A Drysuit for your iPhone

The racecourse hasn’t been a friendly place for most smart phones. LifeProof’s innovative case changes that. "Electronics" from our April 2012 issue.

Sailing World

iPhone Lifeproof Case

Using tactical apps like North U’s Tactician or Philippe Kahn’s MotionX can require a waterproof case for the iPhone. LifeProof delivers.Courtesy Lifeproof.com

Most people pick up an iPhone for the first time with a sense of wonderment. They marvel at the size, the clarity of the screen, the look and feel of the slick packaging. I noted all those things when first handling my iPhone 4, but the overwhelming feeling was instead one of trepidation. “I wonder how long it is before I drop this little beauty and break it?”

So my first stop was Radioshack for a protective case. I went for the beefiest one, and it paid for itself the first time my phone bounced off the kitchen floor.

But I wasn’t entirely happy with the case. It was bulky, the rubber exterior was really tacky, and it did little to protect my phone from water.

With sailing season approaching, I went on the hunt for alternatives. To my surprise I actually found one that solves those three problems and has no noticeable downsides. The LifeProof iPhone case ($79.99, lifeproof.com) is a remarkable piece of engineering.

The case is fully waterproof. It's also rated for a 6-foot fall. It's barely thicker than the phone itself (though it's a little longer). The outer surface, while made of rubber, doesn't grab cloth.
I tested the case during a particularly windy and wet day covering the 2012 Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta and also in the pool. It passed both with flying colors.

What is perhaps most amazing about the LifeProof case is that the speakers and the microphone work, and work well, while the phone is inside the case.

The touch screen doesn’t work underwater. However, since the up volume button doubles as a trigger/start-stop button for the camera, underwater pictures and video can be taken easily.

The headphone jack is sealed with a small, screw-in plug, which can, and will, easily be lost. A supplied adaptor enables you to plug in waterproof headphones and take your tunes for a swim.

The dock opening is small and some aftermarket devices will not fit. A $20 dock extender solves that problem.

The LifeProof folks make a number of accessories. The one that will most interest sailors is the float/lanyard combo, which will be available by May.

The case costs almost as much as a new iPhone 4, if you’re buying one with a new phone contract. The replacement cost, however, is much higher. Hopefully, and thanks in large part to LifeProof’s remarkable case, I’ll never have to find out exactly how much higher.