The two most important things to consider when evaluating and all-purpose iPhone case are its size and it's ability to protect the phone from drops. While there are many other factors we'll need to consider, this PlayProof case by evolutive labs certainly nails those two. They claim that this case is drop rated to 11.5 feet while only adding 2mm of thickness to the iPhone. Evolutive labs was kind enough to send me these cases for review and in this review we'll put the PlayProof through its paces and show you why this case is one of my new top picks for an iPhone case.
Evolutive Labs is more well known for their Rhinoshield CrashGuard bumper as well as their Rhinoshield Impact screen protector, which I had on my iPhone 6S during this PlayProof review. If you haven't yet seen David Pogue take an iPhone and throw it to the ground from the top of an A frame ladder while using this CrashGuard bumper, click the i to head over and see that now. Also, if you're interested in seeing Evolutive Labs take a hammer to an iPhone protected with their Impact screen protector, click the i to see that as well.
You can buy the solid color PlayProof for $25 or one of the many custom prints for $30. Additionally you can purchase a bundle with a discounted Impact screen protector for $40 or $45 respectively. That's a $10 savings off the regular price. I highly recommend you get the bundle as this screen protector provides insane amounts of protection. As with most screen protectors you have to be really careful when lining this up as it only covers the actual screen itself.
Now for the drop testing. My normal pocket and texting height drops aren't an issue. I felt so sure of this case that I also tossed it down my brick steps twice. The Impact screen protector and PlayProof case kept my iPhone well protected.
To install the case you start from a corner and work your way around the edges. The case fits really tightly but isn't too difficult to install. Removal is very similar. Like most cases, I usually start from the more flexible corner by the volume buttons and slowly pry the case off. Here you can see the honeycomb inside which helps with shock protection as well. Each of these provides a little pocket of air against the back of your phone to act as an airbag. Evolutive labs refers to this as their Eggdrop technology. The case is composed of a hard outer shell fused together with a soft inner lining. The result is a fairly rigged case with very little give.
The power and volume buttons are completely covered and are still fairly easy to press. The mute switch cutout is probably my biggest complaint about this case. I generally have to use my index fingernail although my thumb works occasionally as well. This cutout could definitely stand to be a little larger. The headphone jack and lightning port cutouts are decently sized and you shouldn't have much problem with third party connectors. However, if you have an oversized headphone plug you may run into issues here.
The Impact screen protector claims to resist smudging and fingerprints. That's not my experience and it acted more like a fingerprint magnet. However, once you turn on the display it's not noticed. If you're the type of person that has to have a clean screen though, this may be an issue for you.
The custom backs are referred to as 2.5d printing. On this wood plank version you can actually feel the grooves between the boards even down to the knots on the planks themselves. They have many different styles and add new styles every week. The designs are printed directly onto the back of the solid color cases and if damaged will reveal the solid color beneath. However, this one has been pretty durable considering what I've put it through. My other top iPhone case choice is a more tactical looking case by Urban Armor Gear. It's a fantastic case but not the look that everyone is going for. With the PlayProof there are so many choices that there's a case design for almost everyone. The other print I received had colorful polka dots on the back and you can see how each dot is raised off the back of the case.
The PlayProof is so thin and hugs to the contours of the iPhone so closely that it almost feels like it's part of the phone. If Apple made an iPhone 6C with a plastic back, this is what it would feel like. The only downside to this material is it's more slippery than some people will prefer. I personally like that better though so that the phone is easily removed from my pocket. The back is going to be too slippery for some, but honestly, with this kind of protection, it's not that big of a deal.
Evolutive Labs makes a big deal about the material science behind these cases. That's because these aren't made from your typical TPU. Instead it's a custom blend of polymers developed exclusively by Evolutive Labs and that's what gives them their crazy 11.5 foot drop protection. Not only that but they continue to make improvements to the material so if you're watching this review 6 months to a year from now, chances are the PlayProof that you'll receive is a new and improved material compared to the one I'm reviewing today. The only flexible part of the case is the section around the volume buttons and mute switch. I've pulled on it repeatedly and it continues to pop right back into place.
After a month of heavy use and inserting and removing the phone frequently, I have started to experience some separation of the two materials. It currently doesn't present any problems but does make me wonder about the longevity of this case. Surprisingly, Evolutive Labs said this isn't a defect and wouldn't be covered by their warranty. They did offer to sell me a discounted replacement at 40% off though. The PlayProof comes with a lifetime warranty. Should anything happen that's deemed a manufacturer's defect Evolutive Labs will replace it completely free of charge. However they're not going to cover cosmetic damage like scratches from being dropped to brick or concrete.
I had really high expectations for this case and it's lived up to them all. I really enjoy the gray and white look against a white iPhone and it's stayed really clean even when used in dirty environments. Evolutive Labs also says their cases clean very well when soaked in detergent and cold water overnight. The only downsides worth mentioning on this case are the small mute switch cutout, the slippery back, and my concerns over the durability of the materials over time. For most people those will be outweighed by the benefits of a case this thin and light with such extreme drop protection. If you have any questions I didn't cover feel free to leave those in the comments and I'll get back to you.