I have always been in the pursuit of the perfect case for my electronic devices, and the LifeProof case for the iPhone 4/4S comes genuinely close at achieving that goal. I am not usually prone to accidents when it comes to my smartphones as I have always been very careful with them by making sure they are equipped with the best protective cases around. I do this because I want to ensure my electronic devices retain that brand new look and finish they had when I first took them out of the box. What can I say? I enjoy their original condition.
In the past I have used many protective cases for the iPhone 4, including the OtterBox Defender, the Ballistic Hard Core, and the Trident Kraken. Those specific cases and many more like them provide ample protection against shocks and drops to your device, but they offer little to no protection against submersion in mud, water, or sand. A case that could protect your device when those hazardous environments present themselves would be a great asset. However, the level of protection that many heavy duty cases provide has usually come at the expense of the size of the case itself. They are usually big and clunky and that can sometimes be the case before you even factor in a belt clip attachment. The LifeProof seems to have succeeded in the task of combining nearly 100% protection with a slim and sleek design for the price of $69.95, albeit there is no belt clip included.
The case is exactly 13mm in size, slightly larger than the 9.3mm width of the iPhone 4 without a case. That is just 4mm in additional width and given that this case is waterproof, I would have to say that is impressive. The exterior of the case has a non-stick rear shock absorbing cover. The case shell is made of a tough polycarbonate material along with a shock absorbing elastomer and this all helps to provide military grade IP-68 protection against water and dust. The depth of underwater submersion tolerance for this case is up to 2 meters or 6.6 ft. The camera and led of the iPhone 4 has a double coated anti-reflective lens to help with clear photo and video capture under the seas. All mics and speakers have waterproof acoustic vents, along with waterproof & dirt proof seals on the headset jacks and physical buttons. LifeProof cases have a motto called the “Four Proofs” which consists of Water Proof, Dust Proof, Snow Proof, and Shock Proof and the case seems to hold true to those proofs so far. The case comes with a 90 day warranty which can be extended to up to 1 year, provided that you register for it online and complete an online operating checklist. In addition to the standard black variant of the case, there are also pink and white options as well.
Now with all this good protection I have noticed a few small things I have disliked about the case. Firstly, the front of the screen has a type of scratch resistant waterproof screen protector which is built onto the case but has one downside. It leaves a layer of spacing between the screen and the protector which requires pressing down on the screen more physically then you would if the device were out of the case. This kind of screen protection is more perfected by other manufacturers. We have not yet established whether this spacing is deliberate or a defect as this is still a new case. I have also noticed that as I taken the case apart a few times, the bottom corners of the case where the 2 parts of the case connect have started to gap slightly. From what I can tell, this has not affected the water protection at all in any way. In fact the only reason I mention it here is because of the below warning that I read in the “reviewers guide” for the case:
“The LifeProof case was designed to protect the iPhone in daily use. Therefore, it should only be taken off infrequently. It has very precise latches, and the back of the case has a lifetime of approximately 50 opens and closes.”
Those statistics are not very good for your average technology reviewer, because my job may require me to try different cases on a regular basis. As I said before the case itself is $69.95, but LifeProof has an extensive list of replacement parts and accessories that can be purchased from their site to help in the maintenance of your case. This was a sour point for me, as I have seen other heavy duty protective case manufacturers offer lifetime warranties which usually bypass the need for such parts to be purchased. They sell the front and back panels of the case along with a host of other parts that may deteriorate due to the very things the case protects against. However, LifeProof is new and growing company and like any business I guess they have to seek efficient means of achieving profit everywhere they can. More detail about those additional products can be found in the LifeProof case review/testing video displayed at the end of this article.
For now, it looks like the iPhone 4 is the only device that has a case made by LifeProof that is available for purchase. There is an mock up rendering of what the iPad 2 LifeProof case will look like, but pricing and availability is still to be announced. I do believe that given the benefits of the case that the price, $69.95, is worth given that cases near or equal to that price do not provide water proof protection. I would like to see the belt clip that they plan to sell at a “to be announced” price be repackaged as an included accessory for the case. That would make the price down right a bargain. So if you are in need to take video while you snorkel with the fishes or listen to some tunes while you are in the shower than this may be the right case for your iPhone 4.
Updates after original posting below:
UPDATE(08/11/2011): LifeProof has contacted me shortly after my review has been online to respond to my comment on the spacing between the screen protector that I mention in the review. Its is clear that this was not a desired effect according to their statement below. They have stated the following:
“new batches of cases now have a tighter screen protector. Those will now be available to all who purchase the case. “
UPDATE(09/09/2011): While the case is indeed pocketable, the material that is used on the exterior back of case is very easy to scuff and offers no coating to resist such abrasion. Though very protective, the black case can look undesirable to those wanting to maintain the out of the box aesthetic appeal. Results may differ on other color options.
UPDATE(10/08/2011): We have been reassured by LifeProof that their case will work flawlessly with the iPhone 4S as well. As well it should, given that the phones are exact dimensions and shape.
UPDATE(10/08/2011):The LifeProof Case – Gen 2 is available for the new higher price of $79.99. The belt clip they make is still not included with case. I will be conducting a comparison video of the Gen 1 and Gen 2 cases on video and providing the video below the original video below next month once I receive the newest case.
Hey guys we received the LifeProof for iPhone 4/4S Generation-2 and have completed a visual review of the case in contrast to the LifeProof Generation-1. Check out this link to watch the video!