Ballistic HC iPhone 4 Rugged Case – iPhone Armor

Phone cases can be practical or stylish and can even enhance your power supply. There’s a huge market for iPhone cases, in particular, but only a fraction of that is devoted to the cases that can protect your phone from just about anything. These rugged cases often get less attention because they’re not usually flashy, but they really only have one job to do. Protect your iPhone from the beating it may take. In my case, it’s a full time job. This week, I tried out the Ballistic HC iPhone 4 Case and when I say tested, I mean I scared myself. Watch the video below in this review to see what I mean.

Ballistic HC Rugged iPhone Case
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Ballistic HC Features

Like most rugged cases, this one isn’t exactly pretty. It’s not ugly, either, but definitely more tough than stylish. With five layers of protection, it looks more like futuristic plastic battle armor than an iPhone case. Softening it up, both in style and shock absorbing, it comes with an optional silicon outer layer. The optional outer layer adds protection, but really adds to the otherwise manageable bulk of this case. Day to day, I have been leaving this off while I’ve been trying out the case. The silicon layer is pretty unique to any iPhone case I’ve used in that it includes bits that fit snugly over and in the iPhone’s buttons and ports. I briefly considered the possibility of it keeping out moderate amounts of water (like rain), before deciding that “waterproof” might be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, I think rain would have a hard time getting through. Integrated into the case is a screen protector and a hard plastic holster with a 180 degree swivel clip. Even the speaker covering is mesh to allow sound out but let no particles in.

Of course, with all this rugged protection comes a trade-off. In addition to a little general bulk, the screen edges are a little harder to get to. At one point, I removed the case to continue a game of Scrabble. The effort required to remove the Ballistic HC case is its own blessing because it wont easily fall off, but can also prove a problem if you don’t have a coin handy, as this is the suggested way to pry it open. For the most part, the trade-offs are worth it, though, especially if your iPhone is subject to regular abuse and free-falls.

Testing The Ballistic HC

Speaking of abuse, what better way to test a rugged iPhone case than to put my cherished iPhone 4 in it and throw it around. I performed a couple drop tests from just a few feet and then again from about six feet up. After trying this on carpet, I took a deep breath and moved to the hard kitchen floor. The results, both from an outside view as well as video taken from the falling iPhone, can be seen in the video below.

While my test was hardly scientific, the fact that I cringed when I dropped my iPhone for the test and breathed a sigh of relief that it still works fine should say enough. My iPhone survived a six foot drop, twice, and didn’t even stop filming. There wasn’t a scratch on it and other than the video proof above, you’d never know I dropped it at all. I considered the tests passed with flying colors.


A ballistic case isn’t for everyone, but I give it two thumbs up for anyone who puts their iPhone through serious abuse or regular threat of nasty drops. The $49 price tag is worth every penny if it just saves you from one cracked screen.

Author: Joe Colburn

Joe Colburn is a software engineer specializing in PHP and a technology enthusiast. Always eager to dive into new and exciting things, Joe writes about anything technology related news and products that he thinks you will also be excited about. Find Joe Colburn on Google+ or by any of the links below.

8 thoughts on “Ballistic HC iPhone 4 Rugged Case – iPhone Armor”

  1. Great test, that said, it seems to me that this case is again Apple’s concept of impressive style… If I were to go for a case like this, I could have easily gone for a different device, an Android phone perhaps?

  2. I agree. It’s nice knowing your phone won’t get busted up but I like to carry mine in my front pocket and used to have a bulky case. Didn’t really work out. There’s def. a degree of protection you simply won’t get with a slimmer case although I do believe my phone is plenty protected with the slim pink case I just bought for it.

  3. Great review. Question, though–how does it hold up to drops, etc. with the “optional” outer silicone shell? They advertise “FOUR LAYERS OF PROTECTION!!!” but what about those of us who want a thinner profile for pocket carry once in a while–does this thing offer similar protection if you leave the outer case off?


  4. Pete: The drops I did were with the all the protection. I’m not sure how it would do without the softer outer layer. I was a little nervous dropping it from that height on a hard surface WITH the outer, and wasn’t daring enough to try it without. The company may be able to answer that, though.

  5. It looks completely at odds with the smooth lines of the iPhone which isn’t a bad thing – but it will certainly have a very limited and very male customer base. As I think was pointed out by one of the earlier commentors who preferred style over substance – but that’s the modern way!

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