Review: Griffin Survivor

by on May 4, 2011

Years ago, I was a huge fan of the TV show 24, and although the mobile phones of choice were often Sprint/Nextel models (thanks, product placement), I often wondered if the show had continued, what technologies we’d see. Long story short, if Jack Bauer had an iPhone, the Survivor, a $50 ruggedized case from Griffin would be his case of choice.

Survivor Survivor Survivor
Survivor Survivor Survivor Survivor

Available in a few color choices (black, olive, white/black, and pink/black), there is a Survivor to fit many users’ tastes. Beyond that, the case is clearly aimed at the longstanding leader in this segment, OtterBox. Modeled after the same let’s-wrap-the-phone-in-as-much-rubber-and-plastic-as-possible-and-prevent-damage model that has worked for OtterBox, Griffin takes a different approach. The case wraps around the iPhone with a shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame. This frame includes a few areas that protrude to further reinforce the case. Additionally, it includes a built-in, non-removable screen protector that seems to give the iPhone more of a ’90s Palm Pilot touchscreen feel.

Once the plastic shell is in place, the Survivor’s silicone shell completes the protection. This portion of the case effective doubles the thickness of the iPhone, but will absorb a number of shocks and drops. Flip-out plugs cover most ports to prevent the elements from getting into your iPhone. It’s worth noting that these do not seal your iPhone, especially since the bottom has a number of holes for the speaker and microphone. Lastly, a detachable heavy-duty clip secures to the case and even locks in place to act as a display stand. It also can be turned to use horizontally or vertically.

A case can look like a 4×4, but does the Survivor act like one? In our limited tests, yes. It seems rather solid and will hold up to Griffin’s rugged claims. We weren’t going to chance destroying our iPhone 4 for the sake of technology journalism, but the Survivor did give us the sense that our iPhone 4 could take more of a beating. Furthermore, Griffin has posted a number of tests on their Web site and even encourage creative folks to come up with their own ways to attempt to destroy an iDevice. They also like to throw in the various standards the case is meant to exceed:

Tested and certified to meet or exceed US Department of Defense Standard 810F and UK Department of Defense Standard 00-35, Griffin’s Survivor Extreme-Duty Case is designed from the inside out to protect your iPhone from extreme conditions … dirt, sand, rain, shock, vibration and a host of other environmental factors.

If the Survivor is so durable, why doesn’t everyone get one? The simple answer is that it absolutely destroys the iPhone’s convenience and simplicity in the name of protection. The case’s rubber plugs do a great job of protecting various buttons, switches, ports, and the camera, but are sometimes difficult to open and, in the case of the camera, create a bit of awkwardness—you have to hold the flap so it doesn’t interfere with the picture. Additionally, the Survivor makes the iPhone much less pocketable, due to its thickness and grippy nature of the silicone.

Overall, the Survivor is a great product for a particular user—those who want to be able to take their iPhones to places the iPhone wasn’t suited for and bring it back with a very good chance of being unharmed.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

The Griffin Survivor protects the iPhone very well with only a few downsides that can’t really be avoided.

Pros: Protects iPhone, well-designed, handy belt clip

Cons: Bulky, rubber plugs sometimes hard to remove

The Facts

4/5Product: Survivor
Company: Griffin Technology
Platform: iPhone 4 (all)
Price: $49.99

This post has been filed in Cases, iDevices and Reviews