Review: CM4's Q Card wallet case adds lots of bulk to the iPhone 5
At a Glance
CM4 Q Card Case
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When I first started using CM4's $40 Q Card Case for the iPhone 5, its low profile design really stood out: It adds some wallet functionality to an otherwise basic soft-shell case, yet didn't initially seem to add much bulk. The case, which is available in a range of solid colors like black, brown, teal, and red, isn't too thick by itself, and adding just one card doesn't make it any thicker.
But using the wallet to its full potential creates a problem: You can jam up to three cards and some cash into the case if you're so inclined, which results in the case growing to be about twice as thick as the naked iPhone 5.
The case's soft yet rigid rubber shell makes it easier to slip in and out of your pocket than most rubberized cases, but it still isn't as easy as a bare iPhone 5. I became frustrated more than once when trying to pull my Q Card-equipped iPhone out of a tight pocket. The lock and volume buttons are covered by push-through overlays to minimize the amount of dirt that can get in, and are easy to press. There are also cutouts for the various ports on the iPhone, giving you easy access to the Ring/Silent switch, the Lightning port, and headphone jack. You might have a bit of trouble putting your iPhone in a dock-cradle accessory with the Q Card on, and although it's fairly easy to take off the case, it isn't something you would want to do every day. There's also a cutout for the iPhone's back camera, and there are no problems taking pictures with the flash either on or off.
When it comes to protecting your iPhone, the Q Card does an adequate job. The case forms a raised bezel around the iPhone's screen, so you can place your iPhone screen-down on a flat surface without having to worry about the glass getting scratched by said surface. That does, however, put the wallet side of your phone on display, so maybe think twice if the little pocket is bulging with cash.
Aside from the bezel, the screen is open, and the case does not come with a overlay protector, which was fine for me as I like tapping the bare screen. The rest of the iPhone should be fairly safe from everyday bumps and scratches, and maybe drops from shorter surfaces like coffee tables or desks. The case doesn't seem like it's designed to provide serious protection, and a hard drop might be more than the Q Card can handle.
One thing to note about the case is the pocket material, which can be stretched to hold up to three cards (like an ID or credit card) as well as (some) cash. When I first started using the Q Card, I found that the case's wallet pouch provided a pretty snug fit for just a single card. I actually needed to use the case's small wallet cutout to push the card out of the case.
However, if you want to carry more than just one card, you'll need to cram them in and wait for the case to stretch out a bit so you can get to them without too much effort. (Don't worry—as long as you don't jam in more than three cards you shouldn't stretch the material past its intended point.) After a day or two of carrying the quantity of cards you want, the wallet pocket will adjust to fit snuggly, but not so much so that the cards are hard to pull out. You can also go back to carrying just one or two cards with the wallet adjusting in the same manor over a few days.
Right off the bat, I decided to keep three cards in the case, and though I did go back to just one card I didn't like having to wait for the case to adjust. It's probably best to decide how many cards you want to carry beforehand and stick with that number.
In the end, how you use or like the case is going to depend on the number of items you carry in it. It can go from fairly low profile to making your iPhone twice as thick depending on how many cards you cram into it.