[Review] Ballistic Smooth case for iPhone 5 [Video]

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Finding a smartphone case that gives you plenty of protection without going overboard in terms of bulk is somewhat difficult. Fortunately,  Ballistic has what they call the Smooth case. Its TPU material gives you plenty of protection without adding much in the way of thickness. You can find it in a number of different colors, each of which will run you $29.99 from Ballistic’s website.

Packaging

Ballistic keeps things simple by not adding an assortment of unneeded packaging materials. The actual printed images on the box are a bit generic, as they show images of their cases for other products, but this is the least that anybody should be worried about.

Design & Materials

The primary material of the Smooth is a soft-touch TPU, making the case flexible and preferred when it comes to drops. On the back, you’ll find the Ballistic logo (glossy). In each of the 4 corners, you’ll find interchangeable silicon “bumpers.” My case came with the green ones preinstalled. Included in the packaging are additional bumpers, colored red, white, and black.

The soft-touch TPU material will help you very much for fingerprints and scratches, but not so much for grip. I found the case to be slippery on a number of occasions.

To help with drop protection, the four corners on the back are slightly raised. This also helps keep the case looking like new on the back, as it will be raised up from a surface.

Features

Feature-wise, the Smooth is rather basic. Other than the corner bumpers that you can switch, the rest of the case is pretty standard. There are TPU button covers for the volume buttons as well as the power button. While you get a nice “click” for the volume buttons, the power button fears quite the opposite. All of them require a bit of extra force to press. I like this, as I won’t have to worry about any accidental presses of the buttons while the case is in my pocket. The silent switch cutout on the left side is very large and easy to access. This means that people, for example, who are wearing gloves can easily access their switch.

At the bottom, there’s one large cutout for your 3.5mm headset jack, microphone, Lightning port, and speaker. Personally, I prefer having individual cutouts to keep unnecessary material on the bottom of my phone from being exposed when it doesn’t need to be.

Lastly, the back of the case has a bit of an oversized cutout for the camera. Honestly, I’m not sure why case manufacturers take this approach. Of the 30+ iPhone 5 cases I’ve reviewed, none of them suffered from flash issues, which I believe is due to the fact that the LED flash is separated from the camera more than on the iPhone 4/4S. Because of this, I see no reason why cutouts need to be this large. A simple pill-shaped cutout would’ve sufficed. Regardless, this most likely won’t bother most people.

Value/Conclusion

I was a bit disappointed by the lack of standard accessories that many case companies include with their products. In short, I’m referring to screen protectors and cleaning cloths. While I’m sure most people have a few of those already, it’s a simple way to show customers that the company doesn’t mind including a few extras. On their end, a simple screen protector would add virtually nothing to the cost of the case. This resulted in me wishing that the price of the case would be a bit lower by about $5. $29.99 seems a tad bit high for a case that’s this simple, so $24.99 would seem a bit more reasonable.

Nevertheless, the Smooth case by Ballistic is a choice worth taking a look at for those who wish to have plenty of drop protection without having to resort to a much thicker alternative.

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