The Trident Cyclops Hybrid for iPhone 4 ($23) is a uniquely designed, rugged, two-part case that does an admirable job of protecting the iPhone without adding too much bulk. Where most protection-focused cases run at a premium price, the Cyclops offers less excellent protection and design at an affordable price.
The Cyclops comes in three parts: a two-part, snap-together hard shell, and then a silicone rubber band that wraps around the outside edge and adds shock absorption for the iPhone’s impact points. The case is somewhat of a chore to put together, and once in place, it’s not coming off again in a hurry. The upside to this is that there is little worry the case will ever come apart when dropped. But if you like swapping the iPhone in and out of cases, the Cyclops will be problematic.
Also included is a clear plastic screen cover you can place over the iPhone’s front glass if you choose and which will protect it against scrapes and abrasions. In our testing, the cover did not interfere with touchscreen performance. But there was a small annoyance that, sometimes, if you push down hard, a slight “click” would be experienced as the two screens push into each other, but it generally wasn’t a problem. The screen covers the front camera and IR sensor on the front as well.
The case also uses clear plastic to cover the Apple logo on the rear of the iPhone but not, it’s important to note, on the rear camera. Some Amazon reviewers have had trouble with flash bounce from this case, but in our completely unscientific testing, we didn’t have notice any.
The case offers average accessibility to the iPhone’s buttons and ports. The iPhone’s volume controls and sleep button are covered with silicone simulated buttons and work accurately when pressed. Interestingly, the bottom speakers have a thin layer of gauze to protect them, but which generally didn’t effect sound levels or quality. The mute switch, headphone port, and docking port are completely open to the air. Even though the Cyclops does a valiant job of keeping the case on the slim side, it’s still difficult to reach and activate the mute switch. In a minor annoyance, the headphone port is significantly recessed, but will still work well with most headphones, including Apple’s default. We couldn’t find a pair of headphones that didn’t work, but if not, luckily, Trident has included a headphone extender.
In terms of grip, the case does offer an improvement on a naked iPhone. The silicone band around the outside of the phone adds grippyness and a soft feel to an otherwise rock-hard plastic protector underneath. The only problem with the silicone band is that it occasionally shifts out of the little groove it sits in, so you frequently have to push it back into place. A minor quibble, but still annoying.
The Trident Cyclops Hybrid ($23) offers excellent two-layer protection at a relatively inexpensive price—inexpensive, at least, when compared with similar protection-focused cases. We liked its soft feel and general build quality—nice to see from a lesser known brand in the world of iPhone cases. Of course, the case is not quite perfect, with minor accessibility issues and a problem with the silicone edge coming loose occasionally. And it’s not a case that you can take on and off the iPhone easily. But overall, we really liked the Cyclops. We highly recommend it with a rating of 8.0 out of 10.