Review: G-Form X-Protect for iPhone 4/4S
A few months after video-teasing the release of X-Protect ($40), G-Form's first iPhone 4/4S case is now available to users who need extra protection -- lots of extra protection. The key selling point here is the Poron XRD foam, the same material used in Extreme Sleeve for iPad and G-Form's other products. It automatically hardens upon impact, supposedly absorbing more than 90% of the shock that would otherwise be transmitted to the device inside. The case is available in black-on-black, the company's signature yellow-on-black, and five additional color options.
X-Protect is made of two separate pieces, although it’s intended to be used as one unit. The primary structure comes from a soft rubber frame that’s full of holes, each designed to combine with an inner layer of Poron XRD foam that fills those openings. Once assembled, the case protects the iPhone’s back and sides, while also providing a protective lip around the screen. Regrettably the fit is loose around the device, and the sides don’t sit flush like they should. They pull away with very little effort, and snap lazily back in place; the same is true of the fit between the foam and the rubber layers. Because of this, the case doesn’t feel as tight as it could, since the two parts don’t really click into place. Despite the noticeable added bulk, an encased iPhone can still slip in and out of the average jeans pocket pretty easily, although it won’t fit in docks.
Despite this looseness, X-Protect offers pretty significant coverage for the iPhone’s glass body. There are openings for the rear camera and flash, headphone port and noise-canceling mic, side switch, speaker, Dock Connector port, and microphone, but the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons are covered with rubber. We weren’t impressed with the fact that when you press any of those buttons the entire edge of the case lurches inward, but again, it does retake its place when released. The foam juts out from the back, sides, and corners. Without testing it to the same crazy degrees as G-Form does—hitting the iPhone with an ice hockey stick like a puck, for example—it’s clear that the Poron material is going to absorb more of a shock than simple plastic or rubber.
Using X-Protect is preparing for the worst case scenario, and requires the user to deal with a somewhat bulky case that doesn’t fit quite as tightly as it should. Many iPhone users are concerned about scenarios in which G-Form’s case could be handy, but the question is whether they’ll want to put up with the loose design the other 99.9% of the time. It’s usable if you’re willing to put up with the issues, and for people who are clumsy or super cautious, it makes a lot of sense; if you’re not concerned about serious abuse or accidental huge drops, many other cases will provide entirely adequate protection with a tighter fit. X-Protect is good enough to be worthy of a general recommendation, but G-Form could (and hopefully will) do better with a subsequent playthrough case design.
Updated June 14, 2012: G-Form will soon start shipping an updated version of X-Protect, pictured above. The structure is identical, but the TPU shell is stiffer than before.