G-Form definitely has one of the most interesting histories of any iPhone case manufacturer I’ve ever seen. The Rhode Island-based firm began by producing accessories for athletes instead of electronics.

The company became well known for selling knee pads, elbow pads, crash shorts, and other products for extreme sports. But seeing that the same protection could easily transfer over to iOS devices, G-Form has been producing cases for both the iPhone and iPad.

One of the company’s newest iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 cases, the Extreme Grid, promises to momentarily stiffen and absorb up to 90 percent of the force from an impact and then return to its natural, flexible state.

The impact protection is provided by a composite blend of Poron XRD material and proprietary G-Form materials and technology.

And to put a real-world spin on exactly what the case can absorb, the Extreme Grid was tortured tested on an ice hockey rink. In a video, iPhones with the Extreme Grid and X-Protect cases survived a rapid-fire shootout against NHL goalie Tim Thomas. Click here if you can’t see the video.

The Good

Unlike other rugged cases, the Extreme Grid is very slim and lightweight. The side and back of the case are completely covered by soft, protective squares made up of the company’s impact technology material. The inside of the case is very soft and definitely shouldn’t scratch your iPhone.

A tactile button covers the power switch. And there are ample cutouts for the headphone jack, speakers, ringer switch, volume buttons, dock connector, camera lens, and flash.

In my use, the case was also very easy to hold onto and grasp. I didn’t get to do any extreme testing like in the video, but I felt like the Extreme Grid did a nice job protecting my iPhone in day-to-day use.

The Bad

While the Extreme Grid’s weight is unique among rugged cases, there are also some normal tradeoffs. Because the protective material does stick out from the case, I was unable to dock my iPhone in a slate of accessories.

That’s not exactly a surprise for this type of case, but the Extreme Grid makes up for it by being enormously easy to slip on and off. With the soft, flexible material, it only took me a matter of seconds to apply or remove the case.

The case also does not come with any type of screen protection, which could be a plus or minus depending on your feelings about the issue. I usually prefer no screen protection, so it definitely wasn’t a problem for me.

I’d also like to see the front border of the case extend a little further so I could put my iPhone facedown if necessary without worrying about scratching the screen.

Verdict

Even though it seems like a contradiction, G-Form’s solution does a really nice job of providing lightweight, rugged protection for your iPhone.

If you’re looking for a traditional protective case with the usual set of features, the Extreme Grid may not be for you. But if you want to add an extra layer of protection that offers a unique style and slim form factor for a reasonable price, the case is a great option.

The Extreme Grid case lists for $39.99 and can be purchased directly from G-Form. Beyond black, the case is available in ice, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, pink, and white.