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Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 05:34 am PT (08:34 am ET)

First look: Designed by m's aluminum 'AL13 v2' iPhone bumper touts zero signal loss

Kickstarter graduate Designed by m on Wednesday debuted a revamped version of its AL13 iPhone 5 and 5s bumper, which is being touted as the first aluminum enclosure design to exhibit zero cell signal loss.

AL13 v2


A little under one year after launching its first all-aluminum iPhone bumper, Designed by m is bootstrapping another project into existence with the AL13 v2, a follow-up design that addresses signal drop issues experienced with the original.

In our review, AppleInsider found the design and high-quality fit-and-finish of the first AL13 to complement the iPhone 5's sleek design. While we appreciated the bumper's aesthetics and ease-of-use, we did note a definite issue with radio signal transmission.

During testing, we recorded signal strength drops of around -20 dBm in certain coverage areas, which brought overall reception down to two or three bars (as represented by the then-current iOS 6 signal bar mapping). The findings were in line with Designed by m's own claims that a signal strength took a 5 to 10 percent hit due to the form-fitting aluminum construction.

The design of the second-gen AL13 is said to remedy signal loss altogether, while managing to retain the "barely there" form factor we enjoyed in the original.

Along with the radio transparency tweaks, the new AL13 v2 enclosure has been reworked and now includes a more secure locking mechanism. The anodized bumper will come in eight colors, including a special "Kickstarter Green" limited edition run.

As always, judgment will be reserved until we have spent sufficient time testing the unit's capabilities.

Designed by m's AL13 v2 Kickstarter is now live with a goal of $25,000. Early adopter versions are going for $39 with a free mPact Glass protective screen shield. Once the first 150 are sold, the price jumps to a second early bird price tier of $45 without the screen protector. Regular pricing is set at $55 or $79 with mPact.