Technology and real life don’t always mix well, especially when you have kids. I’ve lost a number of screens over the years to wayward handling, and you can lay the blame for that at my feet as well as those of my offspring. When it comes to pricey handheld tech like phones or tablets, I like to get the best protection I can, mostly because I don’t know if I’ll be using it myself always or handing it off for a few moments to anyone from a teenager to a toddler.
Most of the time, I’ve settled on the Griffin Survivor or (often better) the Otterbox Defender cases, both of which do a decent job of standing up to rigorous abuse. A couple months ago, though, Ballistic sent me one of their Hard Core cases for my iPhone 5 to test out, and it won me over.
The Hard Case series comes in three different pieces, or four if you use the optional holster, which I didn’t bother with. The main case comes in two pieces: a hard-plastic back lined with some softer material and some edges to give the phone a bit of cushioning from sharp impacts (and which features a pop-out kickstand), and a snap-on front that includes a built-in screen protector. Then there’s a wraparound bit of softer “shock absorbent polymer” for added protection.
Whether you’re using the wraparound piece or not, the case features large crenellations that make it easy to keep a good grip on the phone, whether you’re fumbling with it with one hand or wearing gloves. With the wraparound, the Ballistic case becomes about at bulky as a regular heavy-duty case, which makes it less pocketable, but it comes on and off as easy as a slipper. Most of the time, I carry it around without the wraparound, but when I’m loaning the phone to a younger kid, I can slap the extra protective layer on in a matter of seconds.
I prefer cases with built-in screen protectors because applying the stick-on kind is a pain. However, bits of dirt can slip in between the built-in ones and the actual screen, which means you have to be able to take it apart to clean it from time to time, rather than leaving it all together constantly. The Otterbox cases are a challenge to disassemble with snapping off some vital clip, so much so that I often just rip the screen protector out altogether. The Ballistic case, however, features a slot on the lower right into which you can insert and twist a quarter to open it.
I only have two caveats about the case. The screen protector doesn’t look entirely transparent if you look at it through polarized sunglasses. (This probably cuts down on the glare when you’re not wearing such shades though.) Also, the cutout for the microphone port is too tight for my trusty AUX cable. These are small quibbles, though, with what’s become my go-to case for my kid-filled life.
The case comes in several different color combinations, from black/black to rose pink/purple. It retails for $60, but you can find it online for less than half that at Amazon.