As soon as you buy a mobile phone, it’s on a conveyor belt to redundancy.
If you’re unlucky, or careless, you’ll discover there are lots of ways to kill one early. Drop it, wet it, smash it, lose it, even plunge it in the toilet. If you’re lucky, or very careful, you might eke ten years out of it.
Enter LifeProof phone cases. They claim to be waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof and drop proof. If that’s true, they just might be able to slow down your phone’s inevitable trip to the tech graveyard.
Design & Durability (Rating: 90%)
The LifeProof FRE looks deceptively simple. It’s a two-piece plastic case that clamps snugly around your phone. The front has a see-through protective cover, with a slim but robust frame/edge that slips over your phone’s buttons. The back is totally see-through, allowing your phone’s colour to remain visible. It also contains the seal that fits around the edge of the phone. You click the front and back together over your phone and clamp them into place with a simple clip that covers the charging port. Care is needed to ensure that the case has sealed properly.
LifeProof has a range of cases to suit most commonly used mobile phones and some tablets. I tested the case’s claims using my iPhone. I dropped the phone onto concrete twice: once deliberately, once accidentally. It came through unscathed both times. I used the phone in the rain, and in the snow, and had no issues. I submerged the case in a bucket of water for 10 minutes (without my phone in it*). No water entered the case. I’ve used the case day and night for over a month, and it has coped perfectly with dirt, dust, and harsh treatment.
* a reviewer’s dedication has its limits.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)
Once the case is properly fitted, it’s easily forgotten. Most of the tasks you usually perform, whether typing, scrolling or changing settings, are done exactly as before. Occasionally a little extra pressure may be required, especially when trying to mute the alert sounds.
I noticed no difference in either hearing or being heard while the case was on, and the camera functioned clearly and normally. I was impressed with the case’s ability to accommodate earbuds. If you don’t need earbuds or headphones, the case has a screw-in lug that covers the socket and keeps it water and dust proof. But that lug, which has a short bungy-like tether, can be unscrewed, and replaced with a screw-in cord (supplied) that allows you to plug in and use your normal earbuds. Recharging requires only a quick release of the clip that covers the port, and then business as usual.
The FRE comes with some optional attachments, including an armband and a bike and bar mount. The armband can hold your phone on your upper arm when you’re out running/walking. I didn’t try this, but it will undoubtedly suit some users. The bike and bar mount fits to the handlebars of your bike and clamps your phone in place via a simple but effective lock. I tried this out on a vigorous mountain bike ride, and it held very well. In concert with the waterproof case and an app such as Strava, it can turn your phone into a great all-weather bike computer.
What I Like
- Offers very good protection for your phone in a wide range of otherwise risky settings.
- Works seamlessly, so you hardly remember you have a case.
- The touch screen cover is surprisingly effective, and the camera works just as well as when uncovered.
- It’s tough without adding much bulk to your phone.
- The bike accessory fits and holds very well, and enables your phone to act as a (well-protected) bike computer.
What I Don’t Like
- Just one or two spots on the screen required an extra push to get the phone to respond as per normal.
- The button covers also require harder pressure to gain a response.
The LifeProof FRE Case is available online for various phones and tablets, directly from LifeProof.
Win a prize pack from LifeProof
LifeProof have generously offered a prize pack to give away to The Bushwalking Blog readers (Australian readers only). The winner will be contacted so they can advise the brand and model of their phone before the prize is sent. The pack consists of:
- LifeProof FRE Case
- LIFEACTIV Armband with QuickMount
- LIFEACTIV Belt Clip with QuickMount
- Air lounge
- Drawstring bag
- Toiletry bag
- Camping kit
- USB wristband
Disclaimer: The reviewer was provided with a LifeProof FRE case to test, and LifeProof have also provided a prize pack to giveaway. None of this has any influence on the opinions presented in my review.
Have you tried the LifeProof’s FRE case? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.