Life On The Road Tests iPhone Cases

Do iPhone case manufacturers think we’re all a bunch of clods?

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

Do they think we spend our free time playing Horseshoes with our expensive smart phones – tossing them gleefully at any rock hard, sharp metal or concrete surface we can find? Are iPhone owners secret high tech militant ninjas who whip their app-laden devices at enemies in lieu of throwing stars?

Evidently, all of the above applies because rival case makers like Griffin and Ballistic are creating locked down castle keeps for your iPhones that would seemingly require a Marine attack or an operation of the Impossible Mission Force to infiltrate.

The only problem with my very smart guy introduction above is that I’m one of the guys that need such a case. In my job reviewing cars and motorcycles, I’m driving and riding on streets, mountain roads and race tracks – hopping in, on, off and out of vehicles that can on occasion go very fast.

My iPhone takes an unholy beating, so Griffin and Ballistic sent me a selection of armored cases for me to test. Of course, I can’t insert my phone into any of the tested cases and start lobbing it off three story buildings, but I could try out each and figure which are the easiest to use while offering adequate protection.

Griffin Survivor: Described by the manufacturer as “armored,” the Survivor is multilayered protection capped off with a detachable belt clip. Your iPhone clips inside a plastic base before a screen protector closes the device in a shell. That set up is then wrapped in a thick rubber shell.

That setup wraps up your iPhone tightly and securely, but it does take your slim, light smartphone into a foot wide rubber brick. But, you can’t have it both ways.

Griffin Explorer: The Explorer trims down from the Survivor and offers a flexible synthetic rubber jacket for shock absorption. On the other side that is a polycarbonate coating – all in one unit. You don’t get the impact protection of the Survivor, but it’s a much better case for, say, motorcycle riders who want their phone in a small pocket.

Ballistic HC for iPhone 4: The HC stands for “hard core” as this is the tough guy in the Ballistic case line.

The HC offers similar support as the Survivor without the girth for easier daily use. It includes five components: A screen protector, Ballistic shock absorbent polymer, tough impact resistant polycarbonate, an additional layer of our Ballistic shock absorbent polymer and optional outer layer of silicone. It feels secure enough, but if you want the meatiest muscle on your side, I’d go with the Survivor.

Obviously, every variant of case above will protect your expensive phone a lot better than some simple plastic slip-on case. The model you choose to purchase might come down to simple visual preference. Do you want your phone to look more militaristic or more high-tech, Dark Knight body armor-esque?

You decide. Then throw your cased iPhone like a football.


Photo Credit: ShutterStock / olly