Review: Seidio Active for iPad 2 + Active X for iPhone 4
Seidio has augmented its iOS accessory lineup with Active ($70) -- its first case for the iPad -- as well as Active X for iPhone 4 ($30). Active X is a scaled-down version of the company's Innocase Rugged Holster Combo that's comparable to OtterBox's Commuter Series Case, while the most direct comparison to the iPad 2 model is Otterbox's Defender Series Case. Both of Seidio's cases share the same basic structure with a multi-component construction; the iPad 2 version incorporates an extra piece. While the designs each struck us as more affordable alternatives to established competitors, they also fall just a little short of the performance we'd expect for a general level recomendation.
Active X is made up of two pieces: a soft silicone shell called Active Skin, followed by Active Skeleton, a hard plastic frame. The Skin wraps around the body of the iPhone 4 and creates a rather significant protective lip. There are corresponding grooves in the silicone into which Active Skeleton fits, providing some structure and extra protection. Once the full solution is in place, there are openings for the headphone port and noise-canceling microphone, side switch, speaker, microphone, Dock Connector port, and, strangely, separate holes for the rear camera and flash. The Sleep/Wake button and volume buttons are covered, but this actually ends up being one of the case’s biggest weaknesses. They’re almost flush with the rest of the case, somewhat harder to press, and particularly difficult to find without looking. Another downside is how easily Active Skin pulls away from the edges in the areas where it’s not held down by the plastic Skeleton. It doesn’t come completely off, but even small movement allows dust and other contaminants in.
The iPad 2 Active model is almost identical to Active X, though there are a few key differences. On the back, the Apple logo shows through a clear plastic window built into Active Skeleton. While we’re not big fans of this design choice, at least it isn’t fully open down to the metal. All of the ports have the same lack of coverage as on the iPhone 4. The buttons are easier to feel, although Seidio put their covers as well as the hole for the microphone more on the back of the case than the angled edge. They all still work, but it looks and feels strange. The same “pulling away from the edge” issues are present on this model, and long unsecured parts of the rubber case actually stay above the iPad 2’s rim.
Active also includes a third component called Convertible Mounting Cover, a plastic lid that fits on either the front or the back of the tablet for extra protection. When the iPad 2 is in use, the cover turns into a stand. There’s a felt-lined wedge with a metal foot that fits into 15 different angles for both portrait and landscape use. It’s a nice touch, but the accessory certainly adds significant bulk.
In comparison to Innocase’s Rugged Holster Combo—which we recommended with a B+ rating—the iPhone 4 Active X case is certainly not as protective and doesn’t include accessories such as a holster or screen protector film. Seidio’s price, however, is more reasonable, as is the relative level of bulk. Yet OtterBox’s Commuter Series Case offers full port coverage and film for only $5 more. The fact that the rubber so easily pulls away from the edges of the iPhone 4 screen will bother some more than others, but we found it to be annoying. All of this leads a limited recommendation and B- rating. On the other hand, Active for the iPad 2 is less expensive than Defender Series Case, and less bulky, but not as heavily protective. On this model the edge pulling is an even bigger issue, a factor that leads Active to earn a B- as well. While both cases will make fine options for some folks, particularly budget-conscious users who want something OtterBox like at a more reasonable price, we’d strongly advice that you understand the Active cases’ limitations before making a purchase.