Toughness for Roughness
When you’re out in the mountains or in the field, the risks to your precious pieces of high-tech wizardry multiply a thousand-fold. Prone to shattering its glass screen in classrooms, bars and on bathroom floors and what not, the average modern-day smartphone is not built to withstand extreme abuse. Luck would have it that legions of third-party developers and manufacturers have understood the need for tough, thick and protective cases for smartphones and other delicate technology. One such producer is Griffin, and they have established themselves on this market with the Survivor series. Its All Terrain variant is like a Kevlar vest for your phone.
Construction and Design
The Survivor All Terrain case is constructed out of plastic, silicone and foam, all built and molded to comply with military standards. It wraps around your phone in a three-step way. First, you slide your phone in a plastic hardshell. The first couple of times this might take a little bit of time and effort as you’re afraid to damage your phone’s pretty exterior. In the almost two years I have been using this case, that has never happened though. Second, you wrap the thick silicone bumper around the hardshell. This provides the largest part of the case’s protection. Thicker pads of silicone on the edges and sides make sure that the most impact-sensitive areas are well protected. Last up is the screen protector, which is a click-on piece of plastic the size of the phone itself. This makes sure your phone does not get wet or dirty. The materials used are tough enough so they don’t lose their protective capability, but they are also moldable enough so they easily wrap around your phone. The plastic used for the hardshell is bendable but not liable to break. The silicone used for the bumper is pliable and stretchable, but incredibly tough so it doesn’t tear when applying force. The screen protector is simple enough and not entirely scratch resistant, but then getting scratched so your phone isn’t is exactly its job. When you already have a screen protector on your phone, chances are the touchscreen might become a bit less responsive.
Most importantly, you’re not going to lose any of your phone’s features. All ports and buttons are available through foldaway pieces of silicone or push-through buttons. The hardshell contains two pieces of foam to maximise padding for the phone, and a flip-away camera port so you’re still able to take pictures (as most people do when they’re trekking or climbing in the mountains!). Point of annoyance: the camera protector is sometimes hard to open, especially with freshly clipped nails…
Being able to connect your headphones as well is a very important feature, as nothing beats listening to your favorite song watching a sunset in the outdoors. The port though, is rather narrow so some headphone jacks might not fit. My JBL headphones are not a problem though. While the case offers all-round protection and water-resistance, I wouldn’t take it swimming or take it to the shower. Rain is not a problem. Well, maybe a torrential rain would be. But your average European storm is not. iPhone 5s users, such as myself, might sometimes need to get used to entering their access code, as the home button is completely encased and only reachable through the silicone push-through button.
Due to the massive amount of protection this case offers, its size is, well… massive. You need big pockets to be able to store this big boy. Therefore, I only use it when I go into the field or the outdoors, as then I’m wearing outdoor- or camouflage trousers with roomy pockets anyway. For those wanting to own a phone case with just enough protection and being able to fit it in a jeans pocket, Griffin released the Survivor Skin. This is basically a silicone version of the innards of the All Terrain. I liked my All Terrain so much that I bought the Skin as well and I have been using it almost every day since. Together they are the only two cases I ever need for my phone. They even dictated my choice for the iPhone 5s instead of the 6 the last time I had to buy a new phone (aside from the 6 being way too large for my girlish hands…).
Too long, didn’t read? Here’s the short version!
Almost all features of the phone remain usable
Built to last
Pretty in its own way
Use your iPhone as a beach ball! (Kidding)
Touch ID unusable
Camera cover sometimes hard to remove
Some headphone plugs might not fit
Touchscreen slightly less responsive
Not entirely waterproof
While this is an awesome case, it really is only meant for extreme usage. This is not something you want to have around your phone all day, every day. Nevertheless, for those days you want to be able to throw your phone down a mountain without it breaking, this is a great case. I’m quite happy with it and use it when necessary.