Cell phones and water don’t mix, which by extension means that cell phones and sailing don’t mix. Although I usually leave my phone belowdecks while I’m actually sailing, I once managed to fall overboard while the boat was sitting happily on its mooring—goodbye one brand new Nokia. So when I acquired a $500 iPhone 4S, I decided not to take any chances and ordered a Lifeproof waterproof case.
I’m impressed with the construction and engineering of this rugged case. It’s amazingly compact, adding little to the bulk or weight of the iPhone. The two parts of the case snap together, with an O-ring providing waterproofing. There’s a hinged waterproof cover for the power lead and the headphone jack is protected by a screw-in plug. This feature will annoy those who use their phone for music; you need to screw in an adapter, which then receives the headphone plug.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual. Optical glass in front of the camera lens means photo quality is undiminished; watertight membranes over the mic and speaker apertures hardly affect sound quality; the protective plastic over the screen is a little less sensitive and you have to tap a bit more assertively, but you quickly get used to that. Also, third party power leads won’t fit—only the more expensive Apple products.
The case is not intended to be removed often; in fact I’ve never taken it off in the several months I’ve owned it. It’s supposed to be waterproof to 6 feet, but I haven’t tested that. I’ve just enjoyed not worrying about using my phone in the rain or in the generally damp environs of a boat.
Improvements? Provision for a lanyard, and maybe some rubber inserts on the back of the case so cold wet hands can grip it better and so it doesn’t slide so easily when you put it down on a heeling boat.
At a hair under $80 MSRP this isn’t a cheap case, but you can pick one up for under $60 online.