Gear Review – The LifeProof Case for the iPhone 5

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.

LifeProof in Mud

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.

LifeProof Overview

LifeProof - Front View

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.

Learn more about LifeProof’s testing standards…

What I Like

Okay, so those are some of the selling points, but what’s a “real world” perspective on the LifeProof case?

LifeProof Case - Rear

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.

Thickness - LifeProof vs. Otterbox

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.

LifeProof Case - Bottom Connectors

Accessories

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.

LifeProof Case Accessories

Conclusion

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.

LifeProof Case - Back Logo
The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • Marcelle McGhee

    Do you prefer to OtterBox?

    • SoleAdventure

      Yeah, I prefer the LifeProof over the OtterBox. My wife has the OB, and it is a nice case, but the LP is noticeably thinner, and obviously provides more protection. OB is coming out with (or did just come out with) a fully waterproof case, but it doesn’t look nearly as usable or svelte as the LifeProof.

  • The FlyFishing Bowhunter

    I had the lifeproof case for a little over a year. I loved it. It did muffle the sound noticeably when talking to people on my end. It was hard to hear at times, and it wasn’t just me, but most everyone who used it. I had it on my iPhone 4s. I also had the OtterBox Defender. While I think that case offers better protection from drops….the Lifeproof kicked butt because it was waterproof….AND…very slim compared to the Defender. If I was to upgrade to a new phone, and needed to buy a case….it would be hard for me to pass up the Armor series by Otterbox. The case is a monster, but sooo easy to take on and off that it would be perfect for hunting/fishing and when you are done pop on a slim case for everyday. The thing about the lifeproof is that it is slim enough for everyday, but hard for me to get over the sound quality I got. That may have to do with the older iPhone I have, so I would still want to try out the Lifeproof on the new iPhone.

    Great choice though…..it is hard to go wrong with that case! Let us know how it last this hunting season! Mine seemed to weather the storms pretty well that I threw its way. What ended it’s life was taking in on and off a few to many times for various reasons….the seal finally tore…..sad day

  • 365Whitetail

    Thanks for the awesome review! If this case is “Mark” proof, I’m sold. : )

    • SoleAdventure

      That is saying something! (Just ask my wife.) LOL!