I’ve had my iPhone 4s for almost two full years. But since I bought it, I’ve almost never touched the slick glass screen.
That’s because it has lived almost entirely inside a LifeProof phone case since the day I bought the phone and case from a local Sprint store.
For those who have not yet heard of it, LifeProof makes waterproof (to 6.6 feet), drop-resistant phone cases designed for the outdoors or just life in general. The model I’ve used entirely covers the phone, including a plastic sheet over the front screen. (The brand’s Nuud models are also waterproof but allow the user to touch the actual screen.)
The cases aren’t cheap, ranging from about $80-$90 for phone models, to $130 for those built for tablets. The San Diego company was recently purchased by Fort Collins, Colo., based Otter Box, which has maintained the brand and offices in Califonia.
After two years of almost never touching the actual surface of my phone, it was with no small bit of curiosity that I popped the phone out of its case to examine its condition.
As I pulled apart the halves of the very beat up LifeProof Case, my remarkably fragile looking iPhone fell into my hands. It appeared brand new, with barely a scratch or even finger print.
Wow, I thought. I am not easy on equipment. Inside the case (which itself is seriously worn out), the phone has been tossed in pockets and ridden shotgun on power boats. I’ve dropped it in lots of puddles, taken it swimming accidentally and carried it through hours-long rain storms.
In the winter, the phone (in the case) has been battered by long falls down ski slopes and dozens of full days in my jacket pocket, bouncing around with keys and lunch and water bottles and lord knows what else. It’s even run a couple ultra-marathons with me.
I am impressed, especially given the long period of time this case has served the phone. With the kind of abuse my outdoors lifestyle dishes out, I’m pretty sure the phone would have long ago died without the case.
Of course the LifeProof case has drawbacks. You can’t easily plug headphones into the phone without an adapter, an adapter that is really easy to lose and tends to never be in my pocket when I want it. The case also muffles the phone on speaker mode, making phone calls a little harder to understand.
You press the screen though a plastic sheet. While this does effectively protect the screen, the phone becomes a little less responsive to touch. After two years it doesn’t bother me, but those who are used to the light tap of an uncovered screen might consider Lifeproof’s “Nuud” models.
Another caveat: The case has a tendency to switch the ringer on the side of the phone inadvertently off or on. This is annoying, as you can miss calls if it’s accidentally switch off.
So after taking some photos of the phone (the entire time afraid that I’d drop its shiny glass body), I tucked it back into the case and into my pocket. Looks like it probably has a few more years to go.
If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors or are just tough on phones, this case is one purchase that can save a lot of money over the course of a couple years.