Looking for outdoor protection for your expensive iPhone - we reckon this is the answer...
My iPhone 3GS died in a flooded tent about six weeks ago with a muted death rattle followed by an ominous silence. Inconvenient, but it highlighted just how vulnerable electronic devices are in a hostile outdoors environment, like, erm, a tent during a red warning deluge.
Cue a new phone and a quest to find a waterproof, shock-resistant case which was compact enough to use on an everyday basis and didn't compromise the functionality of the phone or expand it to six times its normal size. And you know what, it exists.
If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S and want to be able to take it outdoors without fretting, use GPS apps in the rain and even drop the thing occasionally, the Lifeproof case could be exactly what you're looking for. It's billed as 'water proof, dirt proof, snow proof and shock proof' and so far it's proved to be all those things.
Sealed Against Water, Dust, Snow, Beer...
It's a low-profile, two piece case that snaps together to completely enclose the phone with a serious waterproof seal where the two parts meet. It also has a sealed but easily opened charging port cover, a waterproof earphone jacket extension system which screws into the case to allow headphone use and an optical glass, anti-reflective lens for the camera.
Best of all, it's super low profile and very light. Of course it does makes the phone larger in every dimension, but only slightly, particularly given that the tough-feeling case is made to military specs, it says here, and tested to withstand drops up to 2 metres.
That said, we wouldn't want to drop it onto the screen side, which is protected by a glossy, waterproof, erm, screeen protector, which obviously isn't going to save it from a direct impact with a rock.
The nice thing about the Lifeproof is that its functionally pretty well transparent. You can use all the iPhone's controls - volume, mute, buttons, camera etc along with the touch screen. As a bonus, the screen works with normal gloves too, so no odd conductive finger tips needed.
Sound is good too, no issues with making calls or receiving them, though in dry places, popping open the charging port improves output and volume slightly.
It's not totally perfect. The headphone extension is a screw-in jack that seals the case, but seems unnnecessarily long even though it allows you to use headphones without compromising the waterproofing of the case, it's sort of flappy. I'm told that the next version will be neater. It'd be nice too to have a waterproof charging interface for fret-free power back-ups on the hill.
And it's mildly expensive too. I know because I bought mine with my own money, 50 quid direct from Lifeproof with free shipping in Europe, but then it's a lot cheaper than a drowned iPhone.
There's even a half-decent bike mount for it too, if you're that way inclined with a neat quick release bar/stem clamp and a 360˚ swivelling head, so you can orientate the phone to suit your preferences.
Anyway, far and away the best blend of protection and everyday useability I've found in an iPhone case and functionally transparent enough that my phone simply lives in it permanently. They have an iPad case on the way too.
Just a really impressive bit of kit. The Lifeproof web site is at www.lifeproof.com.