Review: RhinoShield Playproof and Crashguard
RhinoShield has some inexpensive Apple iPhone cases for sale that claim to offer big protection with a minimal footprint. The Playproof case and Crashguard bumper do keep your phone safe, but perhaps not as safe as you might wish. Here is our review.
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RhinoShield's cases for the iPhone 7 Plus offer good protection at budget-friendly prices. If you're looking to safeguard your pricey handset from drops, the Playproof case and Crashguard bumper deliver a lot of bang for the buck.Background
RhinoShield has a range of cases and screen protectors for the iPhone 7 Plus (and other iPhones). None of the cases is expensive. In fact, most are priced at $25. That stands in stark contrast to options from Otterbox, Catalyst, and even Incipio, Moshi, and Speck, which range from $40 to $80. RhinoShield claims its slim cases offer drop protection up to 11 feet without adding annoying bulk. Can RhinoShield fulfill this promise?Hardware
We're looking at two different but related products from RhinoShield: the Playproof case and the Crashguard Bumper.
The Playproof is a traditional hard shell case. It is formed by toughened plastics that cover the entire back and sides, and wraps around the front to provide a protective rim. It's a simple case. The design is plain, and I rather appreciate that. It truly is minimalistic as far as the footprint is concerned. It increases the iPhone's size by only a few millimeters in each dimension. The weight is nice, too.
The interior surfaces have a distinct pattern to them. The rubber is imprinted with a honeycomb pattern that helps provide cushioning during falls. It's a snug fit, but not so tight as to make the case impossible to install/remove.
The exterior of the case is perfectly smooth. It doesn't quite have a soft-touch feel, but it's in that ballpark. A rougher finish might help the case stick in your hand better, but I can't say my phone went flying out of my hand with using the Playproof. All of the buttons, ports, and switches are accessible with the Playproof installed. I really like the way the case fits over the screen lock and volume buttons. The profile of each button is very good, and travel and feedback is quite nice through the case. A small cutout protects the ringer switch. You need to really dig your thumbnail into flip the switch. RhinoShield left the Lightning port fully exposed, but the speakerphone grilles are covered up with only small holes to allow sound to pass through. A large hole on the rear of the case provides plenty of space for the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera assembly, microphone, and flash.
The Playproof fits the iPhone 7 Plus well and does so with minimal impact to usability.
The Crashguard is aptly named. It's not a full case; instead, it's a bumper that wraps around the outer edges of the iPhone. It's basically the Playproof with the rear panel removed. It provides less protection than the Playproof, but still manages to safeguard the phone from the worst falls. What's the benefit of removing the rear panel? Well, it saves weight and allows the natural beauty of your iPhone to shine through. (I guess?)
The bumper has the same construction of the Playproof case. The exterior surfaces are entirely smooth, hard plastic, while the interior is covered in rubber bumps. I found the Crashguard much harder to install than the Playproof. Since it's a bumper, a tight fit is key. It's easy to loop the bumper over three corners, but getting that fourth corner on is really, really tough. I feared I'd crack my iPhone in the process of stretching the thing on.
The Crashguard provides identical access to the iPhone's buttons and controls. The button profiles are excellent, and travel and feedback are very good through the case. The ringer switch cutout is just as much of a pain as it is on the case. Similarly, the Lightning port is fully accessible on the bottom while the the speakerphone grilles are more open thanks to wide slits.
Both the Playproof and Crashguard are slim and sturdy, but I'm not entirely convinced they're as rugged as RhinoShield claims.
Compared to a number of other cases floating around in my office, the Playproof is the thinnest and least protective in terms of cushioning and materials. There's no doubt it will help keep the phone safe from moderate damage when dropped from waist height, and maybe even shoulder height, but no way in hell am I tossing my iPhone 7 Plus 11 feet in the air to test the full extent of Rhino's stated protection. The case surely prevents the sides, corners, and rear panel from taking on dents and scrapes, even when dropped onto pavement from my hip. I tested it in my driveway and the phone came away unscathed. I was careful not to drop it face-first, however, as the thin rubber rim that circles the front just doesn't give me enough confidence.
The Crashguard gives me even less confidence. Bumpers are about the minimal amount of protection you can add to any device. The Crashguard does prevent the sides and corners from sustaining damage on impact, but it doesn't do anything to truly protect the back and front surfaces. (In fact, RhinoShield recommends Crashguard users install its stick-on glass protectors [$25 for the screen, $5 for the rear] to fortify the front and back.) I suppose the Crashguard is better than nothing. Like the Playproof, RhinoShield claims the Crashguard can handle drops from 11 feet. Again, no freaking way. At most, the Crashguard will prevent me from losing my cool if I accidentally fumble my iPhone when pulling it out of my pocket.
The Playproof case and Crashguard bumper from RhinoShield are low-cost options that deliver a modest level of protection for expensive iPhones. Certainly, using either the case or the bumper is better than using nothing at all. I do like how slim the cases are, and they allow users to access most features of the phone with no trouble.
Perhaps the primary appeal here is the price. As noted, cases from Moshi, Speck, and Incipio typically cost $40, while options from OtterBox and Catalyst range from $50 to $80. All of these provide more protection, but at a significant price premium and increase in size.
If you're on a bit of a budget and want low-level protection in a compact case, the Playproof is a decent option at $25. I would skip the Crashguard bumper, as it just doesn't do enough to justify its $25 cost.
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