2015, Geeky, Technology

Tech Review: Lifeproof iPhone Cases are great but there’s some disappointing issues

EDIT: The more I use this case the less I like it. I cannot recommend this case to you any longer. Read updated review here.

After I shattered the screen on my iPhone 5s for the second time it became clear that I needed to get a case for my iPhone. I travel a lot and use my iPhone to produce 95% of everything you see from me online. I am even writing this post on my iPhone.

My use case is more extreme than most. Not only am I a heavy iPhone user and a klutz, but I have a severe chronic pain condition. This feels slightly better in hot water and humidity. I tend to lock myself in the bathroom with the hot water on for hours, especially over the shitty New Jersey winter. I call this an Asshole Sauna. Why?

Because New Jersey winter.

I take my phone with me during that time so I needed a waterproof case. The Lifeproof case fit the bill. I also liked that the Lifeproof is thinner than the Otterbox I used to own. I had an Otterbox for my iPhone 4 and found that it no longer fit into many small bags and compartments made for phones. I also didn’t like the “sticky” rubber exterior it had and it was not waterproof.

lifeproof case iphone 5

So how is the Lifeproof case? Pretty good, actually. The Lifeproof case does what is says it does. It protects your phone. However for my particular use case I found some significant negatives.

Pros:

Full Protection from Damage: It absolutely does protects your phone from impact and moisture. I’ve abused my phone badly (dropping it, subjecting it to intense humidity) and had no damage to it.

Full Functionality of Fingerprint Unlock: It supports using your fingerprint to unlock your phone. That was unexpected and a great feature.

Form Factor: It’s thin and still fits into all of my purses and related phone compartments.

Easy to use: It was pretty easy to put the case on my phone. You wouldn’t want to take it off and on all the time but it was a damn sight better than some of the shit that I’ve used back in the day for Palm and Pocket PC.

Unfortunately the Lifeproof falls short in 2 key areas that are making me discontinue using it. It prevents me from using my camera and my headphones to their full functionality.

Cons:

Obstructing the camera: No matter how meticulous I am when cleaning and installing the case I detect a decrease in photo quality. As a travel blogger this is a big negative. The iPhone is already not the world’s best camera. That hit to its quality is enough to get me to not want to use it. It reminds me of my old iPhone camera without the case when I had slightly water damaged my lens.

I can honestly say to you that the reason my posts have been lighter here is because I can’t bring myself to post more marginally foggy/blurry photos. I’m buying a separate point and shoot camera with Wifi/Bluetooth image transfer to iPhone to get around this permanently.

The headphone jack is THE god damn WORST: This is my major gripe with it. This impacts the main functionality of the phone – to make and receive calls. You can say goodbye to using your headphones to talk to anyone on your phone if you get a Lifeproof. The headphone jack has to be unscrewed and you have to screw in a very easy-to-lose cable every time you want to connect your headphones.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if the damn thing connected properly. Every time I screwed it in and began a call there was an 80% chance that the person on the other end of the phone would be unable to hear me but I would be able to hear them. It didn’t matter how tightly it was screwed in. That was super embarrassing when I was speaking to a CEO or a corporate sponsor on business.

I was able to listen to music for a time with no issue aside from the slightly annoying extra bit of work connecting the cables. I insist on listening to music when I drive. Every time I got into my car I’d have to find this cable in my purse, screw it in, and then connect my audio cable before I could drive away listening to some kick ass metal. This is fine but the cable quickly became damaged and crackly like some dollar store headphones I got in the 90s.

It’s a pain in the ass to attach this cable if you are just going into a store and coming back outside so your impulse is to leave the cable attached to your case and put the phone in your bag for easy reconnection later. Unfortunately I found it doesn’t take much to damage the cable. This was very disappointing considering the case itself is absolutely amazing.

Conclusion:

I love my Lifeproof iPhone case. It’s truly an amazing case but there are some deal-breaker (to me) negatives involving the camera and the headphone connector cable. I could probably throw the phone into a volcano of farting T-Rex and it would still survive thanks to this amazing case. It’s slim and it fits almost everywhere your current iPhone will without issue. If protection from damage is your main goal and you don’t care about using the camera or headphones jack much this is the case for you.

I hope they come up with a better solution than this for the camera and the headphones. I’ll be abandoning my Lifeproof as soon as I find a better alternative. The fact that my headphone cable is damaged may make me abandon it sooner. I can’t live without music in my car and I’m not interested in buying a replacement cable since it never allowed me to fully use the headphones to begin with. Some small adjustments would make this the ultimate iPhone case and the only case anyone would ever need for anything. Even farting T-Rex.