Review: LifeProof frē for iPhone 5

Water has been a notorious culprit behind the unfortunate demise of iOS devices. The vulnerability between an iPhone and any liquid is quite daunting, and many of us users have had firsthand experience involving an iPhone and a stray particle of liquid that managed to find its way into one of the device’s accessible ports. While it’s certainly not pleasant having your device wrecked, there are ways of safeguarding against water damage. One of the most highly anticipated waterproof companions is LifeProof’s versatile frē case for the iPhone ($79.99).

While using LifeProof’s recently-released case for the iPhone 5, you can feel at ease when participating in many of your everyday activities. The case lives up to its claims of protecting your phone from four common agents of harm: water, dirt, snow and shock.

You’d think something packing in as much protection as the frē would be some bulky, unattractive case. However, on the very opposite side of consideration, the case is incredibly sleek and adds almost no additional weight to that of the naked iPhone. The only real difference you’ll find is that the case elongate’s the iPhone by a fair amount; a little over half an inch to be exact. This could be a deal-breaker that would vary from person to person depending on each person’s view of phone size.

The case is compromised of two separate pieces – a front and back – which will snap together, your phone enclosed in between. The edges of the case are lined with resistant rubber bumpers to keep everything potentially-harmful outside. On the back, you’ll find a rounded square cutout that leaves the Apple logo on the iPhone visible; quite an aesthetically-pleasing touch that wasn’t present in the iPhone 4S’s iteration of the LifeProof.

Unfortunately, the convenience of waterproofing your phone comes along with some questionably detrimental sacrifices that must be made. Rather than a separate screen protector that must be applied by the user, the case comes equipped with a plastic film already integrated into the front half of the case. While it serves the purpose of protecting your screen, the film is incredibly bothersome and decreases the sensitivity of the iPhone’s naked screen. What’s more is that awkwardly-colored bubbles easily form underneath the film that can be seen at certain angles, and the film gives off an annoying glare.

Safeguarding your headphone port is left up to a small, screw-like insert that threads into the respective area of the case (pictured above). The inconvenience with this is that you must keep up with the insert. Although an extra is provided, losing the inserts renders the waterproof functionality of the case completely useless. To listen to music requires an additional cable that maintains the waterproof status of the case. Without the cable, you simply can’t plug in any type of headphones. Any in-line remote you have on the cable of your headphones can no longer be used because of the extra cable.

LifeProof promises improved acoustics by using the frē in conjunction with your device. We noticed an evident increase of bass while playing through the phone’s external speakers but also a noticeable drop of maximum volume output.

We really want to like LifeProof’s frē for the iPhone 5 ecstatically. After all, we waited for what seemed like an eternity since the iPhone 5′s release to get our grubby hands on a unit. Each of the flaws mentioned above don’t hinder our impression of the case much, individually, but when considered together, we’re a bit disappointed as a whole. Regardless, all-out, waterproof protection doesn’t come cheap, and if you don’t mind sacrificing a few luxuries, then the $79.99 asking price is definitely worth the dive.

[easyreview title="Our Score" cat1title="Overall" cat1detail="" cat1rating="3"]