Protecting my iPhone was a high priority for me. I needed to get a protective case that would work for me while hunting and I wouldn't settle for a run-of-the-mill case from a department store. In researching the best on the market I found LifeProof. The description of the case and the videos on their website give some great information. The LifeProof case is described as being water proof, dirt proof, snow proof and shock proof. Sounded like this was right up my alley! After describing to LifeProof my concerns for my phone and how I would be using it while in the outdoors, they sent me one of their cases to review so I could see for myself. Sorry Android users, LifeProof currently only makes a case for the iPhone and iPad.
Some pertinent product features from the LifeProof website:
Protects against everyday hazards—full IP-68 rating against water and dust, and designed to Military Specifications
High degree of shock and impact protection—tested to Military Specifications MIL-STD-810F-516.5 (2 meters/6.6ft drop on all surfaces and edges. 26 tests)
Fully sealed protection against minute dust particles
Includes bonus General User Headphone Adapter and Keeper for headphone jack cover
Ability to swim and take underwater (2 meters/6.6ft depth).
Weighs less than an ounce (28g).
Unique combination of materials that will not stick to your pocket
Double AR-coated optical glass lenses provide unprecedented crystal-clear photo and video quality
First impressions were that the case was very thin, sleek and looked pretty cool. Solid construction and the instructions were laid out well. Note: I did not test this in the snow, but I did use it in the heat and in wet conditions.
The first order of business was to complete the water test. This is described in the instructions. Basically, you put the case together, sans iPhone, and submerge it in water for an hour or more. The purpose if to be 100% certain there are no leaks and you can put the case together properly. I completed the test successfully and was very happy with the results. No water seepage and it was easy to assemble and disassemble the case. On the disassembly, I was a little concerned when prying open the case with a penny as it bent up the corner slightly. The instructions advise you to take care as to not pry too much or too hard as it will cause a gap. For me this was a fine line, so I definitely advise you to take care when doing this. Although I took great care, I felt that I came very close to having the corner pop open and having a gap remain.
Once the water test was complete I placed my phone in the case and locked it shut. You definitely know when the case is shut properly as it not only makes a 'clicking' sound, but you can also feel and see it as it locks into place. I set out to verify that all of the buttons worked with the case on and they did. I then had to test out the waterproofing again. Sure, I was taking a risk, but if I am in the backcountry or just fishing and drop my phone in water or it gets wet, I want to be sure it's protected. Needless to say, the case protected my phone and it came out bone dry. Whew!
The clear window allows you to utilize the touchscreen on the phone, but you have to be sure to press slightly harder than normal. This can be a pain sometimes, but when I considered the protection the case offered it was soon forgotten. The clear window is shiny to a fault. I found this to be very annoying and bothersome to my eyes. If I was in the shade I had little issue, but in the sunlight or light of a lamp, I constantly had to adjust the angle to view what was onscreen. I contacted LifeProof and they said there is no current plan to make a non-glare screen, but that they would take it under advisement. When hunting, keep in mind that the screen could flash like a mirror if you are messing with your phone.
Dirt and sand are a constant here in Southern California. Whether I am headed to the beach or up in the foothills to hunt there is dust and dirt everywhere and there is always a breeze or stiff wind blowing. To test the case out, I set my phone in the sand at the beach and also next to me when scouting, but I didn't stop there. I actually covered it with dirt, moved it around in the dirt, and then picked it up and used it. It worked flawlessly and there was no dirt inside. I lightly rinsed the case with water and then checked the exposure points like the charging port. No dirt inside and it was grit free.
The headphone adapter is a separate part that comes with the case. If you want to use your headphones for working out or watching a video clip you have to use this accessory. It has an o-ring that seals it and protects it as the connection point of the case. The adapter works great and even has a spare screw-in plug in case you lose the one on the case itself. The adapter can be very bulky when you are running or exercising because it sticks out. When you run it bounces with you and pulls a bit. It worked well, but wasn't the best feeling as I had to keep mine in my pocket. I can't imagine I would have this issue when hunting because I won't be taking my headphones with me, but it did happen.
On a side-note with the headphone adapter (LifeProof also calls it a connector which makes it confusing) - mine has already disappeared, meaning I lost it. Now that I have lost it, I cannot use my headphones with the case. I HAVE to have that adapter/connector in order to utilize headphones. This was very discouraging as it would be nice to be able to use my headphones without it. Believe me, I understand why this is built like this, but it makes it difficult when you can't find a place to buy a spare connector from the LifeProof website. I was told by another LifeProof user that the adapters were in the store, but you had to search hard for them. I looked and looked and finally found them buried in Accessories>Connectors. As a current website usability tester and a former website designer, I am going to make a suggestion to LifeProof. Please make your website easier to find items. First off, there is no search to type your request in. Then, there are links to pages that have 3 or 4 or 5 items. Clicking over and over makes people crazy and less likely to shop. Try reducing the number of clicks and put more items in one locations... like Accessories and leave it at that. Make it simple. Long story-short, LifeProof does have them in the store, should you misplace or lose yours, like I did mine. They are also going above and beyond and sending me a replacement connector. Thank you, LifeProof.
The double AR-coated optical glass lenses do provide crystal-clear photos and video. I know on some cases the glass is constructed so the photos have bent edges or distortion. You won't find that with the LifeProof case. The glass is well-built and superior to anything I have tried out. The photo quality is exceptional and so is the video quality.
While this isn't a factor for the hunting world, the sound quality is rather good with this case, even with all areas being closed or covered. The back of the case also distributes the bass very well. You can actually feel it reverberate and it's being transmitted.
The LifeProof case is built with a plastic that does not stick inside your pockets when dry or wet. This is a great feature! I have tried other cases and almost every one of them was gummy or slightly tacky when trying to put in or take out of a pocket. The LifeProof is the very opposite. Even when I took it trail running, I left it in my pocket and at each half mile point I pulled it from my pocket with ease. As gross as you may find this, the seat was built up on the outside and the case was not sticky. Not once was the case gummy.
- Excellent protection from dirt, sand and water
- Solid construction
- Lens quality works great for photos and videos
- Reflective screen is very shiny and hard to keep clean
- Headphone adapter cord is bulky (especially when running)
- Can't plug in your headphones without adapter cord
- Sound quality is better when you open the bottom charging door. A minor inconvenience, but it was noticeable.
LifeProof offers a standard warranty of 90 days from purchase, but you can extend your warranty free of charge (up to a year) by viewing the instructions, registering, and completing the helpful operating checklist at www.lifeproof.com/support. It covers material or workmanship defects AND you must file a valid claim within the warranty period. LifeProof will replace the case only, not your iPhone. So be responsible!
At $79.99 the LifeProof case is not inexpensive, but it is also not cheap. You get what you pay for and this case is well-built and it will protect your phone in just about any element. I definitely recommend this case to anyone with an iPhone, regardless of hunting, fishing or just taking the kids to the beach. The LifeProof will most certainly be protecting my iPhone this hunting season.