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Review: Lifeproof iPhone case is waterproof without big trade-offs

Tweeting while in the shower? Blogging while in the bathtub? The Lifeproof iPhone case makes it possible, and even manages to do so without adding much girth to your device or sealing it away in a cumbersome bag-style cover, like other alternatives.

A thin, yellow, rubber strip helps seal the case tight. While I didn’t take it in the shower, I did take the empty case into a bathtub multiple times and saw absolutely no leaks inside. I wasn’t quite adventuresome enough to try it with my iPhone inside, but third-party tests and user reports suggest it works as advertised. All the iPhone (s aapl) physical buttons are protected, and an integrated screen protector covers the home button. A screen top protects the headphone jack, and a flip cover protects the dock connector. The screen protector also didn’t take away from the quality of the iPhone’s Retina display. The speakers are protected with Gore-Tex, designed to let sound pass through but prevent water from getting in.

I was unwilling to fully test the shock protection with my own current-use device, but  I did a few drop tests with already cracked iPhone screen components and the protection was impressive.

As a functional daily case it had some drawbacks for me. The dock port is tight, and the only cable that fit in my tests was the one my iPhone came with. If you have a lot of third-party sync/charge cables, you may want to think twice about this purchase. However, Apple’s own cables fit just fine, so this may not be a limiting factor.

The headphone jack is deeply recessed in the case, requiring an adapter (included with the case) to use most headphones. It’s annoying, but not a major problem since you can easily keep an adapter attached to your favorite pair of headphones. I lost the tiny screw top protector (which seals the headphone jack when not in use) multiple times. Fortunately, Lifeproof provides an extra protector in the box.

While the home button is easily accessible through the screen protector, I found other controls such as the volume and sleep buttons a bit difficult to use. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is inconvenient.

Removal of the iPhone from this case was a breeze. I often had to remove it to work with my other iPhone-enabled devices. Typically, cases with high levels of protection require multiple steps to remove the iPhone, so the ease with which the Lifeproof comes on and off is a big plus.

Although callers did not notice a difference in sound quality during normal phone calls, they reported reverberation and feedback during speakerphone calls. I noticed the quality of the sound was a bit muffled, but I was told I received a faulty unit and the second one had improved sound. I also reviewed the instructional videos Lifeproof had online about the case, and made sure it was seated properly. Be sure to watch those videos, because properly fitting the case to your device can make a big difference in sound quality.

Generally, I really liked this case and would recommend it to anyone who works in environments where water damage could become an issue, or for anyone who simply wants more protection without a lot of bulk and complication. The need to use an adapter for the speaker jack, as well as some third-party accessories was annoying, but the cost of those is still much cheaper than replacing a water-damaged phone. Overall, this is one of the best rugged cases out there, with the added benefit of extremely high water resistance.

29 Responses to “Review: Lifeproof iPhone case is waterproof without big trade-offs”

  1. Katie Rebecca Grim

    your drisuit looks like a bag the screen looks like a piece of plastic its not form fitting at all. I just wanted to thank everyone for the reviews i have ordered my life proof case and as soon as i get it I will let you know how i like it.

  2. I bought the life proof case thinking it had a life time warranty but 90 days! Really! Otterbox has a lifetime warranty and they are cheaper as well. Also, the headphone jack is very hard to use and the touch screen is berry of and everytim you use it it’s like a bubble. Returned!

  3. Case works! BUT no costomer service.. Phone number is worthless no answer,same for twitter account! Bought second gen for 4s people I call have hard time hearing me! Siri can’t understand! Because of design of case I can’t use docking station and the company has a dock extender but it’s been out of stock for months!! Again worst part is lifeproof doesn’t answer any calls,inquires or twitter posts! Sure it works to keep water out but it’s worthless once your $400 phone is in it!! Horrible customer service! Don’t make the same mistake I did and buy this!!!

  4. I bought this case for my fiancee about 3 weeks ago when we got his phone. Yesterday he droped it at work from the standing position. (About 3 feet from the ground). And guess what his screen cracked!! We took all the correct steps while putting the iphone in the case. We watched the video online like the directions said. I have an OTTER BOX and love it. Yes it is a bit bulky but it is better than a cracked screen. I will be contacting the company to see what they will do. I spent $80 on this case and wannt my money back. I do not feel that BestBuy should be responsible for this I think the company should be. I hope everyone takes this in before going and spending $80 on one like I did

  5. lifeproof isn’t worth half the price i paid for it, 75$. i keep my phone in my pocket and the adapter for my headphones got a short within not even 3 months. i’m stuck purchasing another headphone jack adapter or listen to lame cracks in my music. they should have put better endurance like an internal wiring to brace bending that occurs. cheap quality not cheap price…

    • Only complaint I have with the lifeproof case is the cheap not well thought out headphone adapter cord. After one month the cord is nonfunctional. For a case that costs as much as it does you would think you could put a little more effort into the durability of a main component of the case. Lifeproof has sent me a new adapter cord, but I know that it’s just a matter of time before this one goes out a well. So I’m stuck with the understanding that if I want to continue using the case and listen to my headphones I will have to invest in a replacement cord every other month.

  6. Sila Martin

    I got my daughter the white Lifeproof case about a week ago and we absolutely love it. I ordered the purple one for me, can’t wait till I get it tomorrow (wish they sold them at Best Buy too). I did the 1 hour test and then we put the phone in the case and dropped it in a big bowl of water and it was pretty darn awesome. Btw, I looked up the driSuit on youtube and yes it does seem like a really good case (not many videos though) with much of the same functions as the Lifeproof case, but it doesn’t look as nice and not something you would leave on all the time. My daughter is really picky and I want to make sure she actually uses the case.

  7. Joyce Baptista

    Bullshit…. I bought the case for $80 at best buy. After one week my phone fell from my hand faced down, once i picked it up my brand new phone had the screen TOTALY BROKEN. Thanx for the headache, by the way did I mention that I’m returning the case?

  8. Jason LC Florida

    I have mad respect for my Lifeproof case! It’s been run over by a car on the road face down , fully submerged in a bathtub, dropped on concrete from 10′ high, and beat on by my one year old! 5 star case in my book! I can’t wait to get a Lifeproof case for my iPad and see what kind of abuse it can take! GO LIFEPROOF!!

  9. I have the lifeproof case and I will never go back to my otterbox. Before you put your phone in the case, they tell you to put the case together without the phone, and keep it underwater for an hour then check for water inside the case. It works as they claim it does 100%. Also all of the buttons work perfect too.

    • Maybe you’ll be able to answer to this:
      I just got my lifeproof case yesterday and I have a question concerning the 2 bottom microphone openings. If you look from the inside of the case, they are not made the same (right?). One has a thin smooth grey layer covering the opening (like the top speaker one), the other one: a thin black screen, and the membrane inside is wrinkled… This is my concern. Can anyone tell me if your case seems to be made the same way? I’m worried that it could compromise the waterproof feature…

  10. whats the point of this review if youre not going to 100% test the case with a fully functioning iphone? its basically a half-assed review of a half-assed testing. pointless and poor reporting.

    • I appreciate the feedback. I couldn’t risk a work phone if the product didn’t work as advertised. However, Lifeproof recommends testing without the phone first to make sure the seal is proper. The waterproof aspects were only one feature of the product.

      • understandable…and i didnt mean to come across a bit mean. but my point was, unless youre going to risk your actual working device to test a products claims for a review, for a product that the apple blog essentially endorsed, the whole review is mute because you wouldn’t test it with your working phone. you gave the thumbs up without seeing if all the claims held up.