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The Arc Pulse is a barely there case for your iPhone 13

When you think about it, the best Apple iPhone 13 cases have a number of different jobs. A case needs to look good, keep your iPhone 13 looking good, and keep it protected against the usual drops and spills. For most, that means a rubber or plastic (or both) case that surrounds your phone in a protective layer and keeps it safe. But is that the only design? Arc doesn’t think so.

I’ve been using the Arc Pulse Case on my iPhone 13 Pro for three weeks, and there’s a lot to talk about. One of the biggest of those is the fact that there’s not a lot to talk about. Confused? That’s why we wanted to bring it to your attention.

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Less is more

The guiding principle behind the Arc case is to provide you with 90% of the protection with roughly 10% of the case. The Arc comes in two metal pieces with a 100% recyclable, rubberized/grippy SEBS layer inside. The type of metal depends on which you buy: Titanium or aluminum.

The Arc Pulse case surrounds the camera bump to protect it as well.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

The top piece fits over the top corners of the phone and around the camera bump. The bottom piece fits across the back and bottom corners of the phone. The rubberized material on the inside gives the case some grip, so while you’d think these pieces would just fall right off, they don’t. In fact, they’re actually pretty hard to remove, which is a good thing.

The theory here is that if you drop your phone, the pieces will protect the corners, back, and front of the phone, including the camera module. For the most part, the theory is sound. You can set your phone down on its side, front or back, and no part of the phone touches the table. Meanwhile, you can still enjoy the design on the iPhone, such as how slim it is or the color, even if Apple didn’t bring back Pacific Blue. Someday, I hope to stop being bitter about that.

Getting back to the case, the front is raised up, so even the face of the phone won’t impact if you drop your phone face down. The only parts of the phone that are not protected (that would be with a bumper) are the side rails and the backplate of the phone. In a situation where you drop your phone on a set of stairs, I suppose you may miss the full protection of a bumper case, but that’s about it when it comes to drops.

What about the other 10%?

Scratching however is a different story. If you regularly carry two phones in the same pocket, or if you carry your keys in the same pocket as your phone, stop it. But also, this case won’t protect the back or side of your phone from those items. It’s possible, too, (though I did not test it myself) that this case might scratch other phone screens. So the lesson I learned here is that pockets with phones are meant to be pockets for only one phone.

If you’re wondering how the case is to hold or take out of your pocket, I can tell you it’s fine. As a matter of fact, the Arc Pulse gives you even more leverage to pull the phone out and hold it. No complaints there. Another added benefit is heat. Most TPU cases hold in heat the phone generates when it’s charging or being taxed, the Arc Pulse allows that to dissipate.

The Arc Pulse case comes in two pieces with a metal layer and rubberized layer.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

Speaking of charging, the Arc Pulse case also allows MagSafe charging to work with no problem. Some MagSafe compatible cases don’t have the magnetic strength that the phone has, so in the case of a car mount, the phone can pop off. Of course, there are some well-built cases — like the Brooklyn Snap case I use from Zagg — which are just as strong.

Not for me

After a few weeks with the Arc Pulse Case, I switched back to the Zagg case. The main reason was trust. I can tell you all day that the Arc Pulse will prevent damage in 90% of cases, and I even believe it, but my lizard brain doesn’t trust it. Plus, as someone who resells my phone every year to finance my next one, I want the phone to be as pristine as possible and that includes the side rails and backplate.

Overall, this is a nice case. And minimalists, it might work great. The design is certainly polarizing, though. It’s the kind of design that you’ll either love or hate, but either way, it’s a great conversation starter. It’s just not for me.

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