Review: Griffin Survivor for iPad Air
In a predictable but appreciated move, Griffin has released Survivor for iPad Air ($80). Like the versions before it, the super heavy-duty case combines layers of plastic and thick rubber for a high level of protection, all the way around. This includes full button and port protection, plus a screen protector, and a flip-out camera cover. It's a bulky case, but it should be able to stand up to almost any abuse. A plastic stand is included. Because the case is so close in design to recent editions, including Survivor for iPad mini, this review is based heavily on our coverage of a prior version.
Survivor for iPad Air takes after the most recent versions of the case for the second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPads. Unlike previous editions that had a rubber skin stretched over a snapped-together plastic shell, this one starts with a plastic iPad-holding tray that is then followed by the rubber, with another plastic frame snapping in place last over the front of the iPad and screen. When fully assembled, the exterior is mostly grippy rubber, but there are two large diamonds of plastic jutting through the back, plus the frame over the tablet’s bezel. Surprisingly, some of the rubber around the exposed plastic on the back doesn’t sit as flat as it’s supposed to. This shouldn’t affect the waterproof capabilities of the case, but we haven’t seen the issue before.
Griffin’s case offers a higher level of protection than any other iPad Air case we’ve seen thus far. Not only does it protect against drops and bumps, but it meets military standards for wind, rain, sand, and dust protection. Literally everything is covered to some degree: the screen is protected by a clear protector, as is the FaceTime camera, though both work as well as if they were uncovered. There are flip open covers for the headphone port, Lightning port, and side switch, plus one that rotates out of the way to reveal the iSight camera. Each is easy to lift and secure back in place. Additionally, all of the iPad mini’s buttons are covered but maintain full tactility, even through the squishy rubber. The microphones — including the new, secondary microphone on the back of the tablet — and speakers are covered with a material that allows audio in and out. Despite this high level of protection, the case does not make the iPad Air feel too large or heavy, though purists will obviously be willing to sacrifice all of the coverage for uninhibited iPad slenderness.
If you’re looking for the highest level of protection without sacrificing a practical level of size and weight, Survivor is the way to go in the early days of the iPad Air. The design may not have a totally broad appeal, but it’s not objectionable. It’s still expensive as cases go, however, and not everyone will need such a high level or protection. If you’re handing off the iPad Air to kids, or simply using the tablet in situations in which damage is likely, you’ll like it; Survivor for iPad Air merits our strong general recommendation.