We love Thule cases but the X5 falls short of our high expectations
Thule Atmos X5 Review – Big and tough. It’s a tank for your iPhone.
Today we’re going to do a review of the Thule Atmos X5. This is Thule’s toughest iPhone case to date and despite our love for Thule, the X5 doesn’t live up to our high expectations.
This waterproof iPhone case feels very solid and is drop rated and waterproof to 6.6ft and 2m, but we think it’s much tougher than that. The StratoShield screen protector is tougher than any glass screen protector, but there are a couple of issues with it. Accessibility of your iPhone takes a hit as the buttons are a little tougher to use, and the camera flash is useless in the case.
For our Thule Atmos X5 Review, we’ve given this iPhone 6 case a score of 3.7 Eh’s out of 5. It does worse than LifeProof’s Fre and Nuud, the Catalyst Waterproof and a smidge better than the Seidio Obex. If you’re looking to compare the Thule against other cases, check out our comparison tool!
| Compare With other |
|Thule Atmos X5|
(out of 5)
$79.95 USD iPhone 6 (s+)
|Top Buy Buttons|
- Actually feels rugged
- Very "grippy"
- Sound isn't great
- Buttons are tough to use
- Minor issues with the screen protector
- Camera flash become useless in the Atmos X5
|Potential Problems||Potential Problems:|
(Thule Atmos X5)
|Install||Ease of Installation (4/5):|
- Hard to install
- Tough to take apart
- No need for external tools
- Only need to snap two pieces together
|Build Quality||Build Quality (5/5):|
- Feels VERY solid
(Thule Atmos X5)
|Shock Protection||Shock Protection (3/5):|
- Average drop protection at 6.6ft/2m
|Water/Dust Protection||Water/Dust Protection (3/5):|
- Average water protection at 6.6ft/2m
|Screen Protection||Screen Protection (5/5):|
- StratoShield is one of the toughest screen protectors we've seen
(Thule Atmos X5)
|iPhone Functionality||iPhone Functionality (3/5):|
- Able to use larger 3rd party cables
- Button access isn't great
- Poor sound
- Touch ID works
- Camera flash is unusable in the case
|Screen Usability||Screen Usability (3/5):|
- Slight gap in the screen protector
- Slight sensitivity loss
- High edges get in the way of the device
|Screen Viewability||Screen View-ability (5/5):|
- Slight wobble on the screen protector
- Glare is increased slightly
- Slight diffusion (barely noticeable)
|Bottom Buy Buttons|
Design – Feels like a brick. A really tough brick.
Regarding design, this is a beast of a case. In fact, this is the biggest waterproof case that we’ve reviewed. In fact, it’s bigger than the LifeProof Fre Power which comes with a spare battery. Installation is fairly straightforward as you insert your iPhone into the base and snap all the pieces together. The side snaps are not as “easy” as Thule leads you to believe and are tough to unlatch during removal. Trying to take the iPhone out of the case is painful but we’ve discovered that “burping” the iPhone out is the easiest way to remove your iPhone from the case.
We do have to say that the Thule Atmos X5 fits together incredibly well. It feels solid and despite being bulky, feels incredibly tough especially when compared to the flimsy feeling LifeProof cases. Everything fits well together, and the case stays together despite getting beat up a bit. We’ve always been a fan of the rubber edges on Thule’s cases, and can safely say that the X5 is just as grippy as the X3’s and X4’s.
Protection – Tougher than the average waterproof case
For protection, the Thule Atmos X5 is drop rated to 6.6ft/2m and waterproof up to 6.6ft/2m. These heights/depths are the standard IP68 protection rating but given the size and our case-reviewing intuition, we feel very comfortable throwing this up past the 6.6 ft drop rating. As you can see, the iPhone after all the drops and tosses is fine.
When it comes to water protection, this case is waterproof. We did a sink test that resulted in no water seeping into the case and a variety of water tests with an actual iPhone. We do feel comfortable taking this case into deeper water, but we don’t live anywhere near a body water that Aaron can safely submerge stuff up to 6.6 ft safely.
For screen protection, the Thule Atmos X5 comes with Thule’s own Stratoshield, which according to them, can withstand a 200g ball from 5ft. We did our test on another Stratoshield on the X4 and we have to say that the StratoShield is pretty damn tough.
Functionality – How’s your finger strength?
The functionality of the iPhone in the waterproof case is where the Thule Atmos X5 falls flat on its face. Now we are making the X5 sound like the worse case of all for functionality but the reality is that its average for a waterproof case. We just had very high hopes for the X5 case because of my experience with the X3’s and X4’s.
Getting to the buttons on the iPhone is tougher than other cases despite having FuntionPlus buttons that are “easy”. The area around the camera and flash aren’t separated which means that flash spills into the camera lens resulting in brutal flash photography.
The sound is muted coming from the iPhone in the Thule Atmos X5 but isn’t as bad as the Lunatik Taktik 360. We didn’t notice any change in signal strength and the TouchID membrane worked well.
For screen functionality, there is a slight gap between the iPhone and screen protector. We were hoping that the screen protector would have an adhesive like the X4 for gap reduction does but it doesn’t. The gap doesn’t get in the way of using an iPhone’s screen, but we do have to say that the edges of the screen protector get in the way. This is less of an issue on the 6 Plus but is very noticeable on the 6-sized iPhone.
Screen viewability isn’t great either because of the gap as reflections are wobbly, and glare becomes an issue. There is a tiny bit of diffusion on the screen protector, but you have to look hard to see it. Fingerprinting isn’t terrible with the smudge resistant layer on the screen protector and since it is waterproof you can wash it off!