This article was published on May 6, 2011

The Exovault EXO10 iPhone case is work of art in wood and metal

The Exovault EXO10 iPhone case is work of art in wood and metal
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

There are hundreds of cases for the iPhone 4. The Exovault is the only one that I can refer to honestly as a work of art.

Exovault is a company that makes relatively expensive iPhone cases out of various metals and woods. The EXO10 is their newest creation. A gorgeously fitted two-piece case that’s made of aluminum or brass with a rosewood inlay. I’ve included some images here shot in my garden but I can tell you that none of them do this case justice, it’s gorgeous.

This case consists of a top and bottom frame that are held together by small bolts that you tighten with a supplied allen wrench. The bolts fit nicely into inset sockets that leave them flush with the front surface of the case. Having four bolts to tighten means that you can adjust the fit of the case to accommodate for screen protectors or body films.

The rear panel of the interior is coated in a vinyl insert that will protect your phone from scratches. The front bit sits tightly against the front of the glass along the very slim border. Because there is essentially no play in the case once you’ve tightened it down you’re unlikely to end up with issues with scratching here but it is a remote possibility. I had no problems during my testing.

Both the front and rear frames have a light brushed-metal finish and are anodized so that there’s no unwanted metal burrs. Each case is carved out of a solid block of milled aluminum. The interior edges of all four sides are beveled attractively, creating an oval window effect on the sides of the case. The large openings on the top and bottom mean that I had no issues with third-party headphones or dock connector cables.

The exterior of the EXO10’s rear panel is absolutely gorgeous. The rosewood inlay sets into the frame completely flush, with rounded spines of metal projecting into the surface. The detailing effect is great and creates the feel of a piece of hand crafted furniture. The camera opening is generous and I had no issues with flash blowback or camera vignetting.

Exovault’s EXO10 feels fantastic in the hand, solid, as if it was one piece, with little to no play in the frame once it’s tightened. As it’s metal you may find that the edges can be uncomfortably hard in some positions. Holding it lightly in the palm was no issue but balancing it for long periods on the side of my pinkie, as I’m wont to do, did cause me a bit of discomfort.

Because the framework is metal you will experience a loss in reception strength. Exovault even acknowledges this on it’s site, right up front. In testing this case and the EXO8 I found that I was unable to get a drop in reception in any areas with already good coverage. If the reception was poor though, I could easily get a drop of 2 or more bars with the case on. If you’re constantly in areas of shaky reception, you should be aware of this.

Most of the cases in Exovault’s lineup will set you back more than you would normally pay for any iPhone accessory that wasn’t powered. The EXO10 is no exception and it’s $155 price tag will no doubt turn many off. If you have the money, though, and you love well crafted and beautiful art that you can use. you couldn’t find a finer piece to own.

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.

Also tagged with