As much as I hate to admit it, my phone is my lifeline to the outside world. Phone numbers, emails, contact info, photos… We all depend so much on these fragile little computers, that if/when they break, we kick ourselves for not buying phone insurance and instead try to con the phone company into giving us a new device because of a “manufacturing issue.” (“Oh, I don’t know how that happened. It just stopped working. Yeah, I swear.”)
A reliable case is essential for any smart phone these days, but not all of them are treated equally – especially when it comes to playing in the outdoors.
LifeProof, however, is out to change that, with its line of phone and tablet cases that stand up to the rigors of an active lifestyle. The entire case is built to be waterproof, dirtproof, snowproof and shockproof, and LifeProof seems to have pegged their customers as adventurous and accident-prone. And for this outdoor girl, that’s not too far off.
Upon first inspection, the LifeProof iPhone 4 case had me concerned. I’ve never been one to follow manuals, but LifeProof’s step-by-step instructions were intimidating enough to make me triple check my process. True, it’s really not that difficult, but in order to ensure a fully waterproof seal, it is essential to go slow, snap every piece into place and perform the necessary submersion test before you’re good to go.
For such a little piece of equipment, this case has a lot going on. Adding a scant 1.5mm of thickness to my phone, LifeProof throws in an integrated screen protector, a pro photography-quality camera lens cover, a waterproof cap for the headphone port, a waterproof flap for the charging port and Gore-Tex speakers that pump out sound without pulling in water. Every model of LifeProof’s cases also claim to be waterproof and shockproof up to 6.6 feet (2 meters). Call me cautious, but I plan on testing those claims purely by accident. So while my phone hasn’t gone for a swim or taken a nosedive yet, it’s reassuring to know I have a cheap insurance plan if that, indeed, happens.
Perhaps the most “technical” part about this phone case is the headphone port. If you plan on rocking out to some tunes, you’ll need to attach the included weather-resistant headphone adapter to make it compatible with your headphones. But forget to bring the adapter, and you’re SOL. Non-Apple headphone plugs are too large to fit through the LifeProof port.
Of course, if you forget the adapter, you can always jam out with your speakers. LifeProof claims the case acts as a sub-woofer and amplifies the bass and mid-frequency range of your music in speaker mode, but I didn’t find that to be quite accurate. While music does sound crisp, the volume and bass seem to be on the low side — a downside that I’ve also noticed while being on the receiving end of a phone call. Nevertheless, for as much bang as this case offers and the numerous treks I take in the outdoors, it’s a compromise I’m willing to make.
One other note about music: if you use a docking station, you’ll need to purchase a docking station adapter separately, as the LifeProof case does not fit.
LifeProof cases and plenty of accessories (including a flotation device, an armband/swimband, a bike/bar mount, a GoPro mount, a cycling odometer, a camera dolly and more) are available in many colors for iPhone 4, 4S, 5; iPad Gen 2, 3, 4; iPod Touch Gen 4; and Galaxy S III. For more information on LifeProof or to purchase a case, visit www.lifeproof.com.