Want to take your iPhone for a swim? You can with the LifeProof case.
By TAN KIT HOONG
Take a look at any accessory shop and you'll see tons of third party casings for the iPhone.
However, try to find one that will protect it when it's underwater and still allow you to listen to music or record videos and you'll probably only find one or two.
LifeProof is one such company that makes a rugged casing that seems to have it all. It's relatively thin, light and completely waterproof, yet allows you to work through the case, and special waterproof membranes for the microphone and speakers even allow you talk and listen to the phone like normal.
Sounds too good to be true? Well it isn't although there is a very tiny catch, which we'll deal with in this review.
What you get
First off, the LifeProof casing comes in a variety of colours, namely black, pink, purple and white.
For some reason, the folks at Equest had to send us the pink one! Anyway, in the box you'll find two halves of the casing, a microfibre cloth for cleaning your iPhone and a special waterproof 3.5mm earphone adaptor for plugging in your earphones.
Ensuring that the case can properly protect your iPhone from water intrusion, LifeProof has a long checklist of stuff you need to do before even assembling the case.
For one thing, you need to inspect and make sure that there are no hairs or lint along the entire length of the silicone gasket that surrounds the inside of the casing.
Then you need to assemble the case without the iPhone, closing all ports and then dunking it in a bucket of water, with a bowl or some utensil weighing down the casing for an hour, followed by an inspection for water intrusion.
LifeProof in fact requires you to read the FAQ and take a quiz before it will extend the 90-day warranty to the full one-year warranty that the casing is entitled to.
Once all checks are done, you then have to clean and insert the iPhone in the correct way and assemble the back, making sure it "clicks" into place all along the entire edge.
A watertight plug is then screwed into the 3.5mm earphone port and then the door of the sync port is snapped closed to complete the seal.
Once correctly ensconced inside the LifeProof, the iPhone is theoretically sealed from rain and dust and yet allows you to use the phone even with the casing on - the screen has a clear plastic layer that will still allow you to tap on the iPhone screen.
The only drawback is that there is plastic layer between you and the iPhone screen, and there is a tiny bit of "give" so you sometimes have to tap a little harder than you're used to for it to register a tap on the iPhone.
In case you're wondering you can indeed plug in your stereo earphones and still maintain the water resistance of the casing - you get a little adaptor cable that screws into the port that opens into the 3.5mm stereo port and at the other end you can plug in your Apple earphones.
What? You want to use your iPhone and earphones while swimming? Well, it is possible but you need to get a pair of waterproof stereo earphones, which you can buy from the LifeProof site or from a number of companies that make such earphones.
I had quite a bit of trepidation when testing the LifeProof with my iPhone, but hey, I decided to bite the bullet and do a number of tests on it.
First, of course, is the waterproof test - once I properly installed my iPhone in the LifeProof case, I decided to take it into the bathroom and answer calls and whatnot while taking a shower.
Yes, it worked - a quick check after drying it off thoroughly showed that there was no water intrusion even after a good shower, and it even allowed me to answer and make calls.
Next, I dunked it into a bucket of water and shot some videos.
One interesting thing to note is that while you can initiate a video recording or take a still photo by touching on the screen above water, you cannot do this when underwater, since by nature of the iPhone's capacitive touchscreen, your finger capacitance would be different underwater.
However, since iOS 5.0.1 and later, Apple now allows you to shoot photos and videos by pressing the volume up button on the side of the iPhone, so it's quite possible now to initiate video recordings underwater.
So yes, it worked just fine underwater as well, even picking up audio with the iPhone's built in microphone, via the waterproof membrane that covers the speaker and microphone areas which allows sound to pass through but not water.
A number of optional accessories are available as well, including a belt clip and arm band.
If there's one major caveat in using the LifeProof case, it has to be that once the iPhone is in the casing, you are not meant to open it and remove the iPhone too many times.
LifeProof says the casing is only roughly meant to be opened and closed about 50 times before the snap locks that ensure the iPhone is completely sealed inside may not work as well.
Strangely enough, the sync door is rated for thousands of open and close actions (to allow you to plug in the cable to synchronise the iPhone), so should be fine for its lifetime.
According to the LifeProof site, the casing is meant to be slim and allow you to work through the case and yet remain completely waterproof and reasonably shock resistant.
The LifeProof case certainly succeeds - it is one of the slimmest waterproof cases I have come across and it works as advertised.
It is a tad on the expensive side but if you lead an active lifestyle and are in need of a casing that protects your iPhone from the elements, this is the one to get.
Pros: Waterproof; shockproof; allows you to work through the case like normal.
Cons: Plastic screen protector makes the touchscreen a little less sensitive; case can only be opened and closed for about 50 times.
iPhone 4/4S case
SPECIFICATIONS: Complies to IP-68 military specifications for water and dust resistance, shockproof up to 2m
OTHER FEATURES: Includes earphone cable adaptor
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 63.5 x 12.9 x 117.5mm
Review unit courtesy of Equest International (M) Sdn Bhd, (65) 6844-3691