Arc Pulse case review: The best case for those who prefer naked iPhones


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Barely covering the top and bottom of your iPhone, the Arc Pulse is as minimalist as they come while still offering protection.

Users who say they hate iPhone cases usually sling around their iPhones naked or with an ultra-thin case at a minimum. Arc Pulse is different, leaving most of the phone exposed. Simultaneously, it offers more protection around the corners than even a thin case would.

The Arc collection is available for all models of iPhone 12 and all models of iPhone 13. For our review, we’re testing it with the iPhone 13 Pro.

When shopping for your Arc Pulse, you can choose between matte black anodized aluminum, polished silver titanium, or polished gold titanium. Arc has done a great job on its site, allowing you to cycle through all the various color choices and various colors of the iPhone. That way, you can see how it will look on the iPhone you own before ordering.

Is it enough protection?

Arc Pulse

Arc Pulse

The Arc Pulse has a dual-layer design. There is a metal exterior that covers an impact-absorbing shock-resistant layer.

Installation amounts to nothing more than sliding each piece into place. It holds on without any micro-suction, adhesives, or added grip. The softer internal material on the inside has enough tension to prevent the Arc Pulse from ever sliding off.

Initially, we were concerned the pulse would slip off with use. After a few weeks of use, neither piece of the Arc Pulse ever came free. It held its position well, even pulling from our pockets or bag. Removing the Arc Pulse case requires a concerted effort with purposeful force.

Arc Pulse

Arc Pulse

While sporting the Arc Pulse, we used a screen protector simultaneously. The front of the Arc Pulse barely wraps around the front, leaving enough space for the screen protector of your choice. It seems any screen protector will work, but Arc appears to be working on a sapphire glass screen protector judging by the “coming soon” banner on its site.

The biggest question surrounding the Arc is whether or not it will adequately protect your phone, which depends on your definition of adequate protection.

As it only covers the corners of your phone, much of your iPhone is still unprotected. Yet, it still protects the most vulnerable parts of the device, including the camera bump.

When your phone falls, it will most likely hit on one of the corners of the phone. In those scenarios, the Arc Pulse will take the brunt of the impact. The case will protect your iPhone in case of a side-impact too.

Where the Arc Pulse falls short is when your phone falls on a non-even surface. If you drop your phone on a gravel driveway or it hits multiple surfaces on the way down, the Arc Pulse on its own may not be enough to sustain your phone’s pristine condition.

Arc Pulse

Arc Pulse on the couch

A screen protector is most certainly a must for some added reassurance. This will strike a better balance between protection and sleek design.

We see how most case manufacturers put the most reinforcement into the corners of their cases, and Arc has done the same thing, but removing the sides and back at the same time.

Should you buy the Arc Pulse?

Arc Pulse will certainly not be for everyone, which is ok. The case market is verbose with designs, colors, sizes, and unique features to satiate almost any need.

Users drawn to the Arc Pulse case want something different than what the case market typically offers. They want premium materials, but it still needs to provide a degree of protection to their phones. All of that while also touting the iPhone’s signature aesthetic.

What gives us pause on the Arc Pulse isn’t entirely the device’s fault. Once more than massive camera bump on the iPhone 13 Pro causes issues. Because the camera bump is so large, the petite metal ring that Arc Pulse surrounds it with blocks certain MagSafe accessories from working.

Arc Pulse

Arc Pulse with MagSafe

This isn’t a problem isolated to the Arc Pulse as some of Apple’s accessories don’t work perfectly either. The iPhone 13 Pro doesn’t lay flat on the MagSafe Duo as just one example.

If you have the iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13, or iPhone 13 mini, these likely won’t be problematic at all, but for the plain “pro,” it’s a cause of frustration. Be aware of what MagSafe accessories you use before deciding to pick up the Arc Pulse.

For reference, most MagSafe accessories worked fine — it was just the larger ones like battery packs that posed an issue. That includes Apple’s own MagSafe battery pack.

Arc Pulse box

Arc Pulse box

Outside of the niche MagSafe issues, we’re fans of the Arc Pulse. It arrives in one of the coolest packages around, where pulling on a ribbon makes the top and bottom slide out, revealing the two pieces of the case.

We haven’t seen a case quite like this before and are delighted by its svelte appearance. Just don’t give up your AppleCare if you’re tough on your phone.

Arc Pulse

Arc Pulse top

  • Great look
  • Titanium option is very lightweight
  • As minimal as it comes
  • Easily removable
  • Doesn’t preclude MagSafe or wireless charging
  • Good protection for corners
  • Quite expensive, especially titanium
  • Won’t protect your phone in every fall
  • iPhone 13 Pro’s camera bump still causes issues with larger MagSafe accessories

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

If you’d like to pick up the Arc Pulse for your iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, you can find it starting at just over $100 on Amazon.

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