In my house, we joke that every case I review needs to meet the “destructo-dog and tiny terror” tests. Most cases are no match for a 100 pound labrador and a 10 month old boy, but my wife Sarah hasn’t worried once about her iPad since we started testing the new Griffin Survivor for iPad Air!
The Survivor case offers several layers of protection against tiny bitey humans, wagging tails, and yes, clumsy adults. In fact, Griffin says the Survivor is dirt, sand, vibration and shock proof, so it can handle just about anything you might throw at your precious iPad. The iPad sits in a case layered in hard plastic and thick silicone, which gives an immense amount of corner, side, and front protection. While we haven’t performed any controlled drop tests, the corners are so well protected I’d wager the iPad would bounce back with no issue from a moderate drop. Every port and point of weakness is covered — even the camera has a flap over it!
There’s also an integrated screen protector, and while normally Sarah complains these drive her nuts, she had no objections to the one in the Survivor case. It cleans off easily, and she can always remove it to really give it a good cleaning when it gets grimy. Having the integrated protector also means that she can use her iPad as a recipe reference in the kitchen and not worry about food splashing onto the screen. The Survivor also has a clip-on easel that lets you prop the iPad up for easy viewing on solid surfaces.
Overall, we have been extremely impressed with the build quality of the Griffin Survivor case. In my experience, rugged cases that fall short tend to do so on the quality of their rubber/silicone layers, the overall fit, or with the integrated screen protector, and the Survivor handles all three issues admirably. The silicone is nice and thick, and doesn’t show any signs that it will warp or pull over time. The flaps are all thick but stiff, and we haven’t seen the charging flap or headphone flap start to weaken despite daily use and abuse. Fit is excellent and quite snug — there’s no wiggle room for the iPad to bounce around or for small bits of dust or grit to sneak in and scratch up the surface. Best of all is the screen protector, and I don’t normally praise integrated screen protectors! What makes this one stand out is that it’s part of the frame that fits over the whole package, making it super easy to remove it and clean it, as I mentioned above. This also means when dog hair inevitably gets caught in the case during installation, it isn’t a multi-step process to remove the protector and clean the screen. It’s also quite responsive and Sarah has not noticed any reduced sensitivity or problems interacting with the screen.
All this protection does come at a price though; your once-svelte iPad Air will swell to a significantly larger size in the Survivor case. Honestly, it’s a huge case. It adds some weight as well, but the bigger shocker is how large and grippy the iPad becomes. This isn’t a bad thing if you want protection, but you need to really want that level of safety. The iPad will not fit in a sleeve easily with this case on it, and it will likely be a tight fit in iPad-specific slots in some bags. Also, if for some odd reason you love taking photos with your iPad, you’ll need to pause to open the camera flap, so hopefully you weren’t grabbing your Survivor’d iPad for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
There are those who look at an iPad and want to keep it as thin and unadulterated as possible. They slap a Smartcover on it, maybe protect the back with a clear skin, and that’s it. If you’re one of those people, the Survivor case is absolutely not the case for you. But if you carry your iPad around in tough work environments, or you routinely drop your delicate electronics, a more rugged case is called for, and the Griffin Survivor for the iPad Air is an excellent choice!
MSRP: $79.99 from Griffin, blue/clear pictured, many other color combos available
What I Liked: Very protective; screen protector is easy to remove and clean; easel sets the iPad up at a nice angle
What Needs Improvement: Adds a significant amount of thickness
Source: The Griffin Survivor for iPad Air Case was a manufacturer provided review sample