In the past using an all-encompassing protective iPhone cases meant sacrificing the sleek Apple aesthetic for a larger cases such as an Otterbox Defender. In the past cases designed to protect from more severe hazards tended to be bulky. Today’s review item helps change that by allowing your iPhone to face water, dust, snow and shock all in a svelte housing.
The LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case is a totally protective case that adds only 1/16” and 28 grams to the iPhone 4/4S. It is thoroughly waterproof including over the mics and speakers and can work at a depth of 6.6 ft. Lifeproof also added a scratch resistant screen protector and anti-reflective optical glass lens for the camera. The case itself is composed of a shock absorbing elastomer allowing it to absorb the impact of a traumatic blow instead of the iPhone 4/4S.
Lifeproof ships the iPhone 4/4S Case in a black cardboard package with a picture of the case covering an iPhone as it falls into some muddy looking water. On the back are two more images of the case housing an iPhone along with a picture of the headphone adapter and listing of features of “proofs” as this company likes to call it.
The front of the box flips up to reveal the case through a plastic window on the main section while the inside of the flip cover describes the levels of protection provided by the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case.
The package’s sides show the actual profile size of the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case.
The case is designed to fit both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S so there is only one model to select. However there are several color choices available including black/black, pink/gray, purple/black, white/gray, blue/black, green/black, orange/black, teal/black and red/black. For today’s review we received the white/black version.
Opening the package we see the case with a headphone adapter nestled in a recyclable cardboard holder. Behind the front of the case is a cleaning clothing, an information sheet and the back of the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case.
Behind the cardboard iPhone insert found in the front of the case is a sheet with a QR code that takes the user to the instruction website found here.
The LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case is composed of a front cover and back cover that hermetically seal the iPhone 4/4S within. Looking at the inside of the case’s front section we see a scratch resistant water proof screen protector along with an access opening for the headphone jack that has a screw on headphone jack cover preinstalled. The power and volume controls are all encased by elastomer material.
At the base is a large opening for the dock connector with two opening on each side for the speakers that are also sealed with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. This same membrane is also found on the back of the screen protector covering the opening for the phone’s earpiece. In addition LifeProof placed sound channels within this front section to transmit sound out of the case.
The back cover features a large O-ring which rests in a channel on the periphery that is designed to seal the back of the case making the LifeProof case waterproof. This O-ring is the key to making the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case protect your iPhone from the elements. It is utterly important to keep it clean at all times or else your iPhone will not be totally safe. Also found on the back is a latch for covering the dock connector. Two lens windows cover the camera and flash of the iPhone 4/4S.
The top of the case has a screw on headphone jack cover when tightened makes this access point water and dust proof as well. A headphone adapter is provided which screws in place of this cover but does not provide a watertight seal.
For those wanting additional accessories Lifeproof also sells a belt clip and bike mount along with waterproof headphones and a spare headphone adapter.
iPhone 4/4S Case
Your LifeProof everyday case is refined, convenient and unobtrusive.
LifeProof gives you the freedom to make your iPhone your constant companion — so get your case on and Let’s Go!
Take your iPhone along, wherever life may take you.
- Protection: Protects against every-day hazards
- Freedom: Ability to swim and take underwater or anywhere
- 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)
- Full Functionality: Double AR-coated optical glass lenses provide unprecedented crystal-clear photo and video quality
- Waterproof vents on all mics and speakers
- Anti-reflective optical glass lens
- Waterproof and dirt-proof seals on case and port
- Scratch-resistant, waterproof screen protector
- Polycarbonate frame
- Non-stick cover
- Shock-absorbing elastomer
Installation of the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case is not as straightforward as popping the Apple phone into the case. You will need to go here to get the instructions and tutorials. Before installation you will need to test the waterproof capability of the case with the water test, which involves assembling the case and submerging it for an extended period of time.
After this test you will need to separate the front from the back to install the iPhone 4/4S. Removing the case requires care as not to bend or damage the water resistant capabilities of the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case. Installation of the iPhone 4/4S requires careful cleaning of the entire phone along with a vigilant inspection of the case’s interior. A speck of dirt, hair or dust can impede the waterproof seal. This information is repeatedly stressed on the video and in the downloadable manual. If you don’t wish to waterlog your iPhone, then I would recommend you heed this information.
Once housed inside the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case the iPhone 4/4S gains a slight increase in height and some width. On the face are waterproof openings for the camera, proximity sensor, and microphone; a cover replicates the home button’s appearance as well. On the back of the case is an embossed LifeProof logo along with icons for the four “proofs”. The camera and flash are covered by anti-reflective optical glass lens.
On the top of the case are the power button and a screw covering the headphone jack. To use your headphones you will need to attach the included headphone connector cable then screw it into the case. The left side of the case covers the volume and the mute switch. Activating the silence switch works in the opposite direction to the iPhone.
Flipping down the protective latch accesses the dock connector. One drawback to this case is you will need to use the standard Apple dock connector cable instead of a dock.
For testing I used the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case at the beach and during vacation. I was able to test its ability against water, dust and shock; since it is summer the snow testing will have to wait until December. The case worked as advertised as my iPhone 4S well protected from debris and sand when exposed to those elements. In the past I would avoid taking my iPhone 4S out during water sports but with the LifeProof in place there was no worry.
The lens protecting the camera was sharp and crystal clear, as photos taken with it in placed looked exactly the same as ones shot with the naked iPhone 4S.
Underwater the camera was well-protected and shot excellent video as well. My friend Carmelo Sottile helped shoot this scene while scuba diving in the Dominican Republic.
The main drawback to this case is once you load the iPhone 4/4S into it, you’ll be committed to keeping it in there unless you want to undergo the laborious process of making sure the iPhone 4/4S and case a pristine clean. This is not a case you will throw on and off your phone quickly.
One issue I did notice is sometimes there was an “oil on water” effect between the screen shield and the iPhone screen. This may have been due to some air being trapped in the case, which tends to happen. Pushing this area out would remedy the problem but it would eventually come back. Also the protective screen does not have the same texture as the Apple touch screen making interacting on the iPhone seem slightly different as the it has a slicker and less responsive surface.
Requiring a headphone adapter was a little discombobulating at first but as long as the same pair of headphones are used, you can keep the adapter attached to them when not using the headphones with the iPhone 4. A handy little holder on the adapter allows the screw to be stored there when the headphone connector is plugged into the case. Lifeproof also provides an extra headphone cover screw in case you lose the one that came on the case.
Acoustically one would think the iPhone would sound muffled in this time of sealed case. Much to my surprise the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case transmitted sound whether it was music or phone calls almost as if the iPhone was sitting outside of the case. There was a slight decrease in volume but the sound was otherwise clear.
The durability of the case is also a question mark as this case is much thinner than an OtterBox Defender. It is likely that the case would absorb a major trauma protecting the iPhone but the case may suffer structural damage affecting it ability to keep it’s water tight integrity. For instance I did notice that the case especially the back section was more prone to gouges in the plastic. This did not affect the seal of the case but did make for some rough edges.
While it is not the perfect protective case it excels at working in water as long as all the seals are checked and maintained by the user. It helps turn the delicate Apple phone into a GoPro like action camera.
For those who like switching their iPhone 4 cases like they change clothes then the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case may not be the right choice as it requires some effort for installation and removal. However, the LifeProof iPhone 4/4S Case is the ideal case for those who lead an active lifestyle and wish to keep their iPhones safe from most every kind of danger.
+Works well underwater
-Removal can be tedious
-Requires headphone jack adapter
-Cannot charge with dock
-Screen protector could be better
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