When it comes to iPhone cases, there are more options when it comes to rugged protection. Let’s face it, who wants to drop $400 on an iPhone 4S only to have it shatter into a million pieces. One such case maker in this category is Ballistic. They offer a customizable protective case called the Ballistic Life Style.
The Ballistic Life Style is not a hard plastic case, but a gel skin. I found the case to be very rigid. While feeling solid, it retains some of the flexibility you’d find in a silicone case. Next to the display, the most vulnerable areas on the iPhone are the corners. Drop your iPhone and there is a 33% chance it lands on one of those corners. Ballistic has done something interesting in that they have bumper inserts for the four corners. The bumpers are interchangeable allowing you to select a different color and/or protection level. The Ballistic Life Style comes with 10 bumpers; 5 red and 5 black. Ballistic amps up protection of the corners, but keeps a relatively slim form factor in place throughout the iPhone.
There is no protection for the display itself. However, the edges of the case are not flat to the display. If you happen to leave your iPhone face down, the display will not be impacted. A screen protector such as the very excellent Steinheil EX would be a nice addition to extend the protection.
The case fits both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. I tested it with both Verizon and AT&T models. Despite the shift in the mute button, there were no issues with the fit due to the ample cutout. Overall, it hugs the iPhone 4 very tightly. There are cutouts for the headphone jack and 30-pin dock connector. The case is very thin at the dock connector, so it should work with most car chargers. The power and volume up/down buttons are encased in the gel skin hard plastic. I found no issues adjusting my volume, powering on/off or switching the ringer switch.
The material isn’t very grippy, nor is it what I would call slippery. It’s somewhere in between. The back has a rather lackluster design which reminds me of an HTC Droid backplate. The large Ballistic logo cannot be missed, despite my wishes otherwise. In the center of the back, there is a small piece of plastic that you can feel with your index finger each time you pick up the phone. The model tested was transparent blue, but it’s also available in a more subdued transparent smoke.
- Well constructed. Fits both original AT&T iPhone 4 and current iPhone 4S
- Heavy-duty protection without the bulk
- Included bumpers for greater protection
- Great price/value ratio
- Color selection is limited
- Not a fan of the logo, pattern on back
As someone who isn’t normally in the heavy duty protection category when it comes to iPhone cases, I was pleasantly surprised by the Ballistic Life Style. They have gotten plenty right with the design and I certainly appreciate the added protection without giving up the sleek form factor of my iPhone 4.
Ballistic Life Style for iPhone 4/4S is priced at $29.99 and it is available in either Transparent Blue (shown above) or Transparent Smoke. More information can be found at GoBallistic.com.