Thanks to continued concerns over the durability of Apple’s glass-based devices, the last several months have seen an unexpected but noteworthy increase in the number of ruggedized iPhone and iPod cases, as well as growing visibility of such cases at mainstream retailers. The rugged case market, which has long been dominated by a single company—OtterBox—has recently seen an influx of new players, including Ballistic and Griffin Technology, which are now targeting OtterBox’s popular multi-layer Defender and Commuter series cases with new designs. Ballistic specifically went after OtterBox’s products with an aggressive marketing campaign, at one time claiming in its press materials that it was selling a model “better” than OtterBox’s flagship case Defender. By contrast, Griffin has taken an almost coy position for its family of new “Armored” series of cases for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. Asked about the similarities between the company’s just-released Survivor and OtterBox’s Defender, Griffin called the correlation between its new offerings and OtterBox’s lineup “not direct,” and has sought to present the positives of its product rather than making competitive comparisons.

Survivor touts military-grade testing in labeling that claims the hard plastic and rubber case “meets or exceeds US/UK military standards,” including shock/drop, wind/rain, sand/dust, and vibration tests that portray Survivor as everything but completely waterproof. Griffin’s packaging for Survivor reveals that the case is actually the first in a series of three—Explorer and Tracker are the others, as yet formally unannounced—which will see Griffin offering “more protection than any case we’ve ever made,” a considerably different angle relative to the ever-thinner plastic shells that have been flooding the market in recent years. Ballistic and other companies, such as Incipio, have similarly announced multiple models with varying levels of anti-shock and elemental protection, making it clear that more and bigger companies are attempting to compete in this segment of the market, which will clearly benefit consumers by increasing the variety of durable cases on the market.

Charles Starrett

Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.