Ballistic HC for the iPhone 4: Give Your Bumper Case an Inferiority Complex

It’s a sad fact: Not everyone is gentle with their gadgets. For some folks, being careful with their possessions is not part of their thought process; for others, it simply boils down to being “coordinationally challenged.” (Yes, I know it’s not a word…I just thought it sounded nicer than “clumsy”) Then, there’s a third group…a group that deserves a bit more credit than the rest: There are many people who’s job or lifestyle is simply not conducive to carrying delicate things with them–people that work hard and play hard. Thankfully, the folks at Ballistic have created a case for the iPhone 4 that has all three groups covered, figuratively and literally: The Ballistic HC. I do actually know some people that won’t buy an iPhone because they feel that they’re too hard on their phones. I try to explain that it’s a durable phone, but in the end, we are talking about an incredibly extensive collection of components sandwiched between two pieces of glass–tough glass, but glass just the same. Ballistic must have been listening to all of those people that felt the iPhone was too fragile for them, because they created a case that actually makes your iPhone feel indestructible.

Let me start by stating the obvious: This case is not going to win any beauty contests (even though I’m quite fond of the way it looks) and was not designed to be a fashion statement as so many other cases are; but isn’t that the point? When you incorporate 4 layers of protection (as the HC does), maintaining a slim profile is no longer a concern; what is a concern is making sure that every part of the phone is protected–from the screen right down to the 30 pin connector–and the Ballistic HC does this brilliantly. You start by placing the phone in a hard plastic and rubber shell that covers everything but the face of the phone; this shell has rubber inserts (including a very cool rubberized “Ballistic” logo on the bottom) that prevent the harder materials from scratching the glass on the back of the phone. Once the phone is safely inside the bottom part of the case, the front plate containing the hard plastic screen protector snaps into place; the case is engineered very well, as both pieces fit together nicely without any give or wiggle. If these were the only 2 parts of the case that Ballistic included, you’re iPhone would be very well protected; in fact, it’s perfectly fine to just use the inner shell as your everyday case–but Ballistic goes even further. The third layer of protection is a soft rubber shell that covers the hard case entirely, except for the screen; as tough as the inner case is, you get the feeling that the exterior rubber case absorbs any initial impact and keeps the interior shell intact–the soft rubber shell also makes the case more comfortable to hold. Last, but not least, is the hard plastic belt clip (which rotates a full 180 degrees) and faceplate cover. The entire case snaps into this holder, face first, giving your iPhone complete protection.

Does the phone add extra weight to an otherwise slim device? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I can honestly say that on more than one occasion I had the urge to drop my phone just to see what would happen…of course I never did, but the fact that I thought about it speaks volumes as to how protected you feel with this case. And it’s not just the rugged design that impressed me, but the attention to detail as well. Whether it was the carefully matched openings to allow sound to come out, or the rubber inserts designed to keep dust and moisture from getting in, this case was very well thought out. Though it’s one of the higher priced cases you will find at $49.99, I also feel it’s one of the better values. I’d rather pay $50 for a case that feels like a Sherman Tank than $35 for a designer name that offers little protection. I do have 2 minor complaints: I wish Ballistic included instructions in the packaging (I had to read a pdf on their website telling me to use a coin to pop open the interior shell) and that the hard plastic screen protector laid a bit more flush on the front glass–these were minor inconveniences at best and didn’t take away from experience with the case.

Though it’s not meant to be stylish, I have to say that the look, as well as the size of this case grew on me; I didn’t mind the extra weight and enjoyed the fact that I could actually grip my iPhone without worrying that it was going to slip out of my hands. Ballistic’s slogan for this case is “Designed To Survive Life” and I’d be hard pressed to find a sentiment that sums up this review any better.

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