Ballistic’s $30 Life Style for the iPhone 4/4S provides more than adequate protection without adding the bulk that usually comes with ruggedized cases. With its slim profile and lightweight material, you’ll need to remind yourself that your iPhone even has a case on it. But rest assured—Ballistic has found a nice balance between style and bulk without compromising protection.
Made of a hard, yet flexible, plastic, the Life Style comes in three colors: Transparent Blue, Transparent Smoke, or Solid Black. The transparent models show off your Apple logo through the back.
There are open, pre-formed slots cut into the Life Style to accommodate the back camera lens and LED flash, as well as the headphone jack, bottom speaker, and top and bottom microphones. The dock-connector port is also accessible, so you can hook up your iPhone to a dock-cradle accessory with the case still on. The case provides enough clearance to attach a USB-to-dock-connector cable with ease. The volume and Sleep/Wake buttons have form-fitting plastic overlays.
Perhaps one of the more noteworthy features of the Life Style is the interchangeable bumpers that are placed on each of the four corners of the case. These bumpers come in two sizes: standard rounded bumpers in black, or thicker, more robust bumpers in red. Each corner of the case has a cutout slot for the bumpers to fit. Installation is a breeze—I found that it’s easiest to push the bumpers into place from the inside of the case. Removing the bumpers was a little trickier, but popping them through the openings from the outside was easier than the recommended procedure of pulling them through the inside (just push down on the corners). Once the bumpers are in place, your iPhone will easily fit into the case.
The Life Style held my iPhone very securely, and the form of the case wrapped around the iPhone's display, which provided an added layer of clearance. It was because of this protection that I never hesitated to lay my iPhone facedown on a flat surface.
Overall, I was pleased with how the Ballistic Life Style performed. I wasn’t a big fan of the oversized bumpers, as I felt there was no big advantage to using them over the standard size ones, and the extra bulk they added made the case a little harder to retrieve from my pocket. However, the case never felt cumbersome or heavy, and it provided my iPhone with solid protection.
[Rob Renk is a displaced Chicago Bears fan currently living near Orlando. When not obsessing about everything Apple, he can usually be found out on a boat monitoring Florida’s natural resources. Follow him on Twitter @Renkman]