Most hard/soft combo cases for iPhones that we've seen so far have the "hard" part on the inside and the "soft" on the outside. Ballistic's Shell Gel (SG) series case flips the equation: the soft polymer bumper case goes on first, then the hard, impact-resistant polycarbonate snaps on for side/back reinforcement. The result is a protection system that's less bulky than Ballistic's Hard Core series — and easier to put your iPhone into AND take out of than the average hardshell case. Oversized corners on the bumper provide extra shock absorption, while a deep-lip "lay on table" design protects your phone's screen even if it lands face-first.
The SG is available with black, red, white, or pink shells (the bumper, regretably, only comes in basic black) and will set you back US$14.99 for the AT&T-only version; for US$34.99, Ballistic'll sell you a "dual-mode" SG that protects both Death Star and Verizon iPhones. Either way, the SG's all-around protection and ease of installation make this a solid performer.
Check out our hands-on review below: