Hi, and welcome again to another episode of Home Techonomics here at lynda.com, I'm Garrick Chow. When it comes to my mobile phone I've never been one to use a case for either aesthetic purposes or for day to day protection. I tend to prefer the phone at its actual thickness and weight. And it's usually much easier to use and attach accessories to your phone when you don't have to pop it into and out of a case all the time. But whether you use a case or not there are definitely times when you'll probably want a little more protection for your phone. For me, I was looking for something that would allow me to shoot photos with my phone while near or even in water, as well as protect it from dust, dirt and rain when I'm out for a run.
I tried out several cases from different manufacturers and I finally settled on a line of cases from a company called Lifeproof. Lifeproof offers a line of water and shock-proof cases and accessories for Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPods. As well as for Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones. They come in two main model types, the frē and the nüüd. The frē is a complete enclosure, the front and back panels snap around your device and once the bottom latch is closed the phone is completely water-proof.
According to the company it's water-proof to a depth of six and a half feet for up to an hour. It's also rated to withstand a drop of up to six and a half feet as well. While inside the case the phone is still completely operable. And for devices like the iPhone 5S or the Galaxy S5 you can even still use the fingerprint sensors to unlock your phone. Lifeproof's nüüd line of cases are for people who don't like having that transparent cover on their screens. Instead, the nüüd features no screen cover whatsoever on its front panel.
It has a rubber rim around the border of the front panel so that when the case is snapped over your device a water-proof seal is formed, leaving just the glass screen itself exposed allowing you to touch the screen directly. Buttons and openings around the case still let you use all the interface elements of your device, including the camera. And it has the same water-proof and drop-proof ratings as the frē line of cases. Both cases have a latch at the bottom you can open to charge your device without removing the case.
Of course, it's not going to be water-proof with the latch open but you probably shouldn't try to charge your phone underwater anyway. Admittedly it's a little nerve-racking using either case in the water the first time, especially the nüüd line where the screen is exposed. But Lifeproof water tests every case they ship and they also give you the tools and instructions to test your case yourself before trusting your device to it. With the frē iPhone case the instructions were included to seal the empty case and submerge it with a heavy object, like a coffee mug, for several minutes underwater to see if any water gets into the case.
Now since you can't submerge the new case empty it ships with this plastic test unit you can place in the case, which you can them submerge to test if any water gets in. So those are the two lines of cases put out by Lifeproof. I'm a big fan of these cases because they're extremely lightweight and they don't add a lot of bulk to your phone or tablet device. It's also nice to have a case that turns my phone into an underwater camera, which is a lot of fun at the pool or at the beach. It's especially nice to have this case on at the beach to protect the phone from sand and sea water. Lifeproof also offer a wide selection of accessories for their cases like bike handle mounts and armbands.
I use this armband when I run in the rain. The case snaps in and out very easily, which I found very useful when I want to snap a quick photo on my runs. The phone cases also ship with a headphone adapter which will allow you to listen to your music on your device while it remains water-proof. If you have a set of water-proof ear buds and the armband you could even listen to music while swimming laps at the pool. Now, while I really like these cases I use them for very specific purposes. Mainly when I'm in environments where I'm worried about the safety of my device.
So if I'm gonna be running in wet weather or expect to be near water or at the beach, I'll pop my phone into the case. But I don't use the case on a daily basis, especially not on my phone. First of all, because it protects the speakers and microphones by covering them the sound quality of your calls suffers a bit, both on your end and on the end of the person you're talking to. And while you can still hear audio from the built-in speakers if you're say, watching a YouTube video, it comes out kind if muffled. And the speakers built into mobile devices generally aren't that great to begin with. These aren't really deal-breaking problems but they're enough of an issue that I prefer not to use these cases until I know I'll need them.
Also, it's worth mentioning that Lifeproof cases aren't cheap. Depending on the device you want to protect, the cases run between $70 to $120 dollars. Although in my experience they've offered some pretty great discounts around the holidays in the past. So if you can wait, it might be worth keeping an eye on the Lifeproof site towards the end of the year for any deals that may pop up. Overall though, I'm a big fan of these cases and even though I don't use them overyday I always have them with me, just in case. And that does it for this week, I'm Garrick Chow and I'll see you next time on Home Techonomics.