Spigen Tough Armor and Slim Armor Case Review for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
We recently took a look at what Apple has to offer with its minimalist Silicone Case, and now it's time to go beyond the American giant's proprietary products and take a look at what Spigen has to say about protecting Spigen iPhone 6 and Spigen iPhone 6 Plus.
In particular, we will be interested in the most resistant of the company's cases - the insanely popular and relatively affordable covers from the Tough Armor and Slim Armor series, designed just for these two smartphones. If you're looking for something that will let you rest easy when your iPhone slips from your hand, the following in-depth review should make it significantly easier for you to make the right purchasing decision. So there's no point in putting it off - reviewing time to start!
Spigen iPhone 6 Case Tough Armor
If you've used the Spigen Tough Armor case for the previous iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, or even the iPad mini, then it won't be particularly challenging for you to get used to what the company has to offer this year for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. That's because we're still talking about the same dual-layer protection that we've come to know and largely love, only that it's now accompanied by a noticeably thinner profile to match the innovative, slim design of this year's Apple smartphones.
This also means that we should still expect the same level of reliable security with the only difference being that it now goes hand in hand with a slimmer design that fits better in the hand despite the larger dimensions of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
We've noticed that Spigen has marginally raised the retail price bar for most of the popular iPhone 6 cases on its website, however, you can still find them relatively cheaper where the company has to compete with extensive competition. While the Tough Armor case from Spigen for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus costs $35 on the company's official website, the same product - sold through Spigen at SPIGEN.pl store you will buy for less than 12 Euros.
The final price will also depend on the color you are interested in-i.e., some options are, of course, cheaper than others. Still, it certainly doesn't hurt to shop around a bit before making a purchase.
Spigen iPhone 6 Tough Armor case design
Tough Armor seems to be an eyesore for the company when it comes to protective cases. Why? If only because it offers the most comprehensive drop protection of all Spigen cases available. Also, its design focuses on slimness and sleekness without compromising on the quality of protection. Spigen is able to provide as much peace of mind as the thicker and less aesthetically pleasing brand OtterBox cases.
The shock-absorbing edges of the case form, in a sense, a hidden pocket of air designed to absorb the shock of the device colliding with the ground or other surface. This same functionality has been incorporated into the Slim Armor case, which is significantly slimmer and rounder compared to the distinctly angular style of the Tough Armor.
How is the Slim Armor case better than the Tough Armor?
Slim Armor case was created using the same dual-layer hard polycarbonate frame attached to a flexible and shock-absorbing TPU case. Nonetheless, it has to be said that this build is nevertheless able to accentuate the roundness of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, giving us that same familiar feeling of holding a sleek mobile device in your hand.
Seemingly everything promises to be beautiful, but there is one serious problem, and that is that the Slim Armor case slips out of your hands! It is much more difficult to control it than, for example, the Tough Armor and that is why we much prefer the angular shape of the latter, even if it would be at the expense of visual impression. If you own an iPhone 6 Plus, we strongly advise against buying the Slim Armor case, as it will make using the phone with one hand practically impossible.
Spigen Slim Armor and Tough Armor Case Comparison
Spigen has gone a step further with its Tough Armor and Slim Armor cases for the iPhone 6 Plus, offering a specially designed, built-in foot in the package. And for good reason. We all know full well that with a large display - like the one boasted by the iPhone 6 Plus, the largest of all Apple smartphones to date - users consume gigabytes of online content every day.
Therefore, viewing content such as movies or YouTube videos on such a sizeable piece of equipment requires additional help in the form of a stand, preferably one that can be quickly pulled out and built into the back of a highly reliable case, such as the one that Spigen encourages us to buy.
Both the Tough Armor and Slim Armor feature a foot that doesn't get in the way of everyday use and does a great job of balancing the case and Phone 6 Plus surprisingly effectively despite giving the impression of being nothing more than a smoothed out piece of plastic that doesn't even have a locking system when removed. And while it's true that we'll have to live with that plastic feel to the touch, visually the foot could pass for aluminum without much problem. The bottom line is that the entire mechanism works simply and smoothly, and it doesn't make any glaring noises when you're not using the foot.
The foot doesn't have an angular adjustment, nevertheless, there's nothing stopping you from adjusting it a bit on a lower hover, depending on how close you are to the device. In a nutshell: the built-in stand with a fair amount of say fulfills the purposes intended for it, but we don't want to believe that Spigen couldn't have put a little more effort into the build quality of this piece of plastic. On the one hand, it's a shame, on the other hand - no tragedy...
Spigen Cases design: Slim Armor vs Tough Armor
When we talk about the finish of the case, the Tough Armor is available in three different types of hard plastic finishes, depending on the color we're going for. Choosing gunmetal, satin silver, or electric blue will get a relatively slick metallic finish, while the other colors have a more solid hue.
The black Tough Armor case is the only variant that has a center section made of hard polycarbonate topped with a matte, soft-touch layer that gives the cover a bit more grip compared to the rest of the colors. That the balance in the universe is not disturbed, however, it comes at the expense of fingerprint marks, which the black Tough Armor seems to have a weakness for. So it's worth keeping this fact in mind when choosing a Tough Armor case color for our iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
By comparison: the Slim Armor case reviewed in this article has a smooth, pearl-like finish that's slightly glossy and not rubbery. None of the cases we've come to review are conducive to grip in terms of texture, but they're still not as likely to slip out of our hands as a bare aluminum iPhone case. It's a shame that the Slim Armor isn't offered in the same soft-touch, rubbery black finish as the Tough Armor case. This makes less sense because of the two models we are considering, it is the one that feels worse in the hand!
The attention to detail that Spigen is known for makes the Tough Armor case a very nice and user-friendly product. If the full-length squared edges weren't enough for us, you should know that the Tough Armor's neatly fitted contour line surrounding our iPhone creates its own kind of protective perimeter that keeps the touchscreen from touching the surface, but at the same time doesn't compromise our comfort as users.
Since the depletion process was, to say the least, extensive, the Tough Armor case for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has a 0.6mm bulge on the front of the smartphone case compared to as much as 1.5mm of Tough Armor for the 5s and 5s versions of the iPhone. The same reduction met the thickness of the cover if one were to compare it to last year's model designed for the fifth edition of Apple's flagship phone.
This means that the Tough Armor and Slim Armor will protect the most popular tempered glass screens when in contact with a flat surface when dropped or when the iPhone is intentionally placed with the screen down on a table or desk. However, it's worth noting in doing so that Spigen's ultra-thin 4mm GLAS.tR Slim glass theoretically leaves 0.2mm of space for display protection when used with the Tough Armor case.
It's clear that no matter how well-designed the case surround is, all it takes is a small pebble or gravel and your iPhone could crack or be damaged when dropped suitably unlucky in such a setting. Despite this skepticism on our part, we have to say that the Tough Armor seems to be up to the task of protecting your phone from drops. What more could you want from a protective case that has this as its main objective.
Functionality of Tough Armor case for iPhone 6
The fact is that the regular version of the Tough Armor case for the iPhone 6 doesn't include a built-in stand as the Plus version does, but that still doesn't mean we don't have any alternatives if we're looking for similar functionality in our iPhone 5. The Tough Armor S, also from Spigen of course, is a case created specifically with the iPhone 6 in mind, featuring a shallow entry on the back that allows us to use a regular bank card or other similar plastic card as a makeshift stand.
What's more - the manufacturer itself includes such an accessory in the package with the case, so you don't even have to bother with your own card! The Tough Armor S is very much a Tough Armor case, only with an opening to create your own stand on the back. Other than that, it offers exactly the same protective features as the regular Tough Armor case; it's also priced the same.
Exactly how do you make your own makeshift leg? Very simple. Just slide the end of the card into the hole located at the back of the case and voila! As with the Tough Armor case for the iPhone 6 Plus, we can work out two different viewing angles here, which roughly overlap in both cases. For the iPhone 6 we have another option to choose from, namely the Slim Armor S case having exactly the same 'card' functionality". Ironically, we get the impression that the Tough Armor series provides a better overall holding experience.
The foot is stable enough on a flat surface to the point that we won't really be able to tell the difference between the built-in foot of the Tough Armor case for iPhone 6 Plus and the makeshift one. Let's not forget, however, that at the moment when we want to move or change the position of the phone, the card in the latter variant will necessarily fall out of the compartment, which is extremely shallow. So we do not have here as much comfort and freedom as in the case of the version for iPhone 6 Plus, but there is nothing to complain considering the price tag.
Disadvantages of Tough Armor case iPhone 6
Of course, the biggest gripe with the Tough Armor S case is the need to carry the Spigen support card separately with us, as it doesn't fit inside the opening when we're not using it. It is known that we can always rely on our own bank cards and other cards that we are used to carrying with us in our wallet, nevertheless, the fact remains - this is kind of a hindrance.
On the left side we have a very narrow opening for the mute button, which will require a bit of a fingernail or very delicate hand fingers to get through. Lower down we have the covered volume buttons, which however are not as tactile and easy to press as they were in last year's iPhone 5s case. The same kind of covered sleep/power button can be found on the right side.
Overall, it takes a bit of energy investment to properly press the integrated buttons on the Tough Armor case, but on the other hand, it's nothing that would completely deter us from buying this product.
Construction of Spigen Slim Armor
Looking at the skinnier of the two cases we're interested in today, the built-in control buttons on the Slim Armor have a very similar tactile feel pushing through the TPU material, except for their different design to match the round shape of the Slim Armor, which is simply straighter and smoother than the slightly brassier design of the Tough Armor case.
Spigen didn't play games when creating the bottom port, speaker, and microphone/headphone inputs on the Tough Armor case. Despite giving the impression of a tight fit, the opening for the Lightning connector is large enough to accommodate almost any connecting cable, regardless of its source of purchase. These cases will allow us to seamlessly place the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus on compatible charging docks with an adjustable Lightning connector adapter such as the HiRise dock stand from Twelve South.
I'm also glad that you can plug in any simple, L-shaped headphone cable with 3.5mm jack through the headphone cutout offered by Tough Armor and Slim Armor cases. Even my Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones fit in it, but surely there is an exception to every rule, so don't be angry if your headphones don't get this kind of blessing.
As we expected, the pill-shaped opening for the rear camera in these cases was actually sized so as not to get in the way of the dual LED True Tone flash.
It's hard to guess how Spigen's offering will fare against a case like the Otterbox Defender, for example, but what you won't see right off the bat is a reinforced internal TPU cover for the edges. Spigen calls this air hole technology, which essentially involves leaving a sort of airbag that will act as a bumper upon impact, absorbing the shock before the negative effect of that reaction injures our iPhone.
Given that the edges are the most susceptible to first contact with the surface in a fall, we're glad that Spigen chooses to pay so much attention to them and ensure that this cover doesn't damage its reputation as the elite in protective cases for mobile devices.
Tough Armor ergonomic design
Spigen has appropriately gone to a lot of trouble in the construction here to convey a feeling of comfort with tapered edges and quality materials that provide a fair amount of grip and a relatively nice feel to the touch. Looking from the side, the Tough Armor is even more noticeably thinner than the UAG Composite case from Urban Armor Gear and features a more straightforward, symmetrical profile. You can easily type on the iPhone 6 Plus with one hand without fear of the phone slipping out of your hand.
And even if it did, Tough Armor makes sure that nothing happens to it in such an event. The same goes, of course, for the Tough Armor version for the regular iPhone 6, which is even more comfortable to wear due to its size.
The Tough Armor and Slim Armor are actually two-piece cases treated as one-piece cases once they are placed on the iPhone. This means, more or less, that the polycarbonate frame can be pulled off and replaced with a different colored frame, available separately for purchase from Spigen. Since the product (as well as the Tough Armor and Slim Armor) doesn't consist of any smaller parts, simply dressing our iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in it doesn't involve much effort - if any. When doing so, however, we should always start the process of "dressing" the phone by fitting the button holes.
Pulling an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus out of its case is also a piece of cake and you'll find that it's much easier to simply push the phone out of its shell with the help of a round logo representing a bitten apple. If you're stubborn, you can also achieve the same thing by pushing the device out using the buttons as a reference point - it's really a matter of taste and habit, because the effect is the same.
What do the Spigen Tough Armor and Slim Armor cases have in common?
Like previous editions, inside the Tough Armor and Slim Armor cases is what the manufacturer calls a spider web-like TPU layer, which is meant to provide extra protection against dropping and regulating airflow in the back of its case, keeping the iPhone's temperature relatively lower than other case models do.
These are two things that we unfortunately have no way of checking and confirming - or denying, but either way we appreciate the efforts, regardless of the end result. Spigen promises that the TPU used in the Tough Armor case won't stretch over time, and we have to admit that you can see right away that the lower and upper parts of the Tough Armor are absolutely solid and have no chance of bending, kinking, or flexing under the pressure of the iPhone. Although the extreme parts of these elements are a little less refined and may bend under the pressure of your thumb, we don't think that this would compromise the safety of the iPhone in any significant way.
As you might have guessed, no protective layer for the Apple logo is included, as the Tough Armor has an opening for the logo that exposes a section of aluminum. However, it is unlikely that such a thing would further expose our iPhone to scratches within the metal Apple logo.
Which phone case to choose?
If we're not smiling about spending money on the rather clunky Tough Armor case, we can always invest in the Slim Armor. This is the same dual-layer hybrid cover offering the same level of protection, except that it has removed the raised back edges that keep the hard polycarbonate scratch-free. Also, the buttons are not as well defined as they are in the Tough Armor case.
The Slim Armor even includes the same circular cutout for the Apple logo on the back, taking into account the identical seemingly metal (but actually plastic) two-tiered foot that we find on the Tough Armor model for the iPhone 6 Plus. The Slim Armor is, as you can easily guess, a slimmer case with a smoothed black finish on the front of the device instead of the matte TPU material that the Tough Armor relies on.
And while the Slim Armor for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus requires less craftsmanship when holding it in your hand, we have to say that it's not the most ergonomic case under the sun. The grip here is poor, and the rounded edges don't offer the same user comfort as the flattened corners of the Tough Armor. The case is at its worst when we decide to apply the Slim Armor to the iPhone 6 Plus. On the other hand, a slightly more rounded design of this case may appeal to some people more, so it is also worth keeping aesthetics in mind. Tough Armor turns out to be one of the few really durable cases that are not burdened with unknown weight, which allows you to distinguish this Spigen product from other less refined solutions offered on the market. What we get here is comfort of use and safety without excessive weight, and in addition the case is very pleasing to the eye and to the hands. All in all, the Tough Armor guarantees an extremely high level of protection against external factors with its proven dual-layer hybrid construction and air-filled edges. Spigen manages to accomplish all of this without making its product resistive - something that the engineers at OtterBox have failed to achieve. While this comes at the expense of good grip compared to Apple's Sillicone Case, at least we won't have to shed tears every time our iPhone rubs against any harder surface. As if that wasn't enough, also the price of Touogh Armor case and its slimmer counterpart, Slim Armor, is quite affordable. If you have such a worry, we also tell you that the iPhone cannot be bent under the cover of the Tough Armor or Slim Armor cases, so rest assured. There's really only one reason that might deter you from buying one of these products, and that's the cutout for the Apple logo. With the exception of this - in our opinion at least - shortcoming, the Tough Armor won't let you down in protecting your smartphone from unplanned drops, bumps and scratches. We're talking about something that is, at this point, one of the best possible options for protecting your iPhone 6 Plus that won't turn it into a clunky and impractical-to-use machine along the way. Let's have no illusions, though: it's clear that Tough Armor will increase the dimensions of our iPhone quite significantly. However, it is the so-called necessary evil without which it will be hard for us to ensure the safety of the mobile companion of our daily adventures.
However, that doesn't change the fact that the Tough Armor remains a relatively thin case considering the protection it offers. If that's not enough, consider the Slim Armor case or even the even more elegantly designed Neo Hybrid model, which are solid alternatives for those who prefer to blow their cover. If, on the other hand, you're an iPhone 6 Plus owner, we strongly recommend that you arm yourself with a Tough Armor case due to the practicality of using your phone under this cover. The thin sides make the Tough Armor fit better in your hand, and we also appreciate the similarity it bears to the iPhone 5. While we like that the Tough Armor for the Plus version has a built-in foot/stand, the material used isn't particularly optimistic, which translates to some disappointment. Still, the stand does its job and proves to be an extremely useful feature for any iPhone 6 Plus user.