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Designed by m's AL13 iPhone 5 bumper: Review and giveaway

Steve Sande
Steve Sande|@stevensande|September 6, 2013 5:00 PM

The first time you know there's something special about the AL13 Aerospace Aluminum iPhone 5 bumper (US$59.99) from Designed by m is when you open the plain cardboard box. Slide off the top, and inside you find a slender, aircraft-grade aluminum (13 is the atomic number of aluminum, by the way...) bumper and a packet containing a screen protector.

We've reviewed a ton of aluminum bumpers for the iPhone 5 over the past year, but just about all of them require some sort of special tool to install or remove the bumper. That's not true of the AL13, which features a slide cover -- like that on the brushed-aluminum box -- for assembly and removal.

To install the bumper on the iPhone 5, you simply slide off the back, drop in the iPhone and then slide the back onto the bumper again. The inside of the AL13 features a thin liner to keep the bumper from scratching your precious phone, and there are precise cutouts for all of the various buttons and ports on your device. The edges are chamfered to match the general design of the iPhone 5, and the only ornamentations added by Designed by m are a tiny circled "m" logo on one side of the case and a diminutive AL13 logo on the other side.

The AL13 comes in five different anodized finishes -- gunmetal, blue, slate, silver and red. As mentioned previously, there's a polyurethane screen protector to keep your display scratch-free, and for the back, there's a protective film.

Designed by m notes that the design of the AL13 does cause a signal loss of about 5 to 10 percent, but counters with a comment that the average loss for other aluminum bumpers is about 25 percent.

The top feature of the AL13, in addition to the no-tool installation, has got to be the weight. It's a feather-light 14 grams, or adding only about 12 percent to the weight of the iPhone 5.

So, does it do what it should do -- protect your iPhone 5? Sure -- it will keep your baby from getting scratched on the sides; it provides some protection from drops on the sides; and the added protective films should help somewhat as well.


The Designed by m AL13 is a lightweight way to protect your iPhone 5 (or 4 / 4S) without hiding it in a thick plastic shell.


  • Very easy to install and remove, no tools required
  • Reasonably priced at $60 (some other aluminum bumpers we've reviewed have cost as much as $150)
  • Nicely packaged, would make a wonderful gift for a friend or relative
  • Sleek, adds to the lines of the iPhone 5 rather than detracting or hiding them


  • A little bit of "play" in the case might be annoying to some people

Who is it for?

  • The iPhone 5 owner (there are also 4/4S versions available) who wants to protect his or her investment without compromising weight or the design of the device.


We have not one, but TWO AL13 bumpers to give away, both in the beautiful gunmetal finish seen in the photos accompanying this post.

Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before September 10, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Two winners will be selected and each will receive a Designed by m AL13 Aerospace Aluminum Bumper for iPhone 5 valued at $59.99
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.
Designed by m's AL13 iPhone 5 bumper: Review and giveaway