Lander is a US-based manufacturer of mobile phone cases and accessories, and this is their Moab model –an iPhone case with features specifically intended for expedition style outdoor use. While it sports more trademarks than flies at a barbecue, the two features of main interest are:
- Thermoline: “Protects from Extreme Temperatures”
- Illumifind: “Reflective details for quick location in the dark”
Extreme Temperatures. What’s the problem?
iPhones have an operating temperature range of 0° and 35° Celsius. The issue is not just the inadequate range- it’s also the speed at which these temperature limits can be arrived at. Due to the high surface area to volume ratio of modern phones, they gain or lose heat rapidly.
A few minutes in sub-zero temperatures can be all it takes for an iPhone to go from a full charge to not powering up: it will display a feeble image of a charging cable and empty battery on a black screen.
I have managed to nurse an iPhone on a single charge through 11 days on the Larapinta trail, yet in minus 5-degree conditions on a Kosciusko day trip, a fully charged, the exposed phone became unusable in a matter of minutes.
At the other end of the temperature scale, when the internal phone temperature is exceeded, it shuts itself off and needs to cool down before you can use it. This is most often encountered when the phone has been in direct sun or inside cars.
How is Thermoline supposed to work?
The manufacturer calls it “climate control for your phone” and says that Thermoline is an “advanced insulation layer keeps your phone at optimal working temperature in extreme climates”. The packaging includes a tantalising graph of the “Case / No Case” temperature performance. Unfortunately, no test results or performance data is provided to support the claim.
The Thermoline is a thin foil type material approx. 50mm x 100mm placed under a sticker in the back of the case. I think this could work by capturing some electronic heat energy from the phone and allowing that heat to be absorbed back by the phone to maintain warmth. Perhaps this panel could also reflect unwanted heat gain in summer, but given the small area covered, its efficacy would seem to be limited.
What about real world performance?
On a recent Mt Feathertop Razorback traverse, where it was just below zero for most the day, I left the powered down phone in my pack. After a few hours, I pulled it out and found it would not power up. After 20 minutes warming in my pocket, it powered up. The next day I carried the phone powered up in a warm pocket, and of course had no issues.
Thermoline is no silver bullet to extreme temperatures. It is not a substitute for sensible precautions – where possible, a phone needs to be kept in a warm pocket in winter, and out of direct sunlight in summer.
I thought Illumifind might have been a luminous “glow in the dark” feature, like my wristwatch’s hands. It’s not, it’s a reflective treatment of the Lander logo and leash slots on the rear of the case.
The small reflective area and its location on the back of the phone limit its usefulness. To find your phone in the dark you’d still need to use a torch to catch the reflection.
Design & Durability (Rating: 80%)
The phone snaps into the case easily and securely. The case’s perimeter rim protrudes enough to protect the phone, should it land buttered side down. The buttons are recessed in moulded shrouds to prevent inadvertent operation – yet they can still be used with thin gloves. Case apertures are large enough for the plugs, and the speaker and microphone apertures are big enough to have no impact on voice quality.
It comes with a detachable wrist leash which I felt sure I wouldn’t like- I don’t like to walk around with a phone in my hand. However, I quickly grew to like to the leash and use it to pull the phone up from deep trouser pockets or remote corners of my rucksack. I also found it more useful than Illumifind for locating the phone in a dark tent.
The leash mounting slots look flimsy but haven’t failed yet. A longer leash would be handy to allow the phone to be hung around your neck like we used to do when we had compasses and map cases.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 75%)
What I liked most about this case is the surface texture of the case material. It feels like nicely worn piece of fine grit wet/dry paper. It provides enough friction to prevent the phone shooting out of a shirt pocket when you lean forward but doesn’t stick like Velcro or feel rough. It also has the same friction when wet.
I made a number of test voice calls in Field Test Mode with the case on and case off and saw no difference in received signal strength indication (RSSI). This means that this case does not reduce the number of signal bars available, which is a good thing in remote areas.
What I Like
- Surface texture is perfect.
- Good overall design.
- No adverse impact on the usability of the phone.
- Nicely packaged.
What I Don’t Like
- The lack of information or data to support the Thermoline temperature regulation claim.
- Lanyard mounting slots look flimsy, and rough use would see these tear out.
- Illumifind. A tiny reflective logo does not assist finding the phone in the dark. Good idea but ineffective.
The Lander Moab iPhone case is available online direct from Bodyguardz.
Disclaimer: Lander has provided us with a Moab case for review. As usual, this has no influence over the opinions presented here.
Have you tried the Lander’s phone cases? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.