Ballistic HC iPhone 4/S Case Review

For the longest time I have been using an OtterBox case that I bought when I got my phone.  Now don’t get me wrong, it was a great case, but everywhere I turned I saw someone else with the same case (that’s what you get when AT&T tries to force sell them to you) and I like to be different.  Unfortunately I’m constantly dropping my phone – the one time I was testing out a case that didn’t have good protection on it I dropped my iPhone and it fell right on its screen.  As you could imagine, the screen shattered instantly (thank God my wife talked me into paying for insurance), and I realized just how much I needed a good protective case.  But if I wanted to leave my precious OtterBox behind, where could I turn for the same level of protection – or better yet, more protection?

That’s when the Ballistic HC case came into my life.  The HC stands for “Hard Core”, and let me tell you, that is exactly what this case is.  The Ballistic HC case is meant for those of us that lead active lives, with both hard and soft shelled design elements, screen and port protection, and a design that sets it apart.  I always worry about my iPhone when out doing things because (and I’m sure this is true for a number of you out there) it is my lifeline to the world and a very integral part of my job.  In this business I have to be able to respond to emails on a moment’s notice whether I’m out doing something or not, and when my phone goes down I get behind.  Finding a case that not only protects my phone. but one that allows me to feel secure taking it out rappelling or backpacking is a boon indeed.

So lets talk about the protection, shall we? First and foremost, the Ballistic HC case is made of three pieces that interlock with each other in order to protect your precious phone.  The first piece looks a lot like what you would see as a “regular” iPhone case – something that the average guy or girl on the street might have.  It is what looks like a simple plastic case that your iPhone snaps into to provide an initial layer of back protection.  You can just stop there if you want because the piece does offer a good amount of back and side protection, while not blocking any of the ports – in fact when I set my iPhone to charge at night I leave this layer on.  Another benefit of this layer is the fact that, like the OterBox, it has a screen protector built right in.  No more trying to clumsily apply your own screen protector with one of these, however they can be a bit of a pain to get completely clean.

The next piece to the case goes over top of the hard plastic shell, and is a soft, rubbery material.  It is the same thing I was used to with the OtterBox I had used for so long, but the Ballistic HC seemed a lot more stylish in its design.  At any rate, the soft bumper not only makes your iPhone a lot more resistant to falls and drops, but it also helps further protect it by allowing you to close off ports.  Pretty much the only thing that isn’t covered by this is the camera, which meant that while the Ballistic HC case isn’t waterproof, it is dust and dirt proof.  Like I said earlier – perfect for those of us that like to get outside and get dirty.

The last thing that attaches to the case is a belt clip – I know it isn’t much in the way of protection, but when I started using it I started dropping my iPhone less.  No more reaching into my pocket to grab it and having it come tumbling out.  The belt clip attaches to the back nice and easily, and while you don’t have to use it I definitely recommend it.  The best thing about it is that you can use it with the soft bumper attached or removed.  Now there are (obviously) some negatives to the case.  The first, and most readily apparent is the size issue.  The Ballistic HC case adds a good bit of weight and heft to your iPhone, and there is going to be an issue for some people.  The other biggest drawback is more apparent for people with larger fingers.  The way that the front of the case rises up makes it hard to hit any buttons in the corners or on the edges.  It took a good bit of getting used to, but I started using the side of my finger for any keyboard buttons on the sides.

Editor’s Rating:



Bottom Line:  The Ballistic HC case is not a case for the average iPhone user, but for those of us with a need for a case with a ton of protection, the Ballistic HC comes through in spades.


  • The Ballistic HC case is a great and stylish alternative to the all too popular OtterBox case
  • The case looks good even without the rubbery bumper attached to it
  • I took it with me backpacking and while my phone fell once about eight feet into the dirt, it was perfectly fine


  • For an average iPhone user, the added bulk might be an issue
  • The Ballistic HC case is more expensive than an “average” case is
  • The raised sides, while offering good protection, makes it harder to hit certain areas of the screen

You can pick up a Ballistic HC iPhone 4/S case of your own from Ballistic’s website for $49.99




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