Taking your technology with you on a campout or hiking adventure is something that you can’t always avoid. While I like to unplug once in a while, I also have a hard time giving up my cell phone since I use it for GPS, hike/bike tracking, photos and a variety of other things. The bad news is that I’m pretty rough on my phones. I’ve had cell phones for more than 25 years and have had countless drops, spills, cracks just at home or the office not to mention out in the woods or on a job site. I’ve purchased just about every “rugged” case you can find. Most of them are bulky and add too much weight so I usually end up using a non-ruggedized case or no case at all.
LifeProof asked us to take a look at their LifeProof case for the iPhone 4/4S and after a quick look at the specs, I jumped at the chance to put their “LifeProof” claim to the test. Claiming to be Water, Dirt, Snow and Shock proof, the LifeProof case is also one of the lightest rugged cases at just over 1oz (1.05oz). Over the past 4 months I’ve been able to test the case in the snow, dirt, water and I’ll give you the short version up front – I’m really impressed with the case. There are a couple of things I wish were different but looking at it as a rugged case to protect my iPhone in just about any situation, I would recommend this case to anyone.
Cases for phones are a personal thing for most people. Color, look, and function are all part of the equation when choosing a phone case. For me, I need durability but I’d like something that looks good too. The LifeProof iPhone 4/4S case I’m testing is “Earth” color and while it looks great with a lot of my outdoor gear, I might be worried that it will blend in on the job site or if I dropped it on the trail. The good news is that LifeProof offers the iPhone 4/4S case in 8 different colors including the standard black or white.
As an everyday carry case, there are a few things I will point out that I didn’t care for. First the screen cover (thin plastic film built into the case front) is not as solid as some of the other ruggedized cases I’ve used. There is a noticeable gap between portions of the screen and screen cover that I could feel when trying to slide, swipe etc. I’m not sure this is an issue with just my unit but it was something my 15yr old son mentioned immediately when I let him play with the case. That being said, there is a price to pay for weight and other cases using glass are more than double or triple the weight of the LifeProof case. The minor annoyance was outweighed by the size and weight for me.
My other issue with the case is the audio patch cord and this is a big deal for me. I listen to music on my iPhone and iPad every day and having to put in a special adapter for my headphones is almost a deal-breaker for me. I understand the need for a water-tight seal but I have 10+ headphones I tried and none of them would work without the adapter. I purchased the LifeProof iPad2 case when I received the iPhone 4/4S case and it uses a slightly different adapter which made finding the right cord for each device a problem. I’m currently in the Yukon in a remote camp and left the adapter for my iPad2 at home so I’m stuck with either no headphones or I crack open the case which I’m sure diminishes the seal with every open/close. Luckily for me, I have a bluetooth speaker setup which allows me to use it on the job site.
There are two terms you’ll see listed with the LifeProof case: Mil-Spec (Military Specifications) and IP-68. In short, the Military Specification that the iPhone 4/4S case is designed to is for drop protection. It must withstand a functional drop. The other is for “ingress protection” which just means you want to keep stuff out. IP-68 is the most stringent level for this type of protection. You can read more about these on the LifeProof site (http://www.lifeproof.com/en/iphone/#specs)
The team at LifeProof obviously did some homework on what users want in a rugged case. Taking pictures are a top activity with smartphones these days and they included glass lens with anti-reflective coating to get the best possible pictures. The cover is non-stick so dirt and other materials won’t stick. The mic and speaker ports are all waterproof. These really are built to take a beating.
I also received a LifeJacket which is a foam enclosure that goes over your LifeProof iPhone 4/4S case to provide floatation. Bright orange in color with straps, it’s perfect for the pool or boat. Not much to say other than it works. $39.99 retail from www.lifeproof.com
What is the main reason for buying a case like the LifeProof? You want your phone to survive. To replace an iPhone off contract can be $300 to $500 and something as simple as a drop can permanently damage a phone. Why not spend some money to protect your investment? At $79.99 retail, the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S case is a small investment to ensure the survival of your phone. After a few weeks of use, the audio adapter for my iPad2 developed a short in the cord. I emailed LifeProof and they sent out a replacement right away which is a thumbs up for their customer service. Today alone, LifeProof earned its place in my “Must Have” collection, (even though I forgot the iPad2 audio adapter and can’t use my headphones). Our work site is a basically a mud pit and it rained all day. Covered in mud, my iPad2 still pounded out the tunes for the crew. LifeProof cases really are capable of taking a beating and the size/weight of the iPhone 4/4S case makes it one to consider for anyone working outdoors, camping, hiking, or simply wants to protect their iPhone.
Thumbs up from this WoodsMonkey for the iPhone 4/4S case.