It was just close to 2 months ago that Apple unveiled and released their highly anticipated successor to the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5, and LifeProof has followed suit with their launch of the LifeProof Frē case for the iPhone 5. Much like the LifeProof cases made for the iPhone 4/4S LifeProof states the Frē follows their four proofs of protection by offering a Water Proof, Dirt Proof, Snow Proof, and Shock Proof case for the iPhone 5. We were happy with the results of protection that LifeProof provided for the iPhone 4/4S when we reviewed that case and are glad to report that, so far, we have seen the same level of protection with the iPhone 5 variant of the case. We also will have a video hands on of the case after the break, now lets talk about the case.
The iPhone 5 comes in at 7.6 mm thick while the LifeProof Frē is 12.88 mm think, adding 4.58 mm in additional thickness if you decide to use this case for your iPhone 5. That is also 2mm thinner than the OtterBox Commuter Series Case for the iPhone 5 4mm thinner than the OtterBox Defender Series Case for iPhone 5, neither of which is waterproof. The iPhone 5 comes in at 3.95 ounces(112 grams) in weight while the LifeProof Frē case brings an additional 1.05 ounces(29.8 grams) to add to the total weight of the iPhone 5. Instead of going into to much unnecessary detail of all the case features as we had done in the review of the LifeProof for the iPhone 4/4S we thought it best to provide quick and concise bullet points of the main talking points of this case below:
LifeProof Frē for iPhone 5 Features:
- Lightweight and sleek, weighs only 1.05 oz / 29.8 grams
- Water proof and fully submersible down to 6.6 feet / 2 meters.
- Ingress protection rated to IP-68 and completely sealed from water and dust particles.
- Shock proof to Military Standard 810F-516 to withstand drops from 6.6 feet / 2 meters.
- LifeProof’s CrystalClear double anti-reflective (AR) coated camera-grade glass lens delivers the sharpest images possible, with perfect camera flash operation.
- LifeProof’s ClearVoice system takes full advantage of the iPhone 5 microphone and Siri voice activation while in the case.
- LifeProof’s patent-pending Sound Enhancement System (SES) improves the bass and mid-frequency speaker response by utilizing the back of the case as a sub-woofer for a richer, fuller sound.
There has been a few small design enhancements such as with the revealed window on the back of the LifeProof Frē which gives users the ability to view and show off their Apple logo on their iPhone 5. The window is covered with a plastic covering that seems to be the same material used to cover the the front screen of the device. CNET has reported that LifeProof have expressed receiving heavy feedback that users did not want their Apple logo being hidden, “We got feedback from folks and many wanted to be able to show they had an Apple product,” says Jonathan Wegner, Lifeproof’s director of communications. “This is particularly true in the Chinese market. They don’t want the logo hidden.” We on the other hand do not think this was necessary because, while it may indeed be aesthetically pleasing to be able to see the Apple symbol revealed on this case, it provides an additional possible place of failure to occur in the case. We would take full proof over possible failure point any day of the week, although we do want to note that we have not yet seen a failure in this aspect of the case against protection the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 has a microphone located on the back of the phone right in between the camera and the LED flash to help supplement the audio recording of the main microphone for video recording purposes. There appear to be no waterproof vent to help facilitate the use of it but there is a tiny circle indent where it would be located on the back of the case. On media pictures this indent almost looks like it could be a waterproof hole for the microphone but it is merely an indent with no opening toward microphone so far as can tell.
The charging port opening on the LifeProof Frē has of course gotten a bit smaller to more better suit placement of Apple’s new iPhone 5 Lightning port. However, the one thing that has not changed is the inability to fit anything in a LifeProof port for charging besides Apple’s proprietary Lightning adapter and cords. That means your are not going to be able to directly dock with a speaker or use it with any accessory unless you use one of Apple’s proprietary products or exactly sized variants from other manufacturers of iPhone 5 accessories. We also want to make reference that some users complained about the LifeProof for the iPhone 4/4S giving them poor sound playback with their iPhone inside the case and also having people they talked to on the phone complain about their voice quality. We made several phone calls with this case and we also played a few songs not shown in our hands-on video for copyright purposes and we noticed a few things. First off we had no major complaints in how we sounded over the phone, some of our callers said we sounded normal while a few said we sounded a bit low. So since there was not a 100% consensus on that side of testing we have to conclude it could have been based on where we were at the time making calls or maybe even the way we sounded on that particular person’s phone. We do want to point out that microphone vent is a waterproof vent and that could also have played a part in our test. Moving on to the audio playback of music, their was definitely a lower sound to music played back with the case on as apposed to without as we expected due to the waterproof nature of the vents covering the speakers of the phones. The LifeProof Frē case still covers the 3.5mm headset jack just as it had with the previous LifeProof case, only it is located on the bottom now with the iPhone 5 variant. Most of the other design elements that made the first LifeProof case popular remain the same with the LifeProof Frē.
The LifeProof Frē comes in both full black and white on gray colors and is priced at $79.99. What can we say? Water, dirt, snow, and shock protection for the iPhone 5 apparently does not come cheap. The LifeProof Frē is available exclusively at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile specialty stores nationwide and at www.lifeproof.com. From what we have read online and heard from LifeProof; initial stock of the case has been very limited and they have been fulfilling early pre-orders of the case and getting their initial exclusive store partner stocked as well. Consumers should probably expect to see a heavy stream of stock online and in stores by December if not sooner. Please feel free to leave comments regarding your personal experiences with the LifeProof Frē case for the iPhone 5 in the comments fields below in addition to any questions or concerns you may want to share with the community.