Review of Ballistic Aspira, Shell Gel SG, and SG MAXX Series w/lots of pics!!!Tips


  1. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    This is a Review of Ballistic Series Lineup of new S4 cases: Samsung Galaxy S 4 Cases | Ballistic Case Co.

    I just received a promo pack from Ballistic with samples of their new lineup of S4 cases. Since I'm already familiar with their Shell Gel SG for Note 2, I was expecting to see a familiar padded corner design. But as soon as I opened the package, I was in for a few surprises. I can see Ballistic raised their bar again!

    First is the brand new series called Aspira. This design is the slimmest out of three from this new S4 lineup where you have a dual layer with inner rubber layer molded together with outer PC layer. No need to worry about assembly of two separate layers anymore, it's a single piece design now while still keeping the same reinforced corner protection. The inner rubber layer part wraps nicely around the screen providing a decent lip to keep the phone off the surface faced down or if you drop it on flat surface. Power/Volume buttons are covered and easy to push. All the port openings are precisely aligned. One nice detail, the combined camera/flash opening has a inner black lining to prevent pictures from being overexposed due to reflection. The rubber material is very smooth and non-sticky, the case is very pocket friendly for easy in/out. As a matter of fact, the back of the case has a high polish finish which looks nice, but actually on a slippery side. There are a lot of color variations with some sick honeycomb designs. Samsung Galaxy S 4 Ballistic Aspira Series Case | goballisticcase.com

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    Next one is their familiar Shell Gel SG which steps up to three layers with two separate pieces of inner soft silicone (with reinforced corners) and outer hard plastic with another third layer of non-slip rubber molded on top of hard plastic one. This design offers some serious drop protection from any corner, back, and front. You get a decent lip on the front of the phone to keep the screen off the surface, and non-slip protection padding on the back to lay phone flat face up without worrying of bumping/sliding phone off the slippery surface. Power/Volume buttons are covered, and easy to push. Ports perfectly aligned with an adequate opening to fit any oversized micro-usb connector or headphone connector. Camera/flash opening is combined and has the same nice black lining detail. I also noticed two slits on the sides, the same as in MAXX series for the holster, although I found MAXX holster to be a bit bigger for Shell Gel series. I wonder if there will be another holster released for this case. One thing to keep in mind, because of oversized soft silicone inner layer, there will be some pulling around the edges where outer plastic shell is not holding it down, and it's probably going to be noticeable when you pull the case out of the pocket. This one also comes in a variety of colors. Samsung Galaxy S 4 Ballistic Shell Gel SG Series Case | goballisticcase.com

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  2. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    Well, if you think Shell Gel SG is not enough protection for you - here you got SG MAXX. As the name suggests, this series will take your protection to the next Maximum level. The design of the case is similar to Shell Gel SG in terms of three layers with inner silicone shell and outer hard plastic shell with molded third non-slip back layer. It has the same reinforced corner protection and Power/Volume covered buttons with a nice response. And you get a great lip around the screen to lay it flat without worrying of display touching the surface. To distinguish itself, MAXX also adds micro-usb port and headphone port dust covers. These are nicely attached to the inner silicone shell and in addition to being covers also have molded plugs to go right into the port opening. MAXX also comes with its own hard plastic holster that securely holds the case in place and has a swivel clip for portrait or landscape position. Here comes a big surprise - a rigid, user replaceable screen protector that according to Ballistic provides impact protection. This is not a screen protector you apply to the screen of the phone. And its not a permanently attached to the case screen protector. This one is part of the case assembly as a separate fourth protection layer where you have a choice to either using it or not. And if you are in a situation where you drop the case on an object protruded from the ground and screen protector is damaged (while saving your phone display), you can easily replace it with another one without replacing the whole case. Very easy. Of course, don't expect a clarity of a regular PET thin film protector or tempered glass. But this relatively clear plastic protector does it's job where you can see the screen, and use your fingers for navigation. I had no problem using air view functionality. I'm not going to lie, the screen image will look a little grainy with this screen protector on. But it obviously intended not for everyday use or for those extreme situations where impact protection of your screen is more valuable than crystal clarity. But like I said, you always have a choice of using it only if you need to. It's just a matter of sticking it under the corners of inner silicone shell where it stays securely attached. Samsung Galaxy S 4 Ballistic SG MAXX Series Case | goballisticcase.com

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    Here is a shot of all 3 cases side by side for a general comparison. Overall, very impressive collection for those who value their phone and put drop protection with a style at the top of their list. Btw, for comparison, I weighted all 3 and found Aspira to be 1.4oz (40g), Shell Gel SG to be 2.2oz (60g), and SG MAXX to be 2.6oz (74g) and together w/holster to be 4.5oz (128g).

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    BLACKTOOTHGRIN likes this.
  3. BLACKTOOTHGRIN

    BLACKTOOTHGRIN Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the detailed review.
    I've been on the fence about buying an SG MAXX for a while now.
    I'm currently using an UAG case (Urban Armor Gear) for everyday use. I'm very pleased with it, and still think I prefer it over the Ballistic Aperia Series.
    However...I'm seriously considering the SG MAXX for more of a outdoors type of use on the weekends. Something for Camping, Hiking, or just more iffy situations for a smartphone.

    Do you find the edges on the SG MAXX make it difficult pulling the phone in and out of the pocket? Are the edges made of that material that becomes an instant Lint Magnet? Do you find the thickness and extra bulk of the SG MAXX to be overbearing such as the Otterbox Defender?

    Once again, great review.
    How did you get Ballistic to give you all of these cases? Are you a retailer?
  4. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    Have you visited my master review link in the signature of first post? ;) http://androidforums.com/samsung-galaxy-note-2/708384-twister-reviews-note-2-accessories.html - a ton of reviews I have written in the last 4+ months. What has started as a hobby turned into an even bigger hobby on a larger scale :D I do this for fun, writing reviews exclusively for AndroidForums and XDA-Dev forums. I enjoy it, and built a great relationship with all these vendors who trust and respect my opinion and send me their products for review so I can share with all of you guys.

    Now to answer your question. MAXX is intended for extreme protection, people who want to use it outdoors, or working on construction, or factory environment, etc. I don't think the main intention is for the case to be pocket friendly since it comes with a great holster. It will fit in the pocket, and probably will attract some lint because of nature of silicone material. It's not as sticky as it was with Note 2 case, but there is definitely a possibility it can pull on inner lining of your pocket (but nothing extreme). The intention of this case is not for every day pocket use, this is extreme protection to the max level. I can't comment about Defender since I haven't tested it and have no intentions of testing it.
  5. BLACKTOOTHGRIN

    BLACKTOOTHGRIN Well-Known Member

    Gotcha.
    Thanks for the added info.

    I also sent a response to the PM you had sent to me,
    so look for that as well. ;)
  6. Discus49

    Discus49 New Member

    Don't buy the excellent Maax case if you live outside the USA. The "user-replaceable" screen protector is not available here in Australia. You can buy one from Ballistic in the US for $9.99. However the postage is $145.

    The cases are widely available here at reasonable prices but no-one sells the screen protectors.

    A good product spoilt by indifferent after sales service. :mad:

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