Back in early May, we told you about some new aluminum cases hitting China for the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. The cases were interesting due to their design, colors, and $4 price tag.
Well, we finally got them in after their long trek from out East and here are my quick thoughts on them.
First and foremost, let me point out that these are cases, not replacement back covers like the Mozos. That means you will be adding girth to your phone, and I would not classify these as slim, per se.
The covers come in two parts:
- Aluminum side/top shell
- Thin plastic back cover
To install the lid, you just slide out the back cover, which locks in, and you drop the phone into the aluminum shell protection from the back. Then you slide the back cover in and it clips into the lock. To remove the cover, there is a small groove for your nail where you can pop out the back lid.
The metal part is quite substantial, and it feels splendid. This feature is important because I do believe this will provide adequate protection if you drop your phone. Granted, I also expected the color metal to dent and chip away the color were that to happen, but that is still better than your phone breaking.
The back cover is very thin plastic and is mostly cosmetic and just keeps the phone locked in. Because the cover itself is plastic, those who charge wirelessly via Qi will have no issue as the phone and case can quickly charge with no interference.
The back cover also has a cutout to let the Microsoft logo show through. It's a little cheesy, but since so many have complained that the Mozo cases do not have the logo maybe this will make some of you happy. I should point out that the Lumia 950 XL cases do not line this cutout perfectly making the logo now off-center, and you can see this in some of the photos here. This issue does not apply to the Lumia 950.
Finally, the aluminum case raises just slightly above the display to offer protection when placed with the screen facing down. I consider the amount of edge presented as being nearly perfect.
For this write-up I managed to get the black, silver, gold, and cyan covers. There is also a pink option. My favorite is the cyan, followed by gold and silver. The black, for some reason, seems chintzier to me than the others mostly because those fake antenna lines are very visible.
For the Lumia 950, the camera button area is carved out, which makes random camera button clicks impossible, but I have had no issue when I want to use the camera, either. It's an excellent design. On the Lumia 950 XL case, however, there is a faux button to replace the one on the device.
For both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL there are faux buttons that are also aluminum. To my surprise, they work very well and always make contact. They are not loose at all, and they feel great. This is one area where many case makers get wrong, and I'm glad to see that these pretty much nailed the experience.
On the Lumia 950 XL, the power button is slightly recessed when compared to the up and volume buttons that flank it. I think I would have preferred the opposite as I use the power button more than the volume keys, but at least there is a discernable tactile difference.
I think these cases will be very divisive when it comes to people's opinion of their aesthetic value. In fact, I know many of you will think they are "hideous" or "fugly." I will say they look better in person than in photos, and I get how some people will find them…off-putting.
Personally, I like the Cyan cover for the Lumia 950 and the gold for my Lumia 950 XL. If anything, the back cover here is the biggest offender with unnecessary silver lines added. While it does add some style, I would prefer they weren't there at all. Still, I have seen worse.
I would have also preferred if the back cover was not glossy and was matte instead.
Considering that these are quality aluminum cases, and they add some serious protection all for just $4, I mean, it is hard to ding these cases on value. In fact, compared to the $50 Mozo back covers you are saving a lot of money here.
If you find these covers hideous even $4 won't sway you, but come on, it's nice to have options out there especially ones that cost a cup of (good) coffee.
Also included are two decent screen protectors if you are into that sort of thing.
I think for owners of the Lumia 950 who want some reliable protection from drops with some added flair these are a bargain. The Lumia 950 XL variant has that off-center logo issue, which I find distracting, but it's also not the end of the world (seriously, have you seen some of the cases iPhone users buy?).
I also appreciate how these cases make the phones feel in my hand. There is some added heft, but not too much, and holding the phone is even easier. Honestly, they now feel like how a Lumia felt like two years ago.
While I think there is room for improvement on the look of the back cover the rest of the case feels great, features solid button replacements and at just $4 this is a case you could be pleasantly surprised with if you like the looks.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.