LifeProof frē iPhone Case - Review

Mar 9, 2015
by Mike Levy  
LifeProof fr iPhone case review test
The slim fre case is only marginally larger than the phone itself.
LifeProof fr iPhone case review test
Going with Realtree camo might not be best if drop your phone while in the bush.


While a phone case isn't as exciting for us mountain bikers as a new wheelset or high-end suspension, the fact that so many of us don't leave home without our cellphone in our pocket or pack means that it's worthwhile taking a look at. After all, a new phone can cost as much as those fancy wheels that you've been saving up for, so why not protect it so you can buy the wheels instead of having to replace your phone? LifeProof says that their frē iPhone case is waterproof to two meters, drop proof from up to two meters, and impervious to both dirt and snow, which pretty much covers the gamut of possible scenarios when it comes to mountain biking, save for maybe a bear attack or lightning strike. The case consists of two main components - a front and back - with the front sporting a scratch proof screen cover that works with the iPhone's touchscreen and a Touch ID compatible home screen button cover. Rubberized buttons cover the volume controls, while a captured thread-in plug seals up the headphone jack. LifeProof includes a threaded headphone and auxiliary cord adapter that lets you listen to tunes without sacrificing any moisture protection, and waterproof sections cover the phone's two speaker ports that still allow sound out. The back half of the case is home to a rubber gasket that seals out water when it's closed up while still allowing the camera and flash functions to work, and there's also a hinged door that protects the charging port. The frē iPhone case pictured here is just one of the four different Realtree camo models, and you can also choose from a handful of different colours as well. MSRP $89.95 USD www.lifeproof.com


LifeProof fr iPhone case review test
The hinged port for the charging cable is watertight thanks to the yellow rubber section.
LifeProof fr iPhone case review test
A rubber gasket (the yellow shown at bottom) creates a waterproof seal.

LifeProof fr iPhone case review test

The phone's buttons are covered but all still useable.



Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesThere are all sorts of arguments for leaving your cellphone at home or in the car, but, as someone who rides by myself quite often, I like the piece of mind that having my phone in my pocket brings. Not only can I call for help when I crash so hard that my shoes come off, I can also order a pizza to the lookout if I manage to bonk on the way up. I may or may not be joking. Anyways, being that my phone is with me 24/7, rain or shine, a burly case is a must, but I also don't want one that's the size of a cinderblock, as it needs to fit into the rather small zippered pockets of my favourite shorts. The LifeProof fre case doesn't drastically increase the overall package size compared to a naked iPhone 5, so there's no concerns when space is at a premium, and the plastic body doesn't stick to the inside of a pocket and pull it inside out like a case with rubber protective sections to it tends to. This is small beans overall, but after using a larger, rubberized case that dragged my pocket out every time I pulled the phone, I prefer the slipperier and slimmer LifeProof design. The case's screen protecter doesn't inhibit the phone's touchscreen, even with gloves on, and the Touch ID feature still works as intended, although moisture on the outside of the protector needs to be wiped off so as not to interfere. Glare is certainly more noticeable than when the phone's not in the case, but that's pretty much par for the course. My only real complaint when it comes to day to day function boils down to the pesky headphone adapter that threads into place. I realize that it's an important component in keeping the phone protected against moisture when using headphones, key if you're riding in the rain a lot like I am, but I found it super annoying to be constantly threading and unthreading it when switching the phone from using the auxiliary cord for my van's stereo or with my headphones to having it in my pocket. I also had the rubber seal for the charging port hatch fall out of place a number of times when it was flipped open - I'm not sure how I haven't lost it yet. I take my phone with me on almost every ride, rain or shine, and it's seen everything from being completely submerged underwater to me landing on it after an unplanned dismount (my shoes stayed on). My phone still looks as good as new after all this, which is impressive. That said, the LifeProof case itself has turned out to be far from life proof.

The slim design of the case compared to other, burlier options out there is appreciated, but the cost is a marked difference in reliability. The case pictured here is actually the second in less than a year, with its predecessor managing to pretty much fall to pieces after six months of use. First, the hinged door that protects the charging port self destructed one day when I went to unlatch it, and then the yellow seal that runs around the perimeter of the face plate began to constantly come out of place when I took the case off. Finally, the screen protector separated from the faceplate, rendering the case useless. I'd usually recommend avoiding any product that gave me that amount of trouble, but I should note that the second LifeProof case that I picked up shortly after the first one failed has proven to be much more robust, with no signs of impending destruction. Regardless, I obviously wouldn't tell you to consider the LifeProof case if you're looking for the most protection possible. Also, maybe it's just me, but doesn't $89.95 USD seem like a bit too much for a piece of moulded plastic? - Mike Levy



122 Comments

  • + 181
 What phone case? I don't see it
  • - 90
flag chyu (Mar 9, 2015 at 21:28) (Below Threshold)
 strava!
  • - 75
flag ibishreddin (Mar 9, 2015 at 21:31) (Below Threshold)
 all I see is some dry humor.
  • - 70
flag treymotleyDH (Mar 10, 2015 at 0:23) (Below Threshold)
 Everywhere
  • - 70
flag karoliusz (Mar 10, 2015 at 2:45) (Below Threshold)
 What phone? I only see a case.
  • - 75
flag Boardlife69 (Mar 10, 2015 at 3:07) (Below Threshold)
 Looks like session, enduro specific, see what I did there?
  • - 85
flag Vemunddh (Mar 10, 2015 at 9:57) (Below Threshold)
 I can haz neg props too? Big Grin
  • - 47
flag kdstones (Mar 10, 2015 at 12:33) (Below Threshold)
 Pinkbike be giving neg props like Oprah giving away free cars.
  • + 103
 I'm confused, does this work a 148 mm axle or what?
  • + 30
 147 only. The adapter is coming out but it's $100.
  • + 70
 go home pinkbike, you're drunk
  • + 1
 these cases suck. and if you read the small print, they actually dont back it or provide warranty at all. plus the break.
  • + 9
 I don't get why the hell they still make you buy a case? Why not just make the phone rugidized, price it a bit higher, make some of them with the redneck camo backing and take out these aftermarket phone case hustlers.
  • + 13
 MDRipper you mean a samsung s5 active?
  • + 7
 Bull. I had one phone case have a failed seal and it leaked. They sent out a new one and I got it in a week, no problems with it. My mom and brother have the exact same one (nuud for 5c) and they have zero problems, probably because they don't drop it all the time.
  • + 4
 @MDRipper for the price of phones they should at leas come w a free case!
  • + 3
 @parkourfan its supposed to be "life proof" and rugged. my gf broke her case and iphone by it falling on pavement.. I drop my z10 all the time and have no issues at all.
  • + 21
 "$89.95 USD seem like a bit too much for a piece of moulded plastic" Substitute this exact phrase, but with a different number, into every carbon bike review here.
  • + 3
 I was just refering to the iphone, there are plenty of phones now that do not need cases that are waterproof. I am just suprised that apple hasn't made a bombproof phone yet, the tech is there, i work with GPS units a lot at work and they can be ran over with a steam roller and still work fine, no case needed.
  • + 3
 apple don't want a bombproof phone, its a niche market thats not worth their trouble
  • + 13
 first rule of industrial de$ign...don't make it so it will last.
  • + 1
 @MDRipper you just described my galaxy s5 active
  • + 1
 I will have to check the active out when im due for another upgrade, i used to have a casio phone with no case that was put through the ringer and i really liked it till i lost it (long story). Bottom line all new phones should not need a case, it is not hard to make a good phone that still looks appealing and can take a beating, most people buy cases anyway, why not build it in and make the phones appearance more customizable for the fashionistas, but as fullbug said it would go against rule number 1.
  • + 1
 i've got my iphone in a lifeproof case. it is holding up surprisingly well. going on 2 years. dropped, drowned and buried more times a month during rides or heavy trail work. lucky, i guess. some of the rubberized edging has peeled off but still ticking. it hasn't been tagged by a shovel or mcleod yet though. i don't know the planned obsolescence schedule for it
  • + 1
 Also, copy and paste it onto your girlfriend's FB wall and see what happens.
  • + 1
 I went with a normal s5 - was cheaper and has a wider selection of cases. It was waterproof as well. Ended up paying $50 for a two piece otter box and it's been great so far.

I work on cars and have dropped it in buckets of coolant and then just rinse it off in the sink.

I feel like super obtrusive cases like this one reviewed make the phone less functional by making the screen less sensitive and make the ergo all messed up
  • - 1
 It's called creating a market
Get it now?
Same thing happens with bikes
Create a market= let the money roll in
  • + 2
 Phone companies should stick to making phones, maybe waterproof them, but stay away from "ruggedizing" them. I lf your $1500 (ballpark guess for off-contract, unlocked price of hypothetical phone) rugged iPhone gets a crack in the casing, you need to buy a new phone instead of a much cheaper case. I don't think I would trust a rugged iPhone to be stepped on by a cow, or survive a trip through an augar.

Not to mention most rugged smartphones I've seen are not worth buying. Before the S5 Active pretty much the only one available was the Rugby which is stuck on 2.3 and slow as molasses.
  • + 52
 Hopefully the first and last phone case review on Pinkbike.
  • + 4
 It's a must have for anybody who spends time outdoors, especially in wet conditions. It's so good I've used my phone in the shower. Really only for somebody who needs a waterproof case because touch sensitivity is diminished ... but I used to use an otter box and this blows that away. That one used to fill with water it was actually worse than just leaving the phone unprotected.
  • + 2
 I used a life proof I the shower too. Worked great till I dropped it on the tile floor. Cracked my screen in a million pieces.
  • + 7
 I put my phone in a ziplock sandwich bag. It's been in the river with me countless times while fishing, and has survived leaky camelbacs. Alot cheaper than a $90 case.
  • + 13
 I've had three of these.
The first one was black and I lost it and the phone.
The second, I had the phone on the saddle of a bike while spinning the cranks (bike was in a stand). The phone fell facedown onto the pedal in the upstroke and flew across the room. The thin plastic front cover somehow saved my screen from cracking. Unfortunately a pedal pin pierced the cover just enough to no longer make it water proof.
Third is doing well.
Will probably end up on a fourth when I upgrade the phone.
  • + 17
 Looks a little PHONY
  • + 16
 I bet it will CELL well
  • + 8
 It seems the pun warriors are mobileising
  • + 10
 Case closed
  • + 2
 No please TELUS more
  • + 9
 Sony Xperia are water and dust proof.I love mine. It's Android, and doesn't have the iHike in price just because it is an apple product.
  • + 1
 I agree, i went to the Xperia Z3 from the iPhone 5S and haven't looked back. Mine has had many full on accidental dunkings (including going swimming with it in my pocket because I forgot it was in there) and has been dropped numerous times and it still works (and looks) like a champ.

Apple have a long way to go when it comes to durability etc...
  • + 5
 I picked up the life proof nuud case. Pretty much the same but without the plastic screen protector so you're actually touching the iPhones screen directly. Much better user experience IMO with the same waterproof rating etc, I love mine so far. But I've only had it a couple of months. Time will tell.
  • + 5
 Or do what I do and buy a £10 SIM-free Nokia for riding. Six times less expensive than this case and infinitely more durable.
  • + 3
 Bingo, Nokia for life. My 7250i is still going strong after 12 years, lots of time in the washing machine and high drops. New duct tape about every 6 months is all it needs.
  • + 2
 That's the ticket. I once took my current trail phone to 2000 Trees festival, lost it on the first day, found it two days later in a muddy puddle, still with full battery and missed calls
  • + 2
 This is the only fone that survives water, big drops when fals out of pocket, or forget on car. Although the rubber is coming of, its still water and real shock proof.

all fones break!
www.sonimtech.com/pdf/Core_ds.pdf
  • + 2
 ive got one of these and its been great. when it was new i took it snorkelling and got some great pics. ive have a skateboarder hit it at full speed. its two years old now and tho no longer waterproof as the rubber bits have worn, it still protects it from me having a timmy fit at how slow my iphone 4s is and throwing it at a wall. yes they are expensive but not as expensive as a new iphone.
  • + 4
 I've swam with my iPhone underwater and my lifeproof worked awesome. Also dropped it a few times and never had problems. It's a solid case.
  • + 0
 But it's $90 on top of phone cost... I can go swimming with my Samsung with no case...
  • + 2
 This also protects the phone from scratches and damage. We know the Samsung is waterproof, it's not relevant to needing a case for an iphone.
  • + 1
 believe me its not as water-resistant as they claim, i made sure mine was properly sealed then i dunked it in water for 5 seconds next thing you know there was water in both cameras and the screen stopped working. Samsung should cover it in warranty if it's as water-resistant as they claim and it pisses me off cause its a $200+ fix for the whole new front display for the stupid Galaxy s5
  • + 1
 Please review more cases.
I've been through so many that I've lost track. My life proof fell apart in the same manner you described in less than a year. It lost waterproofing much earlier due to the volume knob tearing open.

I'm on an Otter Box Preserver case now and it works okay at the sacrifice of sound/call quality.

The Lifeproof case feels better but I don't trust them enough to try again. I've seen too many broken in the same ways.

If you sweat for hours on a ride and then jump into a pool to cool off under the assumption that your phone is protected by a waterproof case then it's generally very nice for that case to be, in fact, reliably waterproofed.
  • + 1
 My o-ring for the headphone cover was lost twie already. The first time the company just sent me a new case which I appreciated but I wish they would just glue the thing down. I didn't want to call again because I don't need a whole new case but just re seal.
  • + 1
 My fiance's iphone shit the bed from using one of these cases. She had it on since day one and it never came out of the case, she also never used it underwater or anything like that. She used it when she ran and shed keep it in her bra, the heat she caused from running made moisture form inside the case that could never evaporate out so needless to say water damage ruined it.
  • + 1
 I had a Lifeproof case for my iphone 4S, the screen protector glue melted on it's own after a while, fortunately i saw it before gettin it wet again. I'm very careful with my phone even in a case. There are better cases out there.
  • + 1
 I've had one of these for over a year. Its not pretty and it makes the phone bulkier, but it has saved my phone from near certain death considering the number of times that I have dropped my phone onto hard surfaces. The earphone adapter is a pain in the ass, especially when I lost mine, so now I have to remove the case in order to use earphones. The case also affects sound quality, with multiple people saying that my voice is not as clear with the case as without. Also mine is no longer waterproof as the rubber sleep button has torn.
  • + 1
 As a user of the Fre case for two years, they work great without the bulk of the OtterBox style. But it's nothing new. As to how it ended up on this site? I guess it falls into any other gear review. Their belt clips suck though. I think mine only last 6-8 months at a time before the belt clip breaks. The phone never leaves the holster, the clip just breaks.
  • + 1
 Hey Guys,

Check out HITCASE. Weve got a 6 model dropping in a month. Everything about Hitcase is replaceable so if you break something it can be fixed without buying a while new unit. Were designed in Canada and made in the USA. Also allows you to mount etc. I should add that weve price reduced our iPhone 5/5s/5c stock to $99. If anyone is interested PM me and ill get you some free mounts on top of it.
  • + 1
 No big deal. Just because it doesn't have a handle bar mount doesn't mean it doesn't belong here, especially when you consider the experiments showing phones to be more accurate than GPS units, at least when in cell range. (Haven't seen a study out of cell range yet)
I always am interested in a good case. Life proof in particular is nice when your kid hit the "throw stuff in the toilet" stage.
And besides, at least it is not an apple watch review. Now you can buy a watch that does everything the phone in your pocket already does. . .
  • + 3
 For the low price of $17,000. $89.95 sounds like a a bargain now.
  • + 3
 Thats only for the gold watch. Unfortunately neither of us are joking...
  • - 1
 apple doesn't have gps when not in cell service so it's pretty lame ass.
  • + 1
 False. They have it and use both GPS and cell signal.
  • + 1
 nope not false. its one of the reasons I got ride of my iphone! lose cell service, lose location! f*ck that! it happend at the worst time 2 times and will not trust one again. discussions.apple.com/thread/6469522 read this and learn.
  • + 2
 but yes, they have gps and cellular, but they can't work seperately like a z10 or some andriod phones. you can start those up and use them with no service and find your location. literally a life saver when lost in the bush.
  • + 1
 huh. Another reason to be glad I switched to android. Moto x does gps just fine. In fact the gpx apps are wonderful.

So does strava not work for you when in the back hills?
  • + 2
 I couldn't start strava out of range with the iphone and it would drop out alot randomly and fail or glitch out.. I can on my z10 and i had an android before that had no issues, like you are saying.
  • + 1
 What freaking genius thought of this your riding in autumn leafs on the ground bombing it down your favourite run and woops there goes you iPhone land camp side up that things f*cking gone, why not have the case a bright colour and even glow in the dark ?? I would say that's practical no,
  • + 1
 I bought one. Huge waste of money. Fell apart after a couple months (latch cracked, yellow seal kept coming out) and using the headphone adapter for riding causes the music to constantly cut in and out. I contacted them about the headphone issue and they sent a replacement adapter which did the same.
Personally I would discourage anyone from purchasing, it's junk.
  • + 1
 i have had the same flip phone for over ten years, been lost in snow banks, dropped in more creeks than i can count and has survived many crashes, and still work perfect - f your smart phones and silly $$$ cases - buncha sheep
  • + 2
 My crappy iPhone holds a full batter for about three hours then dies so it has to live on a charger... I'm very soon throwing away this iPhone crap... Hello Samsung ha ha
  • + 2
 Yeah but you can't hear for shit when talking with a lifeproof case user on the phone. But then again, who talks on the phone anymore.
  • + 1
 The echo is so bad with mine (Galaxy S5) that people refuse to talk on the phone with me unless I open the charging port door. Strangely, that fixes the issue immediately. A small annoyance in my mind, for how many drops and watery experiences it has protected my phone from.
  • + 2
 The S5 is already waterproof. Just get a Spigen case for some shock absorption and there you go.
  • + 1
 89.95! Are you kidding? You can get the exact same one for 11bucks here, i have both and they are the same plastic and sealing system. pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=221609428835
  • + 1
 Had my phone in my pack with a life proof case. Went OTB and the only thing holding my phone together was the case. Opened it up and shattered glass everywhere! There goes that fancy wheelset....
  • + 2
 That's like 3 times the worth of my current phone... (Older Nokia, Shock proof by it's nature)
  • + 1
 When I see the word useless in a review then it's kind of game over really. .. who in their right mind buy something described by the reviewer as useless ??
  • + 1
 had mine for 1 year, no leaks. rubber around front edge has come off a couple of places from sliding in and out of my pockets. waterproofness still good
  • - 1
 I've been looking for a new waterproof/crushproof case for my iPhone 6 plus. It really sounds like the Lifeproof is a good option for someone who isn't a skier or mountain biker. Someone whose phone will get wet occasionally in an urban setting but never subject it to any real abuse. My buddy repairs iPhones for a living and says the waterproof case that fails the most often is the Lifeproof. He says if you want to protect your phone in really gnarly conditions you need the www.hitcase.com. It's twice the price but will actually protect your phone and it has an amazing camera adapter that allows you to take great photos when you're out in the wild seeing incredible stuff. I'm waiting for those to be available for the i6+.
  • + 1
 I was gonna get one of those and use it like a gopro, but the case is the size of a brick. No thanks...
  • + 0
 Yeah it's not small. But it will actually protect the phone when you need it to.
  • + 2
 I hope all that casing doesn't interrupt my GPS signal, I need that to see my strava lines.
  • + 2
 your phone case so expensive that you want to buy a case to protect your casing
  • + 2
 Have it, love it, wouldnt use anything else. Buy it and go on with your lifes, enough said.
  • + 1
 Best thing about my lifeproof case was that if you open it 10 times or it stops working...did I say best? I meant worst.
  • - 1
 Lifeproof customer for years with multiple cases and models. Replaced one case due to defect, and had flawless customer service. Waterproof is great. Lifeproof is worth all the penny.
  • + 2
 Do they still make 'em for 26inch?
  • + 1
 I had ine and after a few months some water slowly leaked and broke my phone
  • + 1
 How else are we suppose to fill our Instagram feed with the trail we're riding or the backside of our handlebars?!
  • + 1
 I'm confused....where are the wheels on this thing? Maybe its one of those new "e bikes"....I'm def getting old.
  • + 0
 All that actually doesn't matter...cause Iphone sucks...and that's the true.
  • + 1
 Yeaaah...Now it's time 4 all haters...U can hate me now hahahahaha.
  • + 1
 Sony Xperia, goes into water, nothing appends
  • + 1
 Not for 6 plus?
  • + 11
 Lol that shit is so big you have to use a fanny pack stuffed full of toilet paper.!
  • + 0
 I just received my lifeproof 6+ case yesterday. Works great!! Just order it direct from www.lifeproof.com (Hopefully they still have some left in stock).
  • + 1
 Wait for the Hitcase for i6+.
  • + 0
 Yes, I do use a fanny pack. And they are out on their website.
  • + 0
 Why does that hone only have half of a case, thats a little odd?
  • + 0
 Wait what phone case?? Very confused
  • + 0
 usually there is no network coverage where I ride.... booooo!!
  • - 2
 if you are willing to spend that much on a case do your BRAIN a favor and buy one of these and just add a glass screen protector.

www.pongcase.com
  • + 0
 I think the phone increases emission power when it's antenna is covered or obstructed in any way. It's in their design.
  • + 0
 Lol you can gt one on ebay for £3 with postage
  • + 0
 they should stick Enduro on it and sell it for more
  • + 1
 One for android?
  • + 0
 If you have a s5 which is already waterproof get a Spigen case. A fraction of the cost and will work the same.
  • + 0
 I'm rockin a Casio flip phone...runs like a champ.
  • - 1
 wow this is the dumbest thing since specialized said they weren't going 27.5.
  • + 2
 not when your phone comes off the roof of your car at 100km and hour and survives without a scratch. twice. note to self, stop leaving phone on car roof.
  • + 3
 If you're putting your phone on the roof, then you may want to look into wearing a helmet 24 hours a day.
  • + 0
 @Ianmilley

Need one of these if ur with Cameron XD
  • + 1
 Whats an iphone?
  • + 1
 @AviMoore: It's spelled iBone. They're the world's most expensive paper weights but they're so cheap most people just use them as chew toys for dogs. Apparently they're all the rage with the "cool" kids but I never understood paying so much for a piece of junk that you also have to buy music for, can only run one Web browser on and you can't use third party equipment.
  • + 0
 I wonder how much this review cost
  • + 1
 ditch the phone bitch
  • - 1
 why pink bike, why?..... can we go back to two wheels now?
  • + 0
 $89 is not frē
  • + 0
 Offered in carbon fiber?
  • + 0
 Is it enduro?
  • - 2
 i didnt know pinkbike turned into a multi -gender gear whore now . cool :0

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