In today’s review, I will be taking a look at Elago Design’s S4 Breathe case for the Samsung Galaxy S II. Before we take a look at the Elago S4 Breathe, I would like to make note that this is not an Elago sponsored review–this case is a personal purchase and I would like to share with you my take on the the product.
Construction and Design
Okay. So for starters, according to their website, Elago’s S4 Breathe is a “carefully designed and constructed” case for the Galaxy S II that is made of durable polycarbonate coated with polyurethane. What that translates to is a very thin, lightweight, tight-fitting case that offers good coverage and scratch protection without adding bulk or weight.
The polyurethane coating on the case gives it that “soft-touch” feel–rubberesque but with a much finer texture, perfect amount of grippiness without making it difficult to remove from one’s pocket. There are 4 seam lines on the case, two on the inside which can be seen above, and two along the side, one of which can be seen below. Besides being hardly noticeable, after attempting to bend the case at those points, I found it unlikely that those would be points of failure as the case was uniformly very rigid.
Plain Galaxy S II silhouette
Elago Breathe case — still very slim
Galaxy S II rear
Elago Breathe case rear
As you can see in the image above, the case is very thin, probably around .4mm~ thick–it couldn’t be much thicker than the thin battery cover on the Galaxy S II itself. This in combination with the perforations make this minimalist case extremely lightweight, as you can hardly perceive a difference in weight with the case on the phone.
The Breathe case covers the entire back of the phone sans camera/flash and speaker grill while leaving the front, top and bottom open.
The sides of this case extend up and over the front display giving a the edge of the case a lip, allowing the user to place the phone face down without scratching the display glass.
The sides have generous space left open for the sleep/power button, volume rocker and lanyard hole while the open bottom allows the phone to be docked without removing the case–a consideration that can oft go overlooked.
Durability and Protection
For the most part I categorize smartphone cases/covers into 3 tiers of increasing protection:
- Tier 1: Scratch resistance–Vinyl skins and screen protectors
- Tier 2: Scratch proof–Polycarbonate clip-on cases and covers
- Tier 3: Impact resistance & scratch proof–Combination of polycarbonate shells and TPE shock absorbers, 1 or 2 piece.
The Elago Breathe qualifies as a Tier 2, scratch proof case that protects the entire back and sides of the phone (highest surface area after the screen) from damage due to abrasion. The polyurethane coating adds an additional layer of safety by adding much needed traction to the slick chassis of the Galaxy S II.
Although the case offers little in the way of shock absorption, most users who buy Tier 2 cases are confident in their ability to avoid dropping their phone and generally accept the risks associated with not having their phone fully entombed in a Tier 3 Case.
If you are looking for the thinnest, lightest, sleekest and chicest case for your Galaxy S II, definitely check out the Elago Breathe S4. It provides excellent surface protection on the back and sides, as well as a beveled front lip for display protection. All of this while still allowing fully open access to the top and bottom for headphones/docks.
The only inevitable downside to such a minimalist case is its inability to support impact resistance. This should really only affect those with severe butterfingers, as the polyurethane coating makes the phone much grippier.
Get your very own S4 Breathe case for just $10.99 at Elago’s web store.