Draco Hydra aluminum bumpers.

It's time for a quick look at the Draco aluminum bumpers for two of the hottest Android phones available — the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. These are nicely crafted combinations of plastic and metal that wrap around your smartphone in the usual bumper style, leaving the screen and the back of the phone exposed. 

And they do so with a premium price. You need to know that up front. The Hydra bumper for the Galaxy S4 runs $99 direct, and the Draco One bumper is $79. These aren't cheap. But neither do they feel cheap. That's evident as soon as you pull them from their boxes.

That's where a little bit of frustration comes in, however. Despite having different names, the bumpers for the GS4 and HTC One are pretty similar in design, as well as how you install them. Both come already put together, and there are no real instructions for how to take them apart. You're left having to reverse engineer the instructions on the back of the box. That's maybe not a huge deal, but neither is it all that intuitive. A simple piece of paper that says "Locate the hex wrench in the bottom compartment of this box and use it to remove the hex screws" would have gotten the job done.

Or maybe all that's obvious and I'm just used to less-complicated accessories. But I'd err on the side of helping folks out.

Draco Hydra aluminum bumpers.

Anyhoo. You use the extremely small hex wrench to remove the extremely small screws that are pocketed into the corners of the bumpers. They could come out easily enough. From there, you work the two parts of the bumpers apart. Be careful not to lose any of the pads for the power button or volume rocker — our HTC One power button pad is clear and managed to go missing for the first couple days. Side the two parts back together, and tighten the screws again. (Be sure not to overtighten them.) And that's it. 

What you have now is a rather odd-feeling bumper. It looks classy enough. But it drastically changes the shape and feel of the phone, particularly on the HTC One. The sides bow in ever so slightly, almost giving the impression that you just HULK SQUEEZED your phone. The bumpers are pretty angular, which affects the feel of the Galaxy S4 more than the HTC One. One way or another, this all takes some getting used to, especially since we're making a couple of pretty big phones even bigger here. 

Draco Hydra aluminum bumpers.

Functionally speaking, things seem to work just fine. The buttons on the bumpers all work as you'd expect (again, so long as you don't manage to lose any in the installation process like I did, but I'm pretty sure that was operator error). Casual use didn't reveal interference from the aluminum. There's a little Ducati sticker that comes with the Hydra bumper for the Galaxy S4, but we have absolutely no intention of sticking it to our phone.

If you're willing to drop nearly $100 on a bumper that significantly chances the way your phone looks and feels, the Draco bumpers are stylish and nicely manufactured ways to do it. Just take care with the installation process, and you'll be good to go.

 
There are 47 comments

hoosiercub says:

What do these do to reception, have tried various metal cases/bumpers on other devices and it does affect signal considerably.

It does definitely effect the signal strength and that's good enough reason to not purchase one but it is a shame because they do look absolutely stunning.

TheDu9du says:

In the second picture, is that a happy HTC One? or is it a stylus coming out of it?

To me it looks like an antennae, it seems too slim to be a stylus. Although I doubt it would do much use as an antennae.

TheDu9du says:

Got it.. a hex wrench.. confused for a moment. I should've read article first.

Deke218 says:

I take it spell check wasn't working when you wrote the article.

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Deke218 says:

Well not spell check but correct word check.

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NexusKoolaid says:

Did that make you feel better?

Spellcheck is one word.

Aaron Watson says:

Hmmm. =.= Well played.

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allenbomb says:

wow, you're so cool..........

elvisgp says:

Give him a break, he spends all day giving us news about android. He's allowed to make a few mistakes.

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mcgowan398 says:

Omg its Phil!!!!

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tr-1 says:

Looks horrible... completely out of place. I'm sure the build quality is great for that price but it makes the phone look weird and very bulky

TenshiNo says:

+1

Plus, all the "inspired by... ...of Japan" lettering seems awfully pretentious to me. But then, I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing.

crxssi says:

You are not alone, I thought the same thing. Reminds of some stupid Apple thing to do.

OLD_HATCH says:

They definitely look nice and interesting, but not 100/80 dollar nice. 25 bucks tops. I think they just priced themselves out of the market.

NoNexus says:

Yeah pretty much this. I am guessing that it will offer up some more protection than a rubber bumper, but not all that much more.

benhmadison says:

What a rip!

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tr-1 says:

Actually less IMO. Rubber will absorb an impact. This will just transfer all the energy into the phone.

MikeSpanjar says:

Awesome! Of course, considering I own 5 cases for my S4, I'd better not (the wife, you know....).

BigPuddin says:

I think there are significantly cheaper ways to make your phone look like dog shit.

JoeyJoeJo says:

I kinda like them but the socket gaps suck, no thought there at all.

MarkSeven says:

Maybe they woulda looked better on a black device? Don't you guys ever get these devices in black?? Seems like every review you guys have a white phone.. Hmmm... Lol

mxmarcus says:

They look good in pictures. The minute you put that on your phone, you will realize how useless it is.
If you want real protection for your phone, this is not what you want.

HalizDad says:

And next, someone will sell a "skin" of some sort to prevent us from scratching the aluminum bumper...sheesh

jimrebello says:

^this. lol

DOOG9517 says:

Any idea if the GS4 bumper works with the wireless charging cover from Samsung?

StuartV says:

Not a single picture of either phone from the front, straight on??

And, do these bumpers provide any impact absorption? I.e. any built in cushioning at all? If not, then do they protect against anything except possibly a fall onto a sharp corner that would hit the edge of the phone?

tr-1 says:

Here's the front. It actually looks better from the front. The back should have been solid aluminum cover (kinda like Spigen Hybrid Neo)

http://www.dracodesigninc.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=HYDRA-BLACK

mssca says:

What is that stick coming out on the second picture?

NoNexus says:

the screwdriver

crohns says:

I think it would be really nice if they had straight lines!! The phones are big enough on there own.

I personally think it makes them too big.

SoreAintya says:

Extremely overpriced for what it is.
I bought a BoxWave aluminum bumper for my Note2 off Amazon for under $5. Looks good and is what is, a aluminum bumper, it does degrade signal reception a little, but nowhere near as bad as the MPERO aluminum/plastic/rubber case I use too. Inside I lose 1-3 bars, outside isn't as bad.
I'd like to find a rubber bumper like the N4 that doesn't have a plastic back.

wkm001 says:

They need to use a less expensive aluminum and charge half as much. For these prices I would rather put that money toward a new phone if I break my current one.

BBSeattle says:

Would have guessed that Phil has too much credit to bust his balls over spelling...guess I was wrong.
I had the Draco case on my S3; great looking but had intermittent Nav/GPS signal....radio/phone worked fine. Had to finally take it off, Nav was too important for me (For the spelling police, "Nav" means navigation).

A895 says:

If they made it cheaper and for more phones then I would consider it.

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alainlafond says:

Sorry to say this. But the fragile part of the phone is the SCREEN...
As long as there yon't be a robust screen, there's no need for me for anu "protectors".
Buy yourself a pretty or funny one. But don't believe that any case will protect your phone from the most common risk for phones: falls.

mhinc says:

I guess if you have more money than brains it's a good call. $100 bucks for a hunk of fitter aluminum. I think not. Cost to make is probably 2 bucks. I will stick to my otterbox. Reception is great, NFC works. Nuff said

bigrey81 says:

I am totally with yah

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hodan says:

I don't even...

aapold says:

A button covers the power button? What does that do to the IR remote range

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jimrebello says:

My brother has one of these for his iPhone. It's easily the most uncomfortable phone case I've ever seen. It feels like it's cutting into your hand at the bottom. Nice concept, but the edges are all jagged. Also, you're not exactly getting much shock absorption.

These things are definitely style over function, and the styling is pretty polarizing.

s2weden2000 says:

niCe!

MikeSpanjar says:

Great concept, but the one shortcoming of the S4's design is that the camera lens protrudes from the back. This $99 "solution" leaves the lens prone to scratching. Still, shame on Samsung for designing it that way.

alambertus says:

For what it's worth, they appear to be on sale now for $49.99 (plus shipping).......a slightly more reasonable price.

The link for the HTC One case gives a "not found" error (but you can navigate to it easily) and the link for the S4 just takes you to a blank page.