The Ghostek Atomic 3 Series case is, overall, a solid phone case that provides adequate protection for your iPhone 7, albeit with a few design quirks that take some time to adjust to.
Like most heavy-duty cases, assembly is required, and Ghostek’s instructions are clear and easy to follow: I had no problem assembling this case and slotting my phone into it. The case looks better on the phone than it does in the packaging: it looks slick and has an aesthetic that works better if you choose a color that matches that of your iPhone. The buttons on the case are smaller than those on the iPhone, making it easier to hit the button with the function you’re looking for, and not mistakenly hit another (no more accidentally turning up your phone’s volume when you want to bring it down). The silent button slides itself into a knob that you turn to switch your sound on/off, instead of the switch that most phone cases slot in over the switch on your phone. This takes some time to adjust to (it’s sometimes confusing to remember which direction the knob needs to spin in order to silence/un-silence your phone), and is one of my gripes with the design of the case: because the knob is for an on-off switch, it can’t make a full rotation. This sounds like a weird complaint to have, but I could imagine someone accidentally breaking the knob because they applied too much force in the wrong direction. The case doesn’t feel fragile, per say, but plastic can only withstand so much punishment.
The case surrounds the home button with a line of hard plastic, presumably to further separate it from the ground if your dropped it, and it landed face-down: I say this, because I honestly can’t tell what the point of this additional apparatus is. The iPhone 7’s home button is not vulnerable to water being leaked in, and can’t break, as it’s effectively touch-enabled and only simulates a click when pressed on. The only other reason I can guess as to its inclusion is to provide some tactile feedback as to where your thumb is on the phone. It can be an aggravating inclusion if you plan to use your iPhone’s shortcut menu to turn on/off Bluetooth, wifi, airplane mode, your flashlight, or your calculator, because it covers up the bottom portion of the touchscreen above the home button. If you’re used to swiping up from the middle of your phone, you’re going to need to re-adjust. The last gripe that I have with the design is that the entrance to the lightning port is pretty small: your Apple’s lightning USB in no problem, but some bulkier third party ones won’t fit. As someone who uses third-party USBs in the car, it’s probably my biggest issue with the case. All of these problems with the design are relatively minor, however, and if you can look past all of them, you’re guaranteed to be getting an excellent case.
The case does add a fair bit of bulk to your phone, but if that’s not a problem for you (and if you’re looking for a heavy-duty case, it shouldn’t be something that bothers you) then this should be a non-factor. In terms of actual protection, it does the trick. The plastic covering the screen does a great job at both protecting it from scratches, and allowing your touches to go through without any additional force. The case is waterproof, adding another later of water protection to your already water-resistant iPhone 7 (with this case, water damage will surely be a non-issue). The mesh allows sound to come through clearly, both when talking on the phone and when listening through the stereo speakers: I noticed no difference in sound quality coming from the speakers after putting on the case. And, again, it does look pretty slick. It’s not obnoxious in its design like an OtterBox.
Regardless of some weird design decisions, I’m keeping this case on my phone. It doesn’t add a crazy amount of bulk, it looks nice, and I don’t have to worry about my phone dropping onto hard surfaces or into a large amount of water anymore. It’s a great alternative to OtterBox and Lifeproof: recommended.