Sometimes a product is so perfectly named that it describes the purpose, function, and features of the product in a simple word. A “LifeProof” case is one of these products.
I am one of the late-comers to the smartphone revolution. Up until earlier this year I was rocking a 90’s style flip-phone. You know, the one with the giant “elderly friendly” buttons on it? (Yeah, seriously.) Because of my active and diverse lifestyle, and slightly clumsy disposition, I’m not a fan of delicate products – especially products that also happen to be wildly expensive. So when I decided to finally join the 21st Century and get an iPhone, I knew that I had to find the best case available.
My research led me to the LifeProof case for the iPhone 5. The LifeProof case fully-encloses the iPhone in a water-proof, dirt-proof, shock-proof enclosure. The LifeProof doesn’t just arbitrarily claim to protect your iPhone, it proves its ability to do so by passing rigorous, standardized testing.
The 6.6’/2m “shock proof” claim comes from the fact that the LifeProof case has passed the MIL STD 810F-516 standard – “This standard requires that the item can physically and functionally withstand the relatively infrequent, non-repetitive shocks encountered in handling, transportation, and service environments.”
The waterproof and dustproof claims are supported by the most rigorous testing of the critera, the IP-68. This test has proven that the LifeProof case can be submerged at a water depth 6.6’/2m for an hour. Not only does LifeProof test their design concept, they actually test every single case they make, before it reaches a consumer’s hands.
What I Like
Okay, so those are some of the selling points, but what’s a “real world” perspective on the LifeProof case?
I haven’t been scuba diving with my case, or put it through some arbitrary torture test (although hundreds of YouTube videos show just that). My testing has been simple – live my normal, active lifestyle, and don’t “baby” my phone. My LifeProof-protected iPhone 5 has been dropped, kicked, stepped on, accidentally been left in my muddy yard while being pummeled by the sprinkler, been in my pocket for a soaking-wet ride at the amusement park, been used while my hands have been covered in dirt and mud from working on landscaping projects, etc. And potentially most impressive, my phone has managed to survive sharing a home with one of the craziest and aggressive monsters that I know – my 1.5-year-old son.
I love that my LifeProof case has survived all of this, and provides this level of protection, all while maintaining a very sleek profile. The LifeProof case weighs just over 1 ounce, and adds hardly any bulk to the iPhone 5. The LifeProof case, although it offers much more protection than its competitors, has a much slimmer profile than, for example, an Otterbox Defender.
Be Aware Of
At first I was concerned how usable this phone could be. After all, to be fully sealed and fully whatever-life-throws-at-you-proof, doesn’t that mean that the speakers, microphone, headphone jack, and buttons are all covered? How would that work?
Yes, the max output of the speaker is somewhat diminished (but still offers plenty of volume); and yes, the buttons are fully covered (but they still work well); and yes, the screen protector shows some glare (but only when the screen isn’t on); and yes, the headphone jack and lightning connector are covered (but both are easily accessible); and yes, the “sexiness” of the iPhone’s styling is somewhat lost in the utility of this case – but if you care more about performance than you do “style”, then the trivial tradeoffs are well worth the protection that the LifeProof provides.
As great as the case is on its own, I have also been equally impressed by the accessories that LifeProof offers. I have used the belt-clip quite a bit, and it is perfect for strapping to my pack for a long hike, or even wearing for everyday use. The case fits in the clip perfect, and there’s even a lock to ensure that your phone will never fall out. The bike and bar mount would be great for mountain bikers or motorcycle riders, and the armband would obviously be a welcome addition for bringing the LifeProof along for a run. They even offer a suction-cup mount for your car, and a “life jacket” so that your phone will always float if you drop it while fishing or boating.
I was drawn to the LifeProof case because of its durability and the protection that it provides, but I had serious concerns about the how it might negatively affect the usability of the phone. I figured that I might use the case when I really needed it (during hunting season, for a weekend camping trip, or for trips to the lake), but as it turns out, I put the case on my phone from day one and have never even thought about taking it off. It has already saved me more than once, and the everyday usability of the phone is great. In my opinion, if you want to protect your smartphone, then a LifeProof case is the case to have.