iPhone cases are a dime a dozen, but to find one that you can actually live with is like trying to find an avocado out of season. They are either too big, too flimsy, too sparkly or just don't fit right.
G-Form has gone the protective route, as it would, and has produced a rugged looking item. Called the XTREME, it has foam pads in the shape of an 'X' on the back but with pads in-between the shape and also along the edges of the case. It consists of a relatively hard plastic case that the phone sits in with an outer case housing the foam that the hard case sits in. The inner case has the buttons for the volume control and power with holes for the silent switch, speaker, charger and headphone jack.
The foam is soft to the touch and is very flexible but stiffens upon impact and is said to absorb more than 90% of the forces inflicted on it. As G-Form puts it, "it's a composite blend of PORON®XRD™ material and proprietary G-Form materials and technology". It is light, flexible and has a similar feel to memory foam, minus the memory.
I use my phone for music as much as for phoning anyone, so a case absolutely needs to be able to take an Aux cable easily. I've had so many cases that Aux cables with thicker wires didn't fit into, but I am happy to say that it was no problem for the XTREME. The hard plastic buttons also worked well, although the power one wasn't very tactile as you couldn't always feel when it was pushed. The silent switch was accessible, though when fitting the case or removing it, the switch was often toggled.
While it's not as bulky as other heavy duty iPhone cases, it's still far from a wafer-thin slip. What I did appreciate immensely is the fact that it didn't stick to my pockets every time I retrieved it or put it back. The foam slides nicely against fabric and it was refreshing compared to rubberised cases. Many cases of this size offer waterproof capabilities, though, and this is not a feature of the G-Form. So mountain bikers will have to take a waterproof bag with them if they venture into soggy places or get caught in the rain.
There's no doubt that the G-Form XTREME case offers solid protection if it drops on the right places, which it does most of the time. I really didn't hold back testing this case and my iPhone 5 kind of took a bit of a toll for it. Because the padding is split up into 9 sections on the back and scattered on the edge and corners, there's still room for objects to hit the plastic under-lining cover, which doesn't have that stiffening feature as the foam. What I found after removing the case was a slightly squashed bevelling and a few sizeable dents at the top back of the phone, exactly where there wasn't padding. What impressed me most was how well the case allowed the iPhone to cartwheel if thrown properly. It may sound stupid that a case would cartwheel nicely, but it shows that it not only takes the impact well, but it displaces the forces across the case and not into the phone. Were it not for the case the phone would haver surely cracked.
But here is where the problem lies. Do you want more protection with the price of bulkiness? Or do you want less heft and risk damage? I've always been a bit less is more when it comes to iPhone covers. It's one of the main reasons I got an iPhone because it's not the size of my laptop. So to add to the bulk I need a real good reason, especially considering the R599 price tag. And unfortunately, I don't care enough about my phone to warrant the excess space that the XTREME case takes up in my pocket. It's a great idea, though and will certainly serve very well for people who use their devices outdoors or in situations where dropping it is likely.