Company: Griffin Technology
Compatible: iPhone 4/4S
Griffin Protector for iPhone 4/4S
Griffin's Protector for iPhone 4/4S ($20) clearly comes from the same "Armored" case family as the earlier Survivor. Unlike that dual-layer design -- the same kind we've been seeing in many heavy duty cases recently -- the company chose a much simpler setup with this one. Protector is a single piece of silicone rubber that wraps around the device and is available in blue, pink, yellow, or black. Even though we've tested hundreds of rubber cases for earlier Apple devices, Protector definitely goes beyond what we'd expected from this simple, common material.
Protector is certainly one of the most protective pure silicone cases we’ve seen. Rather than simply wrapping around the back and sides of the iPhone, it extends to cover the entire bezel around the screen. In fact, the only portion of the device’s front that is exposed is a small segment for the sensor, camera, and earpiece towards the top. This means that even the Home button is covered, as are the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons. Of course there are openings for the side switch, the noise-canceling microphone on the top of the device, the camera and flash on the back, and one long hole along the bottom. Though it’s on the wide side, Protector fits just fine in Universal Dock accessories. The only thing that’s obviously missing here is screen protection.
Griffin calls the silicone extra-thick, and while the walls are certainly thicker than those on most silicone cases, the overall size is comparable to many plastic designs. It certainly doesn’t feel unwieldy, and the texture is nice too. Unlike many rubber cases which are difficult to slip in and out of a pocket, this one isn’t: it’s smooth, but the material doesn’t stick to things. Recesses along the sides are micro-textured to provide a greater grip. The only problem was a pretty minor one: the top edge of the silicone above the screen didn’t sit quite flat. It likely stretched out from the insertion and removal of the iPhone, but overall performance isn’t affected.
We were surprised by how much we liked Protector. The case was designed and manufactured very well, with a simplicity that we greatly appreciate—it’s as if someone designed a more complex multi-layer case, then blended the layers together into a one-piece design that’s easier to install and remove. It feels good, looks nice, and provides a respectable level of protection; thanks to its simplicity, even the price is quite fair. Yes, combining the rubber with plastic—such as what Speck did with our Case of the Year winning CandyShell Flip—would have made this a better case, but for the lower price, this is still a great option, and one that we highly recommend.