Survivor iPod Touch Case: Rugged, Yes, But Kid Friendly? Not So Much.

Griffin Survivor iPod Touch Case, Image: Amazon

My kids saved their pennies for months to buy their own iPod Touches. They even made charts to keep track of their progress and see how close they were to heading down to the Apple store. It was a big day when they finally had enough money, and they happily came home with two bright shiny pieces of tech in their little hands. This was a nearly $200 purchase once you added in the case, so we admonished them to be very, very careful.

We warned that if they were careless and broke these, we were not going to turn around and just buy new ones. I have to say, I was pretty impressed because they did treat their iPod touches like precious cargo. Then one day my almost 10-year-old came to me nearly hysterical. Her elbows and knees were bleeding and tears were streaming down her cheeks. And clutched in her hand was an iPod touch with a completely smashed screen.

She was sitting on the front steps, enjoying a beautiful spring day in New Hampshire and when she stood up to come inside she tripped. There was nothing to actually trip over, but, in the way of all kids, she tripped over absolutely nothing and fell flat on her face. The reason she was so banged up was because she had desperately tried to protect her iPod touch at the cost of her knees and elbows. Unfortunately, she failed despite the valiant effort.

Through the tears and apologies and after much bargaining, we determined that we would replace it, but as an advance on her birthday later this year. My one condition was that the next case was going to be picked out by Mom and based solely on what I thought would actually protect it next time she took a tumble.

It was a bit distressing to walk into the Apple store and see that the case she’d originally picked was pretty much the only style available, just with an endless variety of colors and patterns. Some were hard shell and some were flexible, but none of them looked like they offered a heck of a lot of protection. Even as an adult I’ve stumbled over my own two feet and I wasn’t feeling like any of the cases on display would save an iPod touch if that happened. I looked down at the shiny new gadget in my hand and stood before the giant wall of cases without seeing a single thing that seemed better. Except for one.

Way down at the bottom of the rack, not at eye level with all the pretty cases but down where no one was going to notice them, there were a few cases in really large boxes. Every other box was super slim, but this case was in a rugged looking box that was easily twice the thickness of all the others. This turned out to be the Griffin Survivor military-duty case, complete with belt clip. This held promise.

My daughter gave it the stink-eye. I gave her the stink-eye and she took one off the peg and handed it to me. I opened it up and decided that this was the case I needed. My only concern was that it was just so big. My kids are, well, kids and this case was big in my hand, not to mention theirs. It was also not the cheapest case on the wall at $39.99 and I hesitated to buy a case that they wouldn’t be able to use. Was this going to work?

In the end I decided it was just too big and got them new hard cases that were barely more protective than what they’d started with the first time. They came up over the edge of the screen so it wouldn’t be scratched and were a bit firmer than the originals, but I had little hope they’d survive a good fall. Which is why I contacted Griffin minutes after I got home and asked them if they’d send me one of their Survivor cases for review.

The one that arrived in the mail was black and red, not all black like the one in the store, so the stink-eye it received this time wasn’t quite as severe. I discovered that the case offers several layers of protection. First, there’s a hard shell that the iPod touch snaps into fully and even includes a piece of clear plastic that covers the screen. This alone looked pretty durable, but then the entire thing slips into a flexible rubber shell. Yeah, now this was making me happy!

Once the iPod touch was safely ensconced I handed it back to my daughter and told her to go play. She curled up on the couch and happily started playing with it in the new and improved case. She liked it and thought it was kind of cool because it had a belt clip and it was red. Yeah, she’s all about the color, but it was important to her and I was glad she didn’t hate it. I left her to her gadget and went to make dinner.

A little while later she came into the kitchen and asked me if she could have her old case back. Clearly, the Survivor had lost its charm and I had no idea why. It turns out, this case may be too tough, at least for little hands. To press the on/off button she had to hold the base of the phone against her chest and then press as hard as she could manage. She had similar trouble with the volume buttons.

I decided to try it out for myself and although I didn’t find it that difficult, the buttons are tougher to press than without a case. As an adult I quickly got used to them so it wasn’t frustrating, but for little fingers I could see why it simply wouldn’t work. My only problem with the case was the floppy piece of rubber that covered the camera lens. It tended to fall open, but not stay open enough when you were using it to avoid getting into the shot.

End result? My kids are still using the slightly improved cases I bought when we replaced the one broken iPod touch. There’s a fine line between protecting your tech and making it unusable, and the line is not in the same place for kids as it is for adults. Although I like the Griffin Survivor iPod Touch Case and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for adults or teenagers, for younger kids, it’s just too tough.

Get the GeekDad Books!