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Phone Cases from Lifeproof

Edit: I'm rerunning this because comments weren't working when it went live the first time and I've gotten several e-mails about it. DR

The Lifeproof phone case for iPhone 4S, shown here in their limited tactical FDE color, leaning inside the phone 'lifejacket' accessory.

My first inclination upon receiving a Lifeproof Case (they sent me the tactical FDE version for the 4S, so I looked cooler than everyone else) was to look upon all their claims with an extreme sense of skepticism. Water- and dustproof my iPhone? Put it in a bright orange liferaft and turn it loose on the water? I'm not one of those guys who absolutely can't live with his phone (Gollum) but I do like having it close and functioning.

How would I test it without risking the device? Household-6 thought I was crazy when I dunked it under running water the first time - though it should be noted that she now has a Lifeproof case on her phone.

I've spent the last couple of months with a Lifeproof Case on my 4S and I can tell you so far everything they claim is true. This thing really does protect the guts of your phone from just about anything - you really can listen to your phone via headphones (with the connection piece they provide) in the shower, if that's your thing.

The Lifeproof Case has an integral cover, which helps maintain its integrity and simplifies installation, but once it's scratched you're stuck with it unless you replace the case.

Some of the things I like about it (Pros):

- It's very slim and lightweight, particularly compared to some of the real heavy duty cases out there

-It provides comprehensive protection vs. water and dirt IF installed properly

-Reasonable shock protection (I dropped it several times and knocked if off a table once, etc. - not saying you can run over it with an MRAP, but it will keep your screen from shattering if you have a klutz moment)

-Available in numerous colors (not as important to me, as I really don't care what it looks like, but if you don't want to look tacticool, or you're considering one for a fashion-conscious dependent it's a plus)

-Capable of video and photography underwater without any quality issues other then that presented by the environment

-Integrated screen protector, so you don't need to buy a separate one

-Installation is relatively simple though unfortunately you really must read the directions

-Ability to use headphones if you use the jack adapter (you still need to worry about your earbuds)

Lifeproof case with earphone jack adapter cover screw removed and set to the side - it's effective, probably the least vulnerable access point, but it's easy to lose the cover piece.

-Availability of other accessories such as the life jacket and arm band (and the lifejacket really works, by the way, though I didn't do much more than float it in a tub and on a pond; I wasn't going to drop it and then chase it downstream)

The bottom part of the case, where it recharges - the cover here fits seamless and is ruggedly built, but you must be certain its secure before risking wet/dusty environments.

Some issues I had (Cons):

-I'm terrible about reading directions and I don't like to do it. If you're at all like that, you risk making the use of the case moot. Though installation is simple it does require meticulous cleaning and attention to detail or the waterproofing becomes unreliable.

-The headphone jack cover isn't terribly convenient and would be easy to lose. In fact, after the third time I lost mine I wound up attaching it to the orange liferaft so I always knew where it was (far harder to lose a bright orange piece of kit as big as your hand, though in fairness I've done that too).

-The headphone jack cover screw is extremely easy to lose and somewhat inconvenient. You lose this piece, you either have to order another or leave the jack adapter in. Unless you're OCD or an EOD Tech you're about certain to lose this at one point or another. My suggestion - have at least one spare on hand.

-Use of 3RD party chargers unreliable because the openings are extremely tight (a natural result of the close fit required). Your brand name Apple chargers and accessories are about the only ones that will fit.

-The integrated screen protector is very glossy and shows fingerprints well; because it's integrated, you're stuck with a scratched one unless you replace the case.

-Expensive (though worth it)

-Requires frequent checks to make sure your installation remains secure. If your case loosens or crack it loses integrity. To be fair here, over the course of two months this only happened to mine once, and that was after I was fiddling around with it.

-Some customers complain of a reduction in audio quality from the speakers with a Lifeproof case installed. Although their were some occasions when incoming calls on my phone sounded somewhat hollow and tinny, I can't say for sure if that was the case or my location. They were infrequent in any event. I had no complaints about outgoing calls and had no issues when the phone was on speaker.


Summary: The iPhone 4S case from Lifeproof is definitely worth the money and delivers on its promises. I myself would not use it on a day to day basis given my current activities, but rather would switch out periodically if I was going to a class, hiking, camping, etc. That said, I would use it if I was still working the road with a police department, was in the field instructing a class or doing anything presenting some sort of risk. This isn't to imply it's a worst-case use accessory at all - I can see plenty of argument to just leave it on, in order to avoid the pain in the ass switching back and forth presents (and to keep from losing that damn headphone jack cover screw. There is also the very possibility of ruining a phone with day to day POG or office life - spilled coffee, dropping it in the sink, a slobbering beast coming in from running in the back yard. Some of you may prefer to leave it on full-time, especially if you don't use headphones much.

I would say you're cleared hot to spend the money, and so far it looks like the case for the iPhone 5 will be rated similarly. I'll let you know soon.

Order yours here: Lifeproof. Since the Residential Sergeant Major has taken possession of my iPhone 5 case, I will be buying another for my upgrade. It's worth the investment.

That's it for New Year's Day. Hope you don't have too much of a hangover and you're having a good holiday. Go forth and conquer.



From the Website:


Your LifeProof™ everyday case for iPhone 4 or 4S is sleek, refined, convenient and unobtrusive.

  • Protection
    • Protects against every-day hazards—full IP-68 rating against water and dust, and designed to Military Specifications
    • High degree of shock and impact protection—tested to Military Specifications MIL-STD-810F-516.5 (2 meters/6.6ft drop on all surfaces and edges. 26 tests)
    • Fully sealed protection against minute dust particles
  • Freedom
    • Includes bonus General User Headphone Adaptor and Keeper for headphone jack cover
    • Ability to swim and take underwater (2 meters/6.6ft depth). Optional Swimming Headphone Adapter allows use of waterproof headphones underwater
    • Mil-Spec protection that allows you to go anywhere, anytime, and do anything with carefree freedom
  • Beauty
    • Ultra-slim and adds only 1/16” (1.5mm) when measured from the center of the phone
  • Convenience
    • Weighs less than an ounce (28g).
    • Unique combination of materials that will not stick to your pocket
    • Compatible with all iPhone 4 and 4S models (International carriers, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon).
  • Full Functionality
    • Double AR-coated optical glass lenses provide unprecedented crystal-clear photo and video quality
    • All phone features are operational while maintaining a high level of protection
    • Improves the bass and mid-frequency speaker response by utilizing the back of the case as a sub-woofer for a richer, fuller sound.



To give you confidence to go everywhere with your LifeProof iPhone, iPod and iPad we water test each and every case we make. Not only that, after the test an independent agent performs additional testing and even puts randomly selected cases through a second water test. We never ship a case unless it has been successfully tested. As LifeProof employees we use our cases every day, so we only make cases we trust ourselves!


Military Standard 810F-516 MIL STD 810 F is the standard that addresses a broad range of environmental conditions, with MIL STD 810F-516 being the section of the standard that is specific to functional drop. This standard requires that the item can physically and functionally withstand the relatively infrequent, non-repetitive shocks encountered in handling, transportation, and service environments. This may include an assessment of the overall material system integrity for safety purposes in any one or all of the handling, transportation, and service environments.

IP-68 IEL 60529 is the standard for Ingress Protection from water and dust for enclosures. IP-68 is the most rigorous classification in this specification. The first characteristic number describes protection from solid foreign objects. An enclosure with a characteristic number of 6 can withstand exposure to circulating talcum powder for 8 hours with no dust ingress after that period. The second characteristic number describes protection against water. An enclosure with a characteristic number of 8 exceeds all other water protection levels and is specified by the manufacturer. For LifeProof, number 8 signifies LifeProof cases will withstand immersion in water to a depth of 2 meters / 6.6 feet for 30 minutes.

Case Dimensions 2.6" (W) x 5.08" (L) x 0.52"(D) (66mm (W) x 129mm (L) x 13.3mm (D) )
Case Weight 0.98 oz. (28g)
Operating Temperature iPhone 32°F (0°C) to 95°F (35°C)
Temperature range for LifeProof Case alone -40°F (-40°C) to 140°F (+60°C)
Operational Depth 6.6 feet (2 meters) underwater maximum
Drop Height 6.6 feet (2 meters) maximum

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