Survivor Case for iPhone 4 May Not Survive Your Patience [Review] | Cult of Mac

Survivor Case for iPhone 4 May Not Survive Your Patience [Review]



The Griffin Survivor case for iPhone 4, which retails for $49.99 and works on all iPhone 4 models, is the latest rugged case leaping out of the gate running neck and neck for top dog with the likes of the Ballistic HC and many others. I was surprised to see another new case this late after the release of the iPhone 4 with the iPhone 5 just around the corner. However, it may be that the vendors know something we don’t. Perhaps the iPhone 5 will share the same dimensions as the iPhone 4 just like the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

Griffin labels the Survivor as “Armored Ready for Anything. ” I don’t think so and I’d like to explain why I say that.


The Survivor ships in some beautiful yet complicated packaging that enhances your expectations about what is inside the box. You won’t be disappointed right-a-way after opening that box. The case and belt clip look and feel impressive, but when you start using it with your iPhone 4 one feature on the case will make wish you weren’t using this case. Especially if you are an avid iPhone photographer.


The case has an impressive pedigree by meeting or exceeding US Mil-STD-810F and UK Def Stan 00-35 so if you are in the U.S. or U.K. military you might enjoy having the Survivor at your disposal. If you are rough and tumble or work in a field where you need something tough to protect your iPhone 4 you cannot go wrong with the Survivor. However, while the Survivor is good at protecting your iPhone 4 it is overly good.

The most annoying thing about this case was the overly protective nature of the case. The display took some effort to operate in some instances especially at the edges of the screen and the camera was rendered completely useless for me. The issue with the touch display wasn’t something that I haven’t encountered with other cases or screen covers, but the camera issue was a big one.

Camera Cover Tries A Photographer’s Patience

The Survivor has a heavy rubber cover that goes over the camera lens and flash on the back of the iPhone 4. The problem presents itself when you try to use the camera. The cover has to be physically held away from the camera or it will flip awkwardly back into the cameras field of view thus rendering the camera practically useless.

You can see the heavy camera and flash cover where the arrow is pointing.

Griffin needs to redesign this feature on the case because it is going to try the patience of many avid iPhone 4 photographers. I’m considering using a utility knife to cut it off the alternative is to use both hands which normally I would not have to do. If they can fix this issue the case would be perfect, but as it is now if you take a lot of pictures or videos like I do you’ll quickly wish you hadn’t wrapped your iPhone 4 inside of this case.

Screen Cover Typing Issues

The screen cover problem mentioned above was annoying, but at least it was better than most heavy-duty screen covers that I’ve encountered before. The only problem was that sometimes I pressed one key, but unexpectedly got another for example tapping the Space Bar often resulted in other letters appearing instead. Sometimes accessing the edge of the screen was  problem I had tap a little harder every so often to do what I wanted.

On The Plus Side

The problems stop there. If you don’t care about taking photos or videos then the Survivor is probably the best protective case for the iPhone 4 that you can buy. It definitely gives the other cases in this genre a run for their money.

Belt Holster

It offers a minimalist belt holster that can act as a stand for your iPhone 4. I like that feature, but what I really liked was the fact that the clip used a metal spring and rod to hold it all together. Other case manufacturers usually use a combination of metal and plastic in these clips. The latter don’t last very long — usually less than a year of use. A lot less. I think the one shipping with the Survivor has a better chance of lasting longer, but only time will tell.

Survivor holster and belt clip with Survivor inserted.

You could place the iPhone 4 facing into the holster or facing out. I like that feature that some manufacturers forget about. It’s funny that some vendors think the iPhone is protected enough to let if face out. In some cases for me that isn’t true. So I’m always glad to be able to protect the iPhone 4 by placing it facing inwards — once in a while I do some work in hazardous environments that makes that ideal for me.


The Griffin Survivor case offers great protection, but it might try the patience of avid iPhone 4 photographers since using the camera will involve the use of two hands. The armor protects the iPhone 4 in a variety of environments for regular use like sailing, hunting, or fishing and more professional environments like law enforcement or the military. It installs easily and  it can be easily removed. The openings are accessible to people with large fingers or those who are wearing gloves.  Larger cables can be used in these openings as well. Although typing was a bit awkward at times it wasn’t much different from other similar products. If Griffin can tweak this case a little bit it would end up being the perfect competitor to other cases in this genre. In the mean time this case might be “ready for anything” — except photography.

[xrr rating=3.0/5]