I don’t remember exactly where I saw a picture of the Phone Rebel Crystal case for the first time. It caught my attention because the case design is very distinct, I haven’t seen any iPhone case that looks like this before. The most prominent feature, at the first sight, is that the case leaves the left and right side (except for the corners) of the phone entirely exposed.
In stark contrast to the left and right side, the four corners and and rim around the lenses are (according to the Phone Rebel website) protected by “aggressive guards”. The obvious assumption behind the case design is that phones are mostly dropping on corners.
This is the first case (to my knowledge) that lets me directly use the phone’s buttons. I’m not a big fan of the mushy haptics of buttons integrated into one of the cases I have been put on my phone in the past and the ability to use the iPhones buttons directly is a nice improvement.
What really sold me on the case is that (as mentioned before) protection focuses on the corners of the phone while the raised edges on the corners are taken back in the space between the corners so that the case is more or less level with the display.
In combination with the exposed side this makes swiping from the edges in all directions so much easier. On a typical case that has raised edges around the entire display you have to start the swiping movement on the edges and continue on the display. This issue has been solved very well by Phone Rebel, even for the invocation of Control Center.
As of now, the Phone Rebel cases can’t be ordered from big retail. I’ve ordered mine from the website of a company in (I think) the USA, and the case shipped from China to Germany in eight days. The case is not cheap, but still less expensive then cases sold by Apple.
The case ships with an additional screen protector and vinyl stickers to keep the exposed edges of the phone free from scratches. I haven’t applied neither the screen protector nor the vinyl stickers so far.
Overall, what I like about the case is that it tries to take itself out of the way as much as possible in terms of operating the phone. This is the closest thing to carrying a case-less phone while still enjoying a non-negligible level of protection against dropping.