge in the case. Although very minor (we are talking less than 0.01mm difference in depth), this detail adds great texture to the back of the case. How the case looks is obviously important, but that doesn’t matter if the case does not fit well.
So as I mentioned above, the ICON series case is more like a shell for the iPhone that provides minimal coverage and really only protects the back of the phone from scratches. This thin shell-like nature of the case also leads to some rather interesting design decisions. For instance, rather than cutting holes out for the sleep/wake button and the volume buttons/mute switch Cygnett went with a large cut-out leaving the entire top (and bottom) of the phone exposed, as well as the area around the volume buttons. While this cutout design is not fundamentally flawed, I have been having a hard time consistently hitting the sleep/wake button, I think that there is not enough of a gap between the edge of the cutout and the button, overall though, this issue is quite minor and merely requires a couple of presses to get used to.
The lack of shock protection may be jarring for some (especially if you are coming from a Otter Box or similar case). This does not really pose an issue for me as I typically use my phone without a case so I do not expect any shock protection in my daily use. From a pure heft vs protection perspective, however, I much preferred the Poetic Atmosphere as a go-to lightweight case as both cases are of similar thickness, but the Atmosphere let me be a bit more absent-minded in how I placed my phone on surfaces. So the big question: Should you buy this case? If you are looking for a thin shell for your iPhone with some nice artwork and a grippy texture that doesn’t get stuck to your pocket when you try to get your phone: Yes. If you are looking for a thin case that allows you to potentially drop your phone without ruining both the case and your phone, probably not.
Price: $29.99 from Cygnett
- Nice texture
- Comes with Screen Protector
- Some button access issues
t3chniq verdict: Buy if you want an artsy shell case for your iPhone 5.