Review: Griffin Survivor, Survivor Clear + Survivor Slim for iPhone 5c
Griffin has introduced a new range of iPhone 5c cases under the Survivor name, all designed to offer atypical protection for the new model. The first is the classic Survivor ($50), a hearty, element-resistant plastic and rubber case, and is the one to go with for the highest level of protection. Survivor Clear ($30) is much more subtle: it has a sheet of clear plastic along the back, with black rubber around the edges, adding padding to the corners for extra shock absorbency. Then there's Survivor Slim ($40), providing more of a middle-ground option; it's a two-piece case, with a plastic center and rubber outer layer and while the ports aren't as well protected, it'll still help dramatically with drops and falls. Slim is also the only one of the bunch that comes with separate screen film.
The flagship Survivor is Griffin’s heaviest-duty case, and has been for a few years now. There are no significant changes compared to the iPhone 5/5s version, other than the subtle tweaks to the shape; therefore this review is heavily based on our earlier thoughts. The unit snaps apart into three primary pieces—a plastic tray, a rubber frame, and a plastic-bordered screen protector, plus the separate detachable belt clip. That last component is a thin column of plastic that snaps onto the top and bottom of the case with a clip that rotates a quarter turn in either direction. To encase the iPhone 5c, you first snap it into the plastic backing and then wrap the thick rubber around it. Ridges along the edge of the plastic grab the softer material and hold it in place. It takes about a minute to get everything assembled, but once you have, the screen protector can be snapped on. Notably, the screen protector isn’t prismatic, so you’ll be able to enjoy looking at your iPhone 5’s screen without any real distortion.
Survivor is the only case of the bunch that promises military grade protection from wind, rain, sand, dust, and vibrations in addition to shocks and falls. The exterior is all rubber, except for the front bezel and two small segments on the back, and the material has a slightly gritty texture, making it easier to hold. All four of the iPhone’s buttons are covered, and Griffin has done a great job ensuring their tactility; each of them clicks without any issue, and they all feel quite nice. Equally impressive are the port, camera, and switch covers: The headphone port, Lightning port, rear camera and flash, and side switch are individually protected by thick rubber when not in use, but made to be easy accessible when needed. Permanent protective membranes cover the speaker and earpiece, although the microphone is exposed through a small hole in the headphone port cover. Despite this tiny opening, audio during phone calls isn’t effected. Without a doubt, this is the single most protective case we’ve yet seen for the iPhone 5c.
The next case, Survivor Clear, could have just as easily been lumped into the Reveal family. Much like that case, it combines a clear plastic backplate with a rubber border. Here though, the frame is much more significant, especially at the four corners. They’re raised to offer extra drop protection, and there’s a neat, slightly textured pattern on the rubber running between them. Port exposure is similar to what’s found on Reveal, with three wide openings exposing the headphone port and microphone, Lightning port, and speaker, respectively. We found the button coverage to be better though, particularly because the Sleep/Wake button isn’t as squishy; both it and the volume buttons click with ease.
Survivor Slim really does fall in the middle between these two other cases. It’s significantly more padded than Survivor Clear, yet leaves a lot of the iPhone 5c unprotected in comparison to the standard Survivor. The structure is similar to that of the latter case; first install the phone into the plastic tray, and then wrap the rubber around it. This results in a case that’s clearly bigger than many, but not overly thick.
While it does offer protection for the three buttons along the iPhone’s edge and the Home button on its face, the tactility of the latter is dampened more than we prefer. Survivor Slim also leaves much more of the device exposed than Survivor, with a single, 2” wide hole along the bottom edge, rather than individual openings. That design means greater docking and accessory compatibility, but less protection. The rear camera, front camera, and vibrate switch are all exposed as well, although that’s much more common, and generally acceptable. Clearly, this one is aimed at those more concerned about drops than liquid damage.
Once again, Griffin’s Survivor proves to be a very, very good option if your major concern is overall protection. The bulk remains the biggest issue, but if you’re willing to deal with the size, it’s worth your consideration, and a strong general recommendation. Survivor Clear falls just a step below that, earning a B rating. It’s a good case, but we don’t see $10 in extra value compared to Reveal. The raised corners might help, but they’re not worth that much more. Lastly, Survivor Slim merits the same general recommendation. Griffin made a surprising choice to leave the bottom edge as exposed as it did, but in terms of drop protection, not much more is needed to cover the iPhone 5c.