Review: Seidio Active + Surface Cases for iPhone 5
Seidio's first batch of cases for the iPhone 5 includes several different takes on the same two basic designs. Active and Surface both cost $30, but have alternate versions with integrated metal kickstands that ring up at $35, as well as packages that include Spring-Clip Holster belt clips for between $50 and $55. Neither design is totally unique: Active is based on the iPhone 4/4S case Active X, combining a soft rubber skin with a hard plastic frame. Surface, on the other hand, is a simple plastic slider. Both cases come in multiple colors.
Active is almost identical to Active X except for its taller body and a few other small tweaks. Both components of the two-piece case feel slightly cheaper than those we’ve seen from other companies, but not so much so that we’d completely disregard the case. The rubber layer is very soft and even when the plastic frame is in place over it, the exposed edges can pull away under very little force. They’re not going to completely come off, but after noting the issue with Active X, we hoped it had been remedied. One benefit of the material: it allows the covered Sleep/Wake and volume buttons to stay very clicky. The bottom edge is fully open for access to the ports and grilles, while the rubber and plastic combo come together to protect the iPhone’s display from drops. We do like the metal kickstand built into the premium version of the case, which angles the phone a little more than 45° above your table and desk; a magnet holds it in place when not in use. It’s worth the $5.
There’s much less to Surface. This plastic slider is about as basic as they come, although again, the material isn’t quite as nice as it could be. It splits apart about an inch and a half up from the bottom. Rather than sliding right off, you really have to apply some force, because a small clip on the inside holds the pieces together. This may be a bit annoying for some users, but given the choice between imperfect options, we’d rather have a slider that requires a bit of extra force to remote than one that simply doesn’t stay together. Both pieces are lined with a soft velvety fabric to protect the iPhone 5’s back. Seidio chose not to cover the buttons or ports here, and as was the case with Active, the $5 upgrade to the kickstand-equipped version again seems like a smart decision.
Surface is the least impressive case in this collection. The slider-style design feels very outdated at this point, given that so many legitimately great cases are available at comparable prices. This one offers nothing special and feels kind of cheap, earning a C+ rating. The Surface with Metal Kickstand deserves a slightly higher limited recommendation for packing in a smart stand while adding almost no bulk. Active earns the same B- rating as its predecessor, because Seidio didn’t make any real updates to the basic version of the case. The kickstand model is nicer, though, and warrants a general recommendation. Regarding the belt clips, we’d generally pass: a $30 premium doesn’t seem justified for what the company is offering in its combo packs, but you can choose them without fear of quality issues if they fit into your lifestyle.