Remember our review of Griffin's Survivor case for the iPhone 4 we posted a while back? This time we've got our hands on Griffin's latest addition to the Survivor family of extreme-duty cases. It's the most mean and vicious protective case Griffin has ever created. And for good reason. The Survivor case for the iPad 2 has taken on similar aspects from the Survivor case for the iPhone 4 and it evolved to improve on some of the few bad cons the Survivor case for the iPhone 4 had. The Survivor case for the iPad 2 isn't going to come cheap, its $79.99 price tag will surely make you think twice, though the Survivor was tested and certified to meet or exceed military standards just so it can save your iPad 2's life from harm's way.
Griffin's Survivor case is the toughest iPad 2 case I've ever set my hands on, but is it really worth your hard earned (or easily earned, no judging) $80? Find out in the full review right after the cut!
What you get when you opened up the packaging is the Survivor case and a portable stand which I'll get into later on. What makes the Survivor such a monster when it comes down to protecting your iPad 2 is its layers of protection. First you have the inner shell that is made out of a rigid, shatter-resistant hard polycarbonte frame with a built-in screen protection film. It completely covers and seals the iPad 2's display all around to protect it against rain. I should note that it isn't a water-proof case. It's also worth nothing that Griffin has added a layer of foam on the inside of the polycarbonate frame to absorb shock.
Next up in the layers of protection is the outer silicone layer that surround the iPad 2 incased in the rigid polycarbonate frame with the built-in screen protection film. Just like the Survivor case for the iPhone 4, this is one thick slab of silicone that can withstand vibration, shock and drops. It feels very durable and it's got a grainy texture to it that really helps with lint and dust from sticking to it. Installation does take a bit of time to slip on that thick layer of silicone onto the polycarbonate shell. You'll have to make sure that everything comes together and snaps in place. No worries though, everything fits together just as it should.
Gone is the inner polycarbonate frame showing thru the back silicone layer. It's now replaced by thick silicone parts of what looks like futuristic armor plating. Or maybe you just see a turtle shell-like look. What ever the case may be, I really like the look of both the Survivor cases for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4. Griffin has done a superb job designing and improving the Survivor case for the iPad 2. What I was disappointed in when first reviewing the iPhone 4 version was the built-in silicone port plugs. If you wanted to use your iPhone 4's back facing camera, you would have to hold the cover open while taking a picture or a video. It wasn't very functional. I'm glad that now Griffin has improved upon that and made adjustments on the iPad 2 Survivor version. Port plugs now have a hinged design and you can keep them opened by inserting them into their black port docks. The port plugs will remain docked and opened without any issues. I've tested this out while docking every single port plug for a full day without a single one coming lose.
Those port plugs are not the most easiest to open and require some fiddling around though. Even though port cutouts are deeply recessed, I had no trouble with using various headphone plugs and USB sync cables. Volume and sleep/wake buttons are covered by the silicone layer and remain very responsive and have a nice tactile button press feedback.
I've been using the Survivor case on my iPhone 4 for quite some time now and I must say that I'm a big fan of the Survivor. Its tough protection has proven to be most effective. There are many cases that are similar in bulk, yet I only find the Survivor case to be most comfortable and usable. The Survivor case for the iPad 2 is no different in that regard. You already know how slim the iPad 2 is as a tablet. So by adding an extreme amount of protection that is the Survivor, the overall bulk remains very manageable and not at all out of proportion. Yes the Survivor case adds a considerable amount of bulk to the iPad 2, however it isn't all too bad when you hold it in your hands. The feeling is just as comfortable.
But what about that built-in screen protector? Unfortunately, it hasn't changed at all since the Survivor case for the iPhone 4. There's still this feeling of a resistive touch screen feeling, more so towards the edges of the screen. In some instances you will feel like only touching your screen isn't going to be enough to register your input on the touch screen because of how the built-in screen protector is raised above the iPad 2's screen. My only explanation to why this happens is because Griffin wanted to eliminate any sort of watermarking occurring. They have succeeded in that regard, but it does affect the way you feel and interact with your iPad 2's touch screen. This isn't such a big deal with the small screen of the iPhone 4 as it is with the iPad 2's large screen real estate and the larger built-in screen protector surface area having a more pronounced resistive touch screen effect. I should note that most of the iPad 2's touch screen remains as responsive as if it wasn't covered up.
A very welcomed addition to the Survivor case for the iPad 2 is the included stand, which Griffin designed to flawlessly blend in and clip onto the Survivor's either sides. The stand is extremely portable and versatile. It can be easily clipped on and carried with you as you use your iPad 2 inside the Survivor case.
When it comes time to whip out the clip-on stand, it can prop up your iPad 2 in the landscape position that I think has a perfect viewing angles. It isn't the most sturdy stand so you may want to be careful when interacting with the touch screen as it may tip over. While you won't be able to use it as a portrait viewing stand, it can also be used to position your iPad 2 in the typing mode by simply laying your iPad 2 on its back. If you rely on your iPad 2 for all sorts of typing needs, this will come in handy to get your work done.
Another issue that I've noticed when using the Survivor case for the iPad 2 is that it makes creaking noises when holding it with one hand. It isn't too bad and noisy but you can definitely hear and feel the inner polycarbonate frame creaking inside the silicone layer. The weight of the iPad 2 creates the creaking when holding it with one hand. Something I do quite often and it can get annoying if you're sensitive to creaking sounds. Whether it's just a case with my sample, I'm not sure. It's safe to say that most of the Survivor cases for the iPad 2 will have similar signs. I'm not too happy about creaking noises, especially for this price. Griffin has yet another issue to fix.
When it comes down to protection, you can't beat the Survivor series of cases. Drop, shock, dirt, sand, dust and rain will never harm your iPad 2 while it's inside a Survivor case. Griffin has improved some drawback from early Survivor cases yet they seem to have more on their hands. I really wished this would be a flawless case, sadly it isn't. If a bit of creaking and the weird resistive touch screen feeling isn't going to bother you anytime soon, I would recommend taking a look at the Survivor case for the iPad 2. I love the relatively "slim" profile and the extreme amount of protection it has to offer. Not to mention the added grip and comfort of holding the iPad 2 is fantastic to say the least. At $$79.99 the Survivor is pretty pricy, but when compared to other similar rivals, it's not as pricy. If you search around you will find the Survivor case in a much cheaper price.