Tough Pelican ProGear Cases for iOS Mobile Devices

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The Pelican brand has been used by professionals in a wide range of industries including military, aerospace, industrial, and consumer markets. Now iOS mobile device owners can also use a trusted Pelican case, thanks to the introduction of the ProGear Vault and Protector Series cases. Both offer protection against drops, splashes, and everyday wear and tear. But you may already know that—so we decided to do a little real-world testing and bring the results to you.

Over the course of a week, we took a look at the ProGear Vault series case, designed for the iPhone 5, available in black, dark gray/red, white/black, green/black, or purple/gray. It's made from a combination of aluminum and polymer-reinforced rubber. The rubberized/aluminum case does a great job of absorbing shocks and impacts and is designed to protect your phone against wind-driven snow, rain, and dust. It also features water-resistant covers for the microphone and speakers on your iPhone, but is designed so that you have full functionality of your phone’s controls while it's inside the case. There are aluminum volume up/down button covers and a dial over the mute button—simply turn it left or right, and it will shift the slider switch up or down to enable or disable the mute function. There is also a rubberized cover for the home button and pop-out airtight cover for the charging port. Both the front and rear cameras are covered by DragonTrail glass (similar to Gorilla glass), allowing you to continue taking clear photos while your phone is in the case. Also included is a 6 x 6-inch-square microfiber cloth to clean the screen.

One thing to note is that while the Vault offers much more protection, it will take slightly longer to install your iPhone. The case features three pieces: a front, back, and precision-cut screen protector. These are held together with four stainless-steel hex-head machine screws, and included is a small hex-head wrench so you can put it all together. The machine-screw heads sit flush against the case once they're tightened and it only takes a minute to fasten the front and screen protector. However, the screws are tiny and get lost easily. Two extras are included with the case in the event you do lose one or two. You'll also want to keep the wrench handy for disassembly when you want to take your phone out of the case. Assembly instructions are included, but it's a fairly intuitive process.

This same case is also available for the iPad mini in black/gray, gray/orange, or magenta/gray if you’re also looking for weatherized protection for your Apple tablet. This larger version adds a detachable cover that folds back into an easel stand that can prop up your tablet for hands-free viewing in landscape mode. The cover is held in place by tensioned hinges.

Also available (for iPhone 5) is the ProGear Protector series in black/gray, gray/orange, teal/white, red/gray or white/gray. Slightly less rugged than the Vault, this case is designed to guard against minor, everyday shocks and impacts. It feels solid in your hand, and features a tough chamber exterior made from the same materials as the Vault. It's also easier to fit your phone into the case than the Vault, since it is simply two pieces that snap together around your phone. The outer shell is smooth to the touch, and the cover itself wraps around the edge of the touchscreen to offer a miniscule bit of protection in case you drop the phone face down. There is a cutout for the rear camera, a mute switch, and a large opening at the bottom to access the charging port, speakers, and headphone jack. There are rubberized covers for the volume buttons and the top power button, but the front face is left open, allowing for easy touchscreen navigation.

As for our stress tests, we started by putting the Vault case in a freezer set to -2 degrees Fahrenheit (-18.9 degrees Celsius) for three hours to mimic snow and cold-weather conditions. Since we didn’t have a spare iPhone to use in the case, we put PH strips inside the housing to see if any moisture would seep in. After removing the case from the freezer, the PH strip was untouched, although the case emerged slightly more rigid (yet fully intact). No cracking, no bending or warping, and no frost or condensation.

Next, we tried our version of Vault handball, and threw the Vault against a concrete wall from a distance of six feet. Why six feet? We figured if you’re angry at someone at the other end of the line, a six-foot throw should effectively cover the distance in your apartment from you to the wall. The black test model we threw had a few scuffs, no glass damage, and no warping, coming out virtually unscathed.

We also stepped on the case with sneakers and 2-inch heels. Why? Because we figured if you accidentally step on the case, it’s going to be while working out or out on the town. Again, the case remained rigid and intact. There was a small scratch from the heels, but structurally the case stood strong. 

The final test was during a recent rainstorm. We left the Vault on an outdoor ledge for several hours, face up. Again, we couldn’t find someone to lend us an iPhone for the experiment, so we kept the glass rigid with a foam insert and placed PH strips inside the cover. The front camera glass and screen cover remained airtight, and the microphone and speaker covers showed no sign of leakage either. The real test was accidental—we forgetfully left the Vault in a jacket pocket and put it through with a load of laundry, luckily without the phone. Since it's only intended to be water resistant, and not waterproof, this was the only test that exhibited slight water leakage (after all, it's a 45-minute cycle). We don’t recommend putting the iPhone in with a load of laundry while in the Vault case, and neither does Pelican.

Since the Protector case is intended for the less, let’s say, adventurous iPhone 5 user, we went a little easier on this model. No freezer burning, no inadvertent washing, and no angry late-night phone-throwing dramatics—we simply took it with us wherever we went. We toted it around for several days, exposing it to direct sunlight as much as possible (but less than eight hours per day). We also did a drop test from desk height (three feet) onto a hard, tiled surface, and from hip height onto the concrete outside our building. Our less-than-scientific findings? The test model fared extremely well in both cases—it didn't exhibit any discoloration from the sun or any damage from the drop test. It kept the iPhone snug as a bug in a polymer-encased, hard-shell rug.

Both the Vault (2.72 oz) and Protector (1.44 oz) for iPhone 5 are relatively lightweight, too, so they won’t add much weight to your device. They’re also slim (each is just about ½” thick) and won’t add much bulk, which is of equal importance for many iPhone users. And, Pelican backs each come with a lifetime warranty—which you may not need if our tests are any indication. And once again, these are informal, day-to-day stress tests. Unless you’re sitting on my roof, sharing my washing machine, wearing my two-inch heels, or eating out of my freezer, results may vary for you.

For more information about any of these Pelican cases, stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, speak with a sales professional on the telephone at 1-800-606-6969 or contact us online via Live Chat.