Lifeproof iPhone case
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Well, I like to look after my iPhone. Of course, some people like their iPhones to stay naked and shiny as they were born, but my friend whose nice, shiny, pristine, gleaming and therefore slippery iPhone slipped out of his breast pocket into the toilet into which he had just presented his, er, visitations, let’s say, put me off that malarky. I prefer a case that gives me a little non-slip. And there are various cases available from stylish to verging on bullet proof.
Almost any case will give a lot of scratch, and at least a little shock, protection – this case promises more: waterproof, dustproof – it’s even snow-proof.
This kind of protection doesn’t come from just snapping a case on or slipping an iPhone into something. The LifeProof requires watching videos
about how to install it properly, with the recommendation that you follow carefully – and I concur.
It’s worth looking at even if you don't have one, to get an idea of what the case is capable of.
Just to underscore this requirement, a bright orange Caution sticker on the back of the case-back reiterates this and advises to (and how to) water test the case before installing your iPhone into it. The case comes with a back and front face to the case, a screw-in (hence waterproof) and gold-plated earphone adapter so you can use your own headphones, as everything seals up completely.
The case means the buttons are pushed via raised duplicates on the case itself, yet somehow sound can still emanate from the case (with a slight added bass claimed) and the microphone still works, even though you can literally use the phone underwater once safely in the case down to two metres, so it’s more than just rain and splash proof.
There's also a screw-on cap to waterproof the earbud port if you're using it without earbuds. But I don't even want to think about diving under the water after forgetting to put that on! (There's a spare included as well, along with a cleaning cloth to make everything hair and dust-free before you put the case together.)
I have to admit, being winter and all, I didn’t actually go for a swim with it, and I don’t believe you can actually make calls while under the sea. Not that I tried that.
The membranes around the mic and speaker shouldn’t be poked, by the way, and there’s a charge-port door that seals shut too, and all these flaps and things should make you freak out that there’s no way this thing can stay waterproof but by coincidence I noticed a client had the very same case and she’d just come back from the Cook Islands, and confirmed it did keep her iPhone safe under water.
You do need to know that to shoot videos under water you need to get it shooting before you go under – the touch screen doesn’t react once submerged.
It’s constantly reiterated in the instructional videos that the case has to be cared for and everything installed properly and checked – this is because, compared to rugged cases like the Gorilla, the Lifeproof tries to be as sleek as possible, but it’s enough to make you a bit paranoid.
The membranes mean you have to remove and protective film you may have put on your screen, to ensure the touch screen works OK through the membrane on the front of the case. It’s shockproof but that doesn’t mean you should be throwing your iPhone around.
The membrane over the camera is optical, coated glass for optimum quality, and if any of these get damaged you can order replacement components from the Lifeproof site.
In use (above water) the fact that the main screen cover can bow slightly away from the screen means it’s not quite as touch-handy as the naked iPhone screen, and a video notes this and says you can smooth it out … but I wasn’t successful at this, and just got used to being a bit more positive with my touches.
The side buttons need a more positive press than before, and with the case all snapped shut, the sound through the speaker is slightly muffled and less crisp. Lifepoof claims this is because they developed a back case material that acts like a subwoofer. I’s true there’s more bass (just opening the charge port makes the difference quite obvious) but my jury’s out on that one, but I hardly ever listen to my iPhone without headphones or earbuds.
For use as a phone, however, the speaker by your ear seems to work perfectly.
I did water-test the case before putting the phone in, since I often cycle in the Auckland’s delightfully persisting rain and worry constantly it will be damaged by rain. It passed – the videos suggest you do this before putting your iPhone into it.
Conclusion — A valiant attempt at an element-proof case that doesn't bulk up too much in your pocket
What’s great — Used properly, it really is waterproof and the iPhone's controls, speakers and mic all keep working
What’s not — You have to use this carefully for consistently water-tight protection, as it trades off slim lines for grungy-style strength
Needs — Someone who doesn’t want a clunky great case but still needs a waterproof iPhone, willing to take the care to make sure it works
LifeProof anti-dust/snow/water case for iPhone, RRP NZ $89.95, available to buy in some shops and online
System — iPhone 4 and 4S – but you really have to install carefully, follow instructions and watch the videos.