BALLISTIC SMOOTH for iPHONE 5
Art of the iPhone’s Rating: ★★★★★
(5 stars out of 5)
Review Summary: The Ballistic Smooth is a slim case with a clever design that adds shock absorption while keeping the case thin and lightweight. It’s simply the best slim case for the iPhone we’ve seen.
Reviewed by: Art of the iPhone
Slim-style iPhone 5 cases are appealing because the iPhone 5 itself is so thin and lightweight, you hate to lose those attributes to a chunky case. The problem is, the slimmer the case, the less protection for your iPhone 5 inside. The Ballistic Smooth ($30) is a cleverly designed slim case that attempts to shirk that rule. It uses bulging rubber corners for extra shock absorption for the iPhone 5′s impact points—the areas most likely to hit a surface first after you drop your iPhone. In total, the Ballistic Smooth is simply the most impressive super-slim case for an iPhone we’ve seen yet.
Protection. I should start by cautioning that the Ballistic Smooth, despite its bulging silicone-rubber padded corners, is still just a slim case, meaning this is not a throw-it-against-the-wall kind of protective case (check out the Otterbox Defender for that). But for its category, the Smooth does offer best-in-class protection for most normal everyday drops. The Smooth comes with 4 sets (4 pieces each, 16 in total) of interchangeable silicone rubber corners that you can remove and replace. These little rubber chunks fit into the protruding corners of the case—they take a little work to switch in and out, so it’s not something you’ll do often. The rubber corners are the case’s primary source of shock absorption (rubber is a great shock-absorbing material). When you lay the iPhone down on a table, these protruding corners stick up enough to prevent the screen from touching the surfaces of tables, desks, etc. Overall, the Smooth makes a good compromise between protection and maintaining a super-slim profile.
Accessibility to the iPhone’s Features. We here at Art of the iPhone consider it an unforgivable sin for an iPhone case to interfere with any of the iPhone’s features. If you’re making an iPhone case, that should be a basic pillar of design, and it’s surprising so many cases do fail at this endeavor. The good news is that Ballistic Smooth makes no big mistakes—you can use all the iPhone’s buttons, cameras, and ports, as you’d expect. But the Smooth isn’t perfect either: with the case on, you must press about twice as hard to operate the iPhone’s sleep/wake button on the top. This may be something to consider if you’re giving the case to a very young child, who might not be able to press the button, but for most adults, it’s not really a problem.
Fit & Fashion. The Ballistic Smooth is, as its name suggests, smooth to the touch and generally feels good to hold in the hand. The case is made of a polycarbonate that is a bit softer than most hard-plastic cases, giving it a little bit of give. Its edges are rounded and feel much better to hold the sharp edges of a naked iPhone 5.
In terms of style, tI found the Ballistic Smooth to be just an average-looking case. I’m not a fan of the look of the interchangeable color rubber inserts. With my black Smooth case, I prefer the black rubber inserts so they stay visually hidden. The Smooth is also available in 6 other color schemes, so perhaps a color other than black will improve its fashion appeal.
The Ballistic Smooth ($30) is simply the best slim-style case for any version of the iPhone I’ve seen yet. Its cleverly padded, bulging-corners design adds shock absorption for the iPhone’s impact points, yet still keeps the rest of the case thin and lightweight. The Ballistic Smooth is a near-perfect slim-style case; it’s also the first iPhone 5 case to receive a 5-star rating on our site. The Smooth has only one small flaw—you’ll need to press a little harder to operate the the iPhone 5′s sleep/wake button with this case on, but other than that, if you want a thin case for the iPhone 5, the Smooth is currently our top pick.