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Arc Pulse case and Sapphire screen protector for Apple iPhone 13 review: Stunning design, premium price

Arc offers a minimalist case that attempts to preserve the use of your iPhone as Apple designed it, while its Sapphire screen protector is harder and thinner than the competition.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

While it is debatable which smartphone is the best, it's clear that the Apple iPhone has more case options than any other model of smartphone. With such dominance in cases, it can be difficult to find one that offers unique features to fit your exact needs.

Various surveys show that 85% to 90% of iPhone owners use a case. Even though I bought Apple Care Plus and can use my iPhone without a case in confidence, I am also one of that majority. 

The designers at Arc have developed a unique case that protects key areas of your iPhone while also optimizing your iPhone experience the way Apple intended.


Arc Pulse

4.5 / 5
Very good

pros and cons

  • Stunning design
  • High-quality titanium material
  • Easy installation and secure fit
  • Joy to carry a mostly naked iPhone
  • No impact to reception or heat
  • Very expensive
  • Little protection on uneven surface

After a couple of weeks of using the Arc Pulse on my Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, I can definitely see the appeal of carrying your iPhone in a mostly naked condition. I'm loving the look and feel of my iPhone. The case is very expensive -- $218 for the Titanium Silver and Gold models -- but it is stunning and unique. It will never break and offers many benefits, including being 100% recyclable.

Arc Pulse case

Arc has Arc Pulse cases available for all four models of the iPhone 13 and the three larger models of the iPhone 12 series. The aluminum matte black case is priced at $109, while the two titanium options are priced at $218. You can select the color of your iPhone on Arc's website in order to view the Arc Pulse on your iPhone and select the model that works best for you.

I have a Graphite color iPhone 13 Pro Max and was sent a Titanium Silver Arc Pulse to test out. As you can see in my image gallery, this combination looks fantastic. Extremely professional and classy, it looks great in the office and out on the town.

The case comes in a long box. When you pull down on the fabric tab, both ends of the case slide out with the Arc Pulse pieces embedded in black foam. The case is comprised of two separate and distinct pieces. Shock-absorbing elastomer material lines the inside of the titanium outer material. Installation graphics are shown on the box, and you simply slide on one side and then rotate to push the other side into position.

Each piece is secured through friction and perfectly fit. It is actually a bit tough to remove each piece and clearly requires a purposeful effort to make it happen. I dropped my iPhone a few times on the carpet to test it, and every time a corner hits first with no movement of the case.

Arc Pulse case and screen protector for iPhone 13 Pro Max: in pics

The Arc Pulse is designed to fully protect all four corners and the rear camera array. If you drop your iPhone flat on the front or back on a flat surface, then the Arc Pulse should also protect it in this situation. Your iPhone could scratch or break if you drop it on an uneven surface, like gravel, since there is no protection for the majority of the front and back between the ends.

Other than the incredible good looks and minimalist coverage of your iPhone, the Arc Pulse case is very light (22.5 grams for the one I tested, and that is the heaviest of all models), offers the same heat dissipation as a naked iPhone, does not cover any of the antennas to maintain perfect cellular reception (you can see antenna lines with the Arc Pulse perfectly designed to fit beyond any of these areas), and is 100% recyclable.

I was worried that the case would impact my ability to use some of my standard wireless chargers, but even with the top piece around the camera array, my iPhone still charges on wireless charging pads like the Volonic Valet 3. MagSafe accessories that I have tested all work with the case in position as well, and Apple Pay obviously works with the back of the iPhone mostly exposed to sensors. There may be some MagSafe accessories, however, that bump into the Arc Pulse around the camera array.

The cost of the case is a tough pill to swallow, but if you are someone who enjoys carrying a naked iPhone -- or someone who would like to but is scared of dropping your iPhone -- then this case may be for you. 

When I've shown it to people, they are impressed by its design and functionality -- but not its price. Then again, we've seen celebrities and others spend a lot of money on accessories and cases, so the Arc Pulse may appeal to that audience, too.

Also: iPhone 13 Pro review: A trifecta of meaningful upgrades

Arc Sapphire screen protector

To help protect the display on your iPhone, Arc also has the Arc Sapphire screen protector. It is the most expensive screen protector I have ever tested at a price of $76. The majority of the screen protectors I have tried before are tempered glass protectors with cheap ones on Amazon priced at $10 and higher-quality ones priced at $40 to $50.

The Arc Sapphire is 99.99% pure sapphire with a MOHS hardness of 9. You may see 9H used with tempered glass, but this type of glass has a MOHS rating of 6-7. Arc states that the screen protector is five times harder than regular tempered glass screen protectors.

In addition to being harder, it is also 50% thinner. You clearly will not experience any degradation in the performance of the touch display. It is second in scratch resistance only to diamond, so the protector should serve you well for the life of your iPhone.

The installation kit contains an alcohol wipe, a dust removal sticker, a microfiber cloth, and an installation guide. Installation is the same as most other protectors, and I was able to install it without any bubbles or flaws. A thin black border is contained on the edges of the protector, but the entire viewable display is unobstructed.

The Arc Pulse fits onto an iPhone with the Arc Sapphire in place without impacting the protector in any area. It's clearly an expensive screen protector, but with the hardness, thickness, and performance, it may be the best available.

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