Smartphones take quite a beating–just ask any 15-year-old who is determinedly texting while squinting his way past a shattered iPhone screen. For devices that are essentially an extension of the user, smartphones are still remarkably delicate on their own. And if you spend your day on a construction site, the risk of damaging your phone increases exponentially. What you need is a case that goes beyond the standard protection—cases that can take a beating so your phone doesn't have to.
The Tank is designed to meet or exceed U.S. military standards for durability and protection. Its exterior is constructed of rugged polycarbonate with a silicone-cushioned interior for absorbing shock and protecting the phone from vibration, rain, wind, dust, sand, and impact of all kinds. It comes equipped with a retractable screen and hip clasp.
The manufacturer demonstrates the strength of the Tank by running over a smartphone with a car. And they claim that the Tank is more than 2.5 times stronger and more impact-resistant than any other brand of product in its class. It is also relatively inexpensive with an average retail price of about $20.
Ballistic's Hard Core cases feature four protective layers. The optional outer layer protects against scuffs and scratches to the phone itself, while the screen protector and silicone shock layer protect against cracks or damage due to impact. These cases also feature a highly durable belt clip for easy access.
Hard Core cases are thicker than average, but with four layers of protection, the extra bulk is something that many users find reassuring. Average retail for the Ballistic Hardcore is about $22.
Made specifically for iPhones and iPads, the G-Form line of rugged cases takes protection to the next level. They feature patented Reactive Protection Technology that stiffens upon impact, absorbing 90 percent of the force. The outer polycarbonate shell protects well on its own, but all G-Form products also feature an inner insert for more shock-absorbing capability.
These cases can withstand drops from heights that no other case has been subjected to. The company once dropped its Extreme iPhone Cases from a balloon 100,000 feet above Earth to test their protective ability to the extreme. The cases managed to protect an iPhone and iPad in every way except the extreme cold of that altitude. Both devices booted up fine after a brief warmup and had no structural damage. G-Form cases retail for $30 to $75.
Another high-quality rugged case from the makers of the Tank, the Tough Xtreme is made for a variety of devices, including the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy Series, Nokia Lumia, and iPad mini device lines. It has a snap-on frame that supports the device on the sides and front, along with a multilayered outer casing constructed of durable DuoFlex and PolyCore. These cases are designed to provide ample cushioning and a firm but comfortable grip as well as comprehensive protection, even for the device's ports. The Tough Xtreme retails for $14.99 to $19.99.
Otterbox is a long-time trusted brand of rugged cellphone cases. It sells models in the Defender series for all brands and types of smartphones and tablets, and its cases also stand up to the “tire test,” protecting phones run over by cars.
These super-rugged cases have three components, including an outer casing made of durable polycarbonate and an inner silicone cushion, similar to the Case-Mate Tank. But Otterbox cases have the added benefit of a thick, ultra-durable belt clip, and they offer access to all the phone's functions without the need for a retractable screen. Otterbox Defender cases retail for anywhere from $25 to $65, depending on the device and case style.