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Review: LifeProof iPhone Case - Water Proof / Shock Proof iPhone Case

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Protecting our device is at the top of every iPhone owners list. With the dual glass screens, water sensors in the top bottom and middle, it's critical to keep it from any shocks or wetness. Well, LifeProof has come up with a solution for those that want to keep the slim stylings of the iPhone and still keep their high dollar device protected.

To get the benefit of the LifeProof, you have to put a little work in yourself. This isn't your typical case that you just slap the phone in and go. No, you need to learn about this case by watching some installation videos, doing a water test, check all of the ports for water tightness. I found the video instructions to be the best way to go, chiefly because they have a little bit of humor in them, and aren't just dry tech support vids. There is even a specifc way to snap the case together and apart (BTW, that  isn't meant to be done too often).

When I followed the directions for the water test, my first unit kept failing. I checked with LifeProof tech support and they gave me some alternate directions, but in the end it still didn't pass (see image below with condensation), so I simply decided to ask them for a replacement unit. This one worked.

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LifeProof touts that they are shock proof, waterproof, dirt proof, and snow proof. Pretty cool, eh? Take out the LifeProof case while you are snowboarding, mountain biking, or even lounging on the beach. The styling of the case makes it easy to do. The case is just a bit thicker than the iPhone itself, so it is  fairly thin and durable. To keep it waterproof you snap the case together, and then snap the dock port closed and then screw in the headphone jack dongle which seals off the port and will keep out any moisture from the phone. You plug in your earbuds into the end of the dongle — so if you plan on swimming with this case, your standard iPhone earbuds won't be your go-to item.  For times when you don't need the earbuds, it has a tiny screw in rubber grommet that will go into your iPhone's audio jack. They provide you with two — as you will lose one. Or two. This is just fine for someone who uses the iPhone as just a phone, but can quickly become a hassle if you want to switch back and forth between the headphones and just carrying it around in your pocket as a phone. This was the case for me — I didn't want the dongle all of the time, but found I needed it, but it was a hassle to switch back and forth. Ultimately, I just went with the audio jack unprotected — which pretty much eliminates the 'waterproof' aspect.

Overall I really enjoyed this case - with one MAJOR exception. The case has an integrated plastic screen, which is needed to keep your iPhone waterproof. However, the screen bowes out form the actual iPhone glass, so every time you touch the screen you feel the plastic on top of the glass, and it even makes a tapping sound. At first I thought it was just me — but I let a friend test the case, and they came to the same conclusion — it's quite annoying.  I'm hoping LifeProof will fix this in the next iteration of the case. Other major competitors don't have this issue, and I think that they definitely need to fix this issue. Ok, rant over…

The sound quality of the case was 50/50.  50% of the time it was fine, and the other 50% I felt like I could hear some distortion or reverb, which was simply the screen that lets audio pass through. The only way I can explain it is that it sounds like have blown the speaker on your phone. You can blow on it and then it's back to normal, but it did tend to happen a little more frequently that I liked. I had no complaints from folks on the other end of the conversation, so I assume they heard me just fine. The LifeProof case can actually make your iPhone sound a bit louder when using the external speaker. The space can add some extra 'bass' and reverb to the speakers, so it's almost like cupping the bottom of the phone in your hand, and it seems a bit louder.

For peace of mind, you really can't beat the LifeProof case — they put these to the test, and by the praise I see them getting online, it must be true. I didn't have any snow to test mine with, but I was able to take my iPhone and drop it 3 feet, wash it off in the sink (under running hot water) and my iPhone showed no signs of problems.  During my testing period I found myself treating my iPhone a little more 'rough'. Tossing it here and there, not caring if it was always out of harms way, etc. I felt secure enough with the LifeProof case that if I was a *little* rough it would be just fine. The LifeProof case isn't indestructible, so don't go crazy by driving over it to test the rugged durability. It's not designed for that — it's designed for active people that want to keep their $300 phone safe during these activities. If you want the full details on what can be expected should something go wrong, you definitely want to check out the warranty.

 

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Conclusion:

With a $79 price point, it's certainly one of the more expensive cases. However, one trip to the Apple Store to replace your broken iPhone is double that price and then some. If you have an active outdoor lifestyle, or just an average user that wants piece of mind that their device is safe from water damage or other contaminants, then the LifeProof is for you.

Pros:

  • Slim Design
  • Sealed ports to eliminate water entry

Cons:

  • Touch Screen isn't flush with iPhone
  • Pricey

 

Product: LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case

Price: $79.99

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