Review: LifeProof iPhone Case – The Real Deal

We’ve all been there: a product is announced that has huge potential and could change an industry forever, but fails to deliver, leaving everyone majorly disappointed.   Honestly, when we previewed the LifeProof case for iPhone 4/4S, we were a little afraid that this would be the case (no pun intended), and we’d be left with a thick, cumbersome covering for the iPhone that keeps you from performing basic tasks.  Happily, we can now report that LifeProof has delivered on their promise of protecting your phone while still letting you do all of the things that you bought the phone for in the first place.

The idea is one that people have been asking for since smart phones took over the world (don’t pretend that they haven’t).  We all want a case that will protect our phone from accidents without getting in the way, but generally have to settle somewhere in the middle by being forced to choose one that offers no protection or one that has to be taken off to do pretty much anything (think steel ammo can).  With the “4 Proofs” offered by LifeProof, you can be protected from water, shock, snow, and dust while still doing everything the iPhone was designed for.  Innovative ideas – such as adding extra space in the back of the case to make it act as a subwoofer – make sure that protecting your phone does not mean a tradeoff in usability.

Immediately upon opening up the LifeProof iPhone case, we put it together and tested it by putting it in a bowl full of water and placing something heavy to keep it down.  After about an hour of submersion, no water found its way into the case (we suggest you do this on your own LifeProof and follow all other assembly instructions entirely).  When placed around your phone, the LifeProof adds a very small amount of bulk except in a few sensitive areas – the volume controls on the side, the headphone jack at the top, and the charging port at the bottom – and even those areas are minimally chunky.  The material on the outside of the case is designed so that it won’t get stuck in your pocket, but still offers enough grip that holding onto the phone – even when wet – is no problem.  One worry that we had about the case before testing was that the screen would be difficult to touch or unresponsive.  The design of the case is such that this has never been a problem, even when typing or delicately touching a tiny link on a web page.  While we loved almost everything about the LifeProof case, one small thing did cause a few problems.  Because the ports are designed to be as small of a weakness in protection as possible, many aftermarket accessories (headphones, charging cables, docks, etc.) will not fit without using additional adapters.  All of the accessories that come with the iPhone will fit, however.  It is somewhat annoying, but understandable and pretty easy to work around in most situations, and doesn’t decrease the usability of the case much.

We also got our hands (or arm) on the LifeProof iPhone armband, which has been designed to fit snugly around the LifeProof case.  The material used to connect to your arm is some of the most comfortable material we have seen on an armband to date.  It is strong enough to keep from slipping, but won’t rub your arm raw or pull out hair (even when you try to make it happen, as we discovered).  It is great for either jogging or swimming, and could because a familiar part of your workout routine.

Overall, the LifeProof iPhone case is a fantastic way to keep your phone protected from the things you enjoy (or surprises while doing them).  It is also does wonders reducing stress when you allow children or clumsy people to use your phone, which leads us to think that LifeProof marketing should add an additional proof to their “4 Proofs” – Kidproof.  At only $80, it is only a small fraction of the cost of replacing an iPhone and cheaper than most repairs.  Because it offers so many good features with a minimal amount of inconvenience, we have no problems recommending this to anyone – we even demonstrate how awesome it is whenever possible.  Chucking your phone into a sink full of water to see how people react is particularly rewarding.  They can be purchased at the LifeProof website, or at Best Buy, and would make a great Father’s Day gift.  LifeProof comes in 4 colors: black, white, pink, and purple (although we suggest you stay away from the last two if you’re buying for dad).

– David

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