Arc Pulse case review: The best case for those who prefer naked iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone
Barely covering the top and bottom of your iPhone, the Arc Pulse is as minimalist as they come while still offering protection.

Arc Pulse
Arc Pulse


Users who say they hate iPhone cases usually sling around their iPhones naked or with an ultra-thin case at a minimum. Arc Pulse is different, leaving most of the phone exposed. Simultaneously, it offers more protection around the corners than even a thin case would.

The Arc collection is available for all models of iPhone 12 and all models of iPhone 13. For our review, we're testing it with the iPhone 13 Pro.

When shopping for your Arc Pulse, you can choose between matte black anodized aluminum, polished silver titanium, or polished gold titanium. Arc has done a great job on its site, allowing you to cycle through all the various color choices and various colors of the iPhone. That way, you can see how it will look on the iPhone you own before ordering.

Is it enough protection?

Arc Pulse
Arc Pulse


The Arc Pulse has a dual-layer design. There is a metal exterior that covers an impact-absorbing shock-resistant layer.

Installation amounts to nothing more than sliding each piece into place. It holds on without any micro-suction, adhesives, or added grip. The softer internal material on the inside has enough tension to prevent the Arc Pulse from ever sliding off.

Initially, we were concerned the pulse would slip off with use. After a few weeks of use, neither piece of the Arc Pulse ever came free. It held its position well, even pulling from our pockets or bag. Removing the Arc Pulse case requires a concerted effort with purposeful force.

Arc Pulse
Arc Pulse


While sporting the Arc Pulse, we used a screen protector simultaneously. The front of the Arc Pulse barely wraps around the front, leaving enough space for the screen protector of your choice. It seems any screen protector will work, but Arc appears to be working on a sapphire glass screen protector judging by the "coming soon" banner on its site.

The biggest question surrounding the Arc is whether or not it will adequately protect your phone, which depends on your definition of adequate protection.

As it only covers the corners of your phone, much of your iPhone is still unprotected. Yet, it still protects the most vulnerable parts of the device, including the camera bump.

When your phone falls, it will most likely hit on one of the corners of the phone. In those scenarios, the Arc Pulse will take the brunt of the impact. The case will protect your iPhone in case of a side-impact too.

Where the Arc Pulse falls short is when your phone falls on a non-even surface. If you drop your phone on a gravel driveway or it hits multiple surfaces on the way down, the Arc Pulse on its own may not be enough to sustain your phone's pristine condition.

Arc Pulse
Arc Pulse on the couch


A screen protector is most certainly a must for some added reassurance. This will strike a better balance between protection and sleek design.

We see how most case manufacturers put the most reinforcement into the corners of their cases, and Arc has done the same thing, but removing the sides and back at the same time.

Should you buy the Arc Pulse?

Arc Pulse will certainly not be for everyone, which is ok. The case market is verbose with designs, colors, sizes, and unique features to satiate almost any need.

Users drawn to the Arc Pulse case want something different than what the case market typically offers. They want premium materials, but it still needs to provide a degree of protection to their phones. All of that while also touting the iPhone's signature aesthetic.

What gives us pause on the Arc Pulse isn't entirely the device's fault. Once more than massive camera bump on the iPhone 13 Pro causes issues. Because the camera bump is so large, the petite metal ring that Arc Pulse surrounds it with blocks certain MagSafe accessories from working.

Arc Pulse
Arc Pulse with MagSafe


This isn't a problem isolated to the Arc Pulse as some of Apple's accessories don't work perfectly either. The iPhone 13 Pro doesn't lay flat on the MagSafe Duo as just one example.

If you have the iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13, or iPhone 13 mini, these likely won't be problematic at all, but for the plain "pro," it's a cause of frustration. Be aware of what MagSafe accessories you use before deciding to pick up the Arc Pulse.

For reference, most MagSafe accessories worked fine -- it was just the larger ones like battery packs that posed an issue. That includes Apple's own MagSafe battery pack.

Arc Pulse box
Arc Pulse box


Outside of the niche MagSafe issues, we're fans of the Arc Pulse. It arrives in one of the coolest packages around, where pulling on a ribbon makes the top and bottom slide out, revealing the two pieces of the case.

We haven't seen a case quite like this before and are delighted by its svelte appearance. Just don't give up your AppleCare if you're tough on your phone.

Arc Pulse
Arc Pulse top


Pros
  • Great look

  • Titanium option is very lightweight

  • As minimal as it comes

  • Easily removable

  • Doesn't preclude MagSafe or wireless charging

  • Good protection for corners
Cons
  • Quite expensive, especially titanium

  • Won't protect your phone in every fall

  • iPhone 13 Pro's camera bump still causes issues with larger MagSafe accessories

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

If you'd like to pick up the Arc Pulse for your iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, you can find it starting at just over $100 on Amazon.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    applguyapplguy Posts: 203member
    Not my cup of tea but to each their own. 
    Spitbath
  • Reply 2 of 18
    SpitbathSpitbath Posts: 26unconfirmed, member
    That is just about the ugliest thing I have ever seen! It looks like an anti-theft device used for display models in a retail store.
    edited January 14 ravnorodomurashid
  • Reply 3 of 18
    Could you show a picture of the front of the phone with the Arc Pulse on it? Five pics of the back, zero of the front. :/ Even the Amazon site does the exact same thing. :(
    firelockdewmeapplguy
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 509member, editor
    martinp13 said:
    Could you show a picture of the front of the phone with the Arc Pulse on it? Five pics of the back, zero of the front. :/ Even the Amazon site does the exact same thing. :(
    Good point! Here is a quick pic from the front!
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 5 of 18
    This is an interesting design. Although the price seems expensive. 
    Dogperson
  • Reply 6 of 18
    My problem with this isn't actually a problem with this...

    I miss the rounded edges of my iPhone X. The 12/13 squared off edges just aren't as comfortable to hold (to me) as the rounded ones were when not using a case. And they slip if you're ever trying to sort of prop it up next to your head while in bed. That to me is one of the major benefits of using a case with an iPhone 12 or 13 - and this one doesn't seem like it would help with that.

    So while I applaud the product, and might have considered one with my iPhone X, there's no way I'd pay $110-$260 for something that doesn't solve one of my major issues with my phone.
    Dogperson
  • Reply 7 of 18
    thrangthrang Posts: 907member
    A hundred dollars for what?

    What a load...
    fred1
  • Reply 8 of 18
    I find this very appealing because I love the thin Iphones but the price is a dealbreaker. Made in US?-doubtful. Will stick w my Apple silicone felt-lined. It has worked very well so far everytime the phone has jumped to the ground ;)
  • Reply 9 of 18
    fred1fred1 Posts: 883member
    I like the concept, but why the titanium? How about a model without it for say, $30..
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 509member, editor
    thrang said:
    A hundred dollars for what?

    What a load...
    So the base model is aluminum. It needs to be CNC’d, polished, and then anodized. Those add up and are mostly done by hand. I agree, a little expensive but there’s also nothing like it. 
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 509member, editor
    fred1 said:
    I like the concept, but why the titanium? How about a model without it for say, $30..
    They do have an aluminum model, which is half the price of the titanium, but still not cheap with the amount of work that has to be done by hand. 
  • Reply 12 of 18
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 1,197member
    I’m sticking to my Apple Silicone case.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    For a hundred more you can buy Applecare +. 

    Spitbath
  • Reply 14 of 18
    BosaBosa Posts: 107member
    That thing looks ridiculous and will not protect a fall on asphalt 
    Spitbath
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Aesthetics aside--file those under "eye of the beholder"--you have to give Arc Pulse points for innovative thinking. At least they came to the iPhone case market with something genuinely new, and not just another ever-so-slightly different iteration of the typical iPhone case. 

    While this is "minimalist" in terms of amount of iPhone covered, it's about as maximalist as it gets in terms of changing the look of your naked iPhone. You just know you're going to get endless questions about "What's THAT on your iPhone?" 

    I have to say that once I got past my involuntary reaction to retch when I first saw it, I decided it was ugly in an interesting kind of way. Something I might want to try. Enough so that I looked on Amazon to check out the price and... YIKES. $220 for titanium in silver. $260 for the Ti in gold. The aluminum at $109 is only avail in black... meh. I get that it's custom work and all, but geez. For anyone who has gone down the custom flashlight rabbit hole, you know there are some really nice custom titanium lights that are made in very small production runs that are in this price range--and they're a much more complicated piece of work. involve more titanium, etc. So all things considered, the pricing here seems off and, needless to say, I won't be trying one. But if anyone here does pay the freight to get one, I hope you post what you think in this thread. 
  • Reply 16 of 18
    At first glance, what popped into my head was the ridiculous "amor" worn by the women on the covers of old pulp fantasy.

    As others have noted, I think I'll stick with my Apple case.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 509member, editor
    charlesn said:
    Aesthetics aside--file those under "eye of the beholder"--you have to give Arc Pulse points for innovative thinking. At least they came to the iPhone case market with something genuinely new, and not just another ever-so-slightly different iteration of the typical iPhone case. 

    While this is "minimalist" in terms of amount of iPhone covered, it's about as maximalist as it gets in terms of changing the look of your naked iPhone. You just know you're going to get endless questions about "What's THAT on your iPhone?" 

    I have to say that once I got past my involuntary reaction to retch when I first saw it, I decided it was ugly in an interesting kind of way. Something I might want to try. Enough so that I looked on Amazon to check out the price and... YIKES. $220 for titanium in silver. $260 for the Ti in gold. The aluminum at $109 is only avail in black... meh. I get that it's custom work and all, but geez. For anyone who has gone down the custom flashlight rabbit hole, you know there are some really nice custom titanium lights that are made in very small production runs that are in this price range--and they're a much more complicated piece of work. involve more titanium, etc. So all things considered, the pricing here seems off and, needless to say, I won't be trying one. But if anyone here does pay the freight to get one, I hope you post what you think in this thread. 
    This! I agree it won't be for everyone but I love that they are innovating in a very crowded market. I do happen to like the look and would rocky daily if it worked with the MagSafe battery pack and my Belkin car mount.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    Why doesn’t anyone make bumper cases anymore? That was always the best minimalist design to me. I had one of the ElementCase one that was wood and metal and felt so good in the hand way back in iPhone 5 days. 
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