I may have become to iPhone cases what Imelda Marcos was to shoes. Somehow — and it may be a function of this job — I seemed to have amassed quite a collection of them: silicon cases, rubber cases, cases with irked fowl on the back, cases that can open my beer bottles, cases that can survive a fall off a cliff. You name it, I probably have it.

It was with some hesitation, then, that I agreed to review Scosche’s new RAILkase ($59) — a combination of interchangeable silicone sleeves with a clever, easily removable “exoskeleton” (essentially a bumper with a latch), made of — and this is what caught my attention — AIRCRAFT ALUMINUM. I don’t know what distinguishes aircraft aluminum from regular aluminum, and frankly I don’t care; it’s got the word “aircraft” in it and that’s good enough for me.

Scosche RAILkase

The combination of silicon and aluminum on the RAILkase provides serious protection for your iPhone. The aluminum bumper wraps around the entire phone, ready to take the impact of a fall and transfer it to the silicone wrap to be absorbed. It’s not a new concept, but it’s well implemented here, and the use of aluminum rather the the more standard heavy-duty plastic inspires confidence that your phone is going to be just fine after that sudden introduction to your asphalt driveway — and that your case is going to survive as well.

The Inside Story

While that’s all well and good, there are lots of cases on the market that can make pretty much the same claim. What sets the RAILkase apart is design. The silicon sleeve slips easily on and off the phone, with a not-too-tight fit that still keeps it securely in place. The silicone is thicker than many other cases I’ve tried. That and the sleeve’s silky smoothness give it a high quality feel. Cutouts for the cameras, sensors and buttons are well placed and and the cutouts sport a beveled edge so they taper gracefully to the phone’s surface, maintaining a quality feel. The fact that I’ve devoted an entire paragraph to a silicon sleeve should give you an indication of just how well made this thing is. Oh, and did I mention Scosche includes two sleeves? One in black and one in white, to match — or contrast — the phone you own.

Did We Say ‘Aircraft Aluminum?’

But it’s the RAILkase’s aluminum bumper that really makes it stand out. The bumper (Scosche calls it an exoskeleton) is hinged with a quick-release latch that makes it drop-dead simple to put on or remove. That’s perfect for folks like me who use car cradles that won’t work with cases. I’m also a big fan of the RAILkase’s hourglass shape. It fits naturally in my hand and I actually prefer it to the iPhone 4/4s’ straight lines and sharp edges. Scosche says it uses high impact polycarbonate in conjunction with the aluminum to avoid interference with the iPhone’s antenna. In our testing, we saw no differencen in signal with the case on or off.

Attention To Detail

Another standout design feature is the RAILkase’s approach to using the iPhone’s mute switch. While most cases I’ve seen use a cutout or flap to allow access to the switch, the RAILkase exoskeleton includes its own switch that integrates seamlessly with the iPhone’s. I’ve never seen one like it and it gives the RAILkase a finished, polished feel.

While Scosche touts the RAILkase as being rugged protection, its styling and impeccable design help it avoid the brick-like connotation that usually brings. It’s a great choice for everyday use, and its shape and quality make it a pleasure to use.

Read this article on The Mac Observer for my Pros, Cons and Final Rating.