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.


Reader comments

Draco Hydra aluminum bumpers for the Galaxy S4 and HTC One


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.

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.

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

Posted from the AC app

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


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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

Posted via Droid RAZR M on the Android Central App

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.

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

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

Posted via Android Central App

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.

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.

Most phones have camera lenses that, at least slightly, protrude from the back of the phone. This is because the camera sensors are thick, not that they intend to make the camera stick out, just the rest of the phone thin.

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.

What a good looking phone, love to have one. What happens if you loose the hex wrench? I have bumpers on my droid max and had to modify it. It would keep shutting my phone off.