Arsenal for iPhone 5/5s ($50) is the first iPhone case Zagg has ever released under its own name; the company also owns the iFrogz brand, which has been active for years. Designed to compete with OtterBox’s Defender and Griffin’s Survivor among others, it’s a heavy-duty protector. The outside is all hard plastic, with an inner lining of rubber adding shock protection, resulting in a case that feels quite solid all the way around. While it’s not going to protect against the handset being dropped in water, button protection and port coverage will help prevent a good amount of damage. A sheet of InvisibleShield screen film is included, which is said to be four times stronger than glass.
The case splits apart into front and back halves, with the rubber lining fitting into the rear piece. Although it easily lifts away, there’s no need to separate the rubber for installation; the iPhone fits into the dual-layer setup, with a snug, secure fit. Then the front frame snaps into place, creating a rather deep lip that will help protect the screen, whether or not you use the film. Arsenal is designed to stay together as a unit unless you are determined to get it off. We found twisting a coin in one of the small divots at the top left and right corners to be the best way to remove it.
Rubber sticks out in four segments along the iPhone’s sides, and over the volume buttons. It also protects the Sleep/Wake button, and forms flaps along the bottom covering the headphone and Lightning ports, respectively. One of our favorite aspects of this case is how well those buttons click. Zagg absolutely got the tactility factor right here, which is something we always appreciate. As for the port protectors, they’re good for keeping out dust and splashes of water, but they don’t form a waterproof seal. Thankfully they’re rather easy to lift up for access to the ports, both of which are wide enough to accept just about any plugs.
The included InvisibleShield film is a nicer material than most of the cheap film often thrown in with cases, and since it’s a separate component, you can choose to use it or not. Although it’s compared against glass, it actually feels more like a semi-flexible piece of hard rubber. The film is crystal clear though, and doesn’t have any effect on touch sensitivity. Our only real issue with it is the size and shape. Instead of extending all the way to the display’s edges, it stops short on all four sides. Not only is the Home button left exposed — that’s to be expected — but there’s one large opening at the top for the sensors, camera, and earpiece.
Arsenal isn’t quite as protective as Survivor, but matches up pretty well with Defender. The case feels great, and offers a level of protection that will be suitable for most people in most environments. Some will certainly prefer the plastic exterior, instead of OtterBox’s rubber. The two are otherwise very much on par though, and that’s why Arsenal earns the same high recommendation. We wish the film was cut just a little bit differently, but it’s otherwise a great option for those who demand a high level of protection.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 5/5s