Gear Review: Lifeproof Cases and Armbands
I’m definitely one of those folks thad is a fan of taking my phone with me on a run or a ride. It’s not always about listening to music all the time or taking photos along the way, but if anything its about safety. I view it as a just another pound or so of weight and it’s just good to have in case something comes up. The problem I find is two-fold. First, most of the armbands in the market are annoying to use and second and inevitably, my battery will run out. I could use one of the extender batteries, but then these never fit in the normal arm sleeves which is annoying. When Lifeproof offered to send some gear over for the crew to check out, I was first in line to grab one.
As a reference, all of the cases tested were done so with an iPhone 6S although the Lifeproof cases are also available for all other iPhone models as well as various Android phones.
Lifeproof FRE POWER
The FRE POWER case was probably the one I was the most excited for. It is fully enclosed and offers full protection from bother drops and water and yet you can still interact with the screen. Additionally, it provides a battery backup which gives your iPhone two times your existing battery life. It does all this at a size that’s less than 3/4 of an inch. Material wise its a mix of polycarbonate, runner, and silicone. This has now been my go to case for weeks now and typically accompanies me on all longer runs and rides. The pros are many here. First, you can still interact with the phone event though its fully enclosed. It handles any water or sweat without a problem. Best of all, its not that much bigger than other cases out there. You can also charge while its in place and you can do so with a micro-usb cable instead of lightning.
On the negative side there are a couple annoyances. First, getting the unit in the case is really about brute force which I don’t love. You basically put the phone in the bottom piece and then apply pressure at all edges with your fingers as it clicks into place. There is one locking mechanism right near the lightning port, but I wish it had a better way to create the seal that was more consistent. My other annoyance is the silence and volume switches. The plastic here is very rigid making the pressing of it very challenging.
In terms of durability, I have beat the heck out of it and have nothing but good things to report. It has stood up to numerous drops and a ton of sweat. Additionally, the battery backup definitely works as written. I have never actually run out, so the 2X number seems pretty fair.
The FRE POWER comes in black, white, blue, pink, green, and red and is available for $129.99.
The NUUD on the other hand has become my go to daily case. Its super durable and basically has all the trimmings of the FRE POWER, just without the battery backup. It also is a mix of the same materials, but also uses a transparent polymer for there screen protection. Everything else is basically identical to the above including some of the same issues. The sealing problem in particular is even more prevalent here because the polycarbonate exterior is a bit more flimsy. Once in place it works really well.
The NUUD comes in black, white, and blue and is available for $89.99.
Lifeproof Armband with Quick Mount
The Lifeprood Armband weighs in at only around 4oz and comes with the 3 separate band sizes to make sure it fits you properly. The band is simple, but the success is in the mountain system. Along with the band you also receive a square piece that you remove the backing from and adhere to the phone. This becomes the mount point and this is as easy as a puzzle. You simply match the square on your phone to the square extruded piece on the band. There is then a little locking mechanism you flick up which prevents it from being rotated and keeps it snug. So basically once this thing is in place, its not going anywhere. I have found myself taking more photos than ever and its all due to this release mechanism being so simple to use.
The Armband comes in black only and is available for $49.99.
The Lifeproof lineup is solid, but even better is their warranty and the fact they stick with their products. If you ever notice anything going wrong at all, the folks there are eager to respond and help you work through the issue. When it comes to your phone and keeping it protected then there should only be a couple brands to choose from in your head. Lifeproof has definitely emerged at one that’s not only a solid company, but also one that cares a bit more and this is reflected in their warranties and product designs.