We get a small number of physical products to review around here, and the streets are thick with iPhone cases of every variety -- but Element Case stood out. These aren't generic leather or plastic cases, they are somewhat beefier plastic cases available with metal, carbon or wood accents and sporting magnetic "flip" lids. The added surface area makes it a little easier to play games, especially if you're getting cramps playing Fieldrunner all day. At the end of this review we've got a special-edition TUAW Element Case to give away.
The phone is secure in the case because you have to unscrew the bottom of the case, slide the phone in, and put the screws back in. There are ports along the sides that allow you to access everything you'd normally need: camera, volume, sync cable port. You can't put the phone in the dock, however. The "flip" lid is a piece of plastic with magnets, and those magnets lock onto the screws. The lid attaches to the back of the case when you need access to the screen -- a nice design feature.
I'm not sure all this protection adds any shock absorption, but the phone certainly feels sturdier with a rigid casing on the outside. For games, the added surface area was welcome, even more ergonomic. Speaking of the casing, you can choose a CNC-machined version with a base in aluminum alloy (fits first-gen iPhones), but my model was the "Liquid" edition, which is injection-molded plastic (fits both 1st-gen and 3G iPhones). There's a slightly fancier plastic model with some wood veneer on the back, plus a nickel-plated model and a very limited-run of the "CRG" model. The only problem with all this is that several of the cases are for the 1st-gen iPhone only (like the CRG), so you'll have to peruse the shop and see what's available. Essentially everything is limited-run, which adds to the cache value of your case, if that's your thing. No designer case would be complete without customization, and Element Case will custom-engrave a design on the lid or back of your case.