Emergency Communications

Lifeproof Cases – Survival Life Tested



Lifeproof Case Review - Survival Life Tested

Well, I got my hands on the Lifeproof NUUD Case the other day and gave it a good hard test over the weekend, including bashing it in my pocket while climbing, dropping it down rock jetties, and (temporarily) losing it in the pacific ocean for a few minutes while reeling a 42-inch Shovelnose Guitar fish onto the shores of Venice Beach, CA. This case says it helps your electronic device face the challenges of going down in 6ft. of water, as well as protecting it from snow, rain, dust, and shock hits, all for around $90 after tax.

I had been curious since its release to know if this case would finally turn my phone into the new reliable digital survival tool. Some people online have reported it doesn't work, and yet large organizations like the University of Colorado can't seem to get enough of them for their employees in field use. 

Man Dives into the ocean off Spain's coast using Lifeproof to capture sea turtle photo

Review of the Lifeproof Nuud Case | Field Test Results

I purchased my NuuD case from my local Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) store, and the first thing I did when I got home was test it in the sink. The company says that they water test ALL their cases at the factory, but the instructions advise you to place the case under water for 30 minutes to double check before putting your phone inside. Can't say I blame them, they even provide a blue plastic fake iPhone to test in it.

Test Before You Use

 The case's rubber edges seal around the iPhone screen when properly installed, so that the glass of the iPhone essentially becomes the waterproof case's glass. So if you have a smashed-up screen already, don't count on it being waterproof. They also advise re-testing after repeated use, so that you can check to make sure the seals have not been damaged in your pocket from weeks of abuse.

Here's the thing: IT DID leak a bit during my first test of the case when I followed the instructions for water testing. It leaked a very tiny amount right in the same place I had read online that others had complained about: the phone's ear speaker. The mesh screen that covers that part had a little moisture come through. Not whole drops, really, just a little condensation stuck to the inside of the mesh that could damage the ear speaker over long exposure. People have reported online that, when this happened, the phone was still in working condition, but that they had to get the $19 ear speaker inside the phone repaired.

My guess is the people online didn't check their case first like I did, or they could have got a new one from Lifeproof under their 1-year warranty that protects against manufacture defects. 

Lifeproof Nuud Case Review, Survival Tech , modern survival tips

The area circled in red shows you the moisture in the center of the mesh leaking through. The droplet along the outer edge of the case are just drops from outside that rest on the o-ring's outer edge, not a leak.

Lifeproof's Guarantee: What Happened When I Called

I called Lifeproof, who was more then willing to send me a new one under warranty right away as soon as I explained what I saw. The man on the phone actually let it slip that it may have been a case from a bad batch where the waterproof spray was incorrectly applied to the screen. He also suggested, since I purchased from an REI store, to just return to the store for an exchange (REI accepts manufacture warranty returns). This way, I didn't have to mail my faulty case to them and wait for new one in the mail under warranty. I was in and out of REI with a new case in 10 minutes. I got home with my new case and retested it, with no issue of visible water this time by the mesh.

I was still a little worried about the screen, so as a “just to be on the safe side” step, I took some silicone water repelling spray I normally use on my boots and covered the case's O-rings to protect them, leaving only the face plate and mesh speaker areas showing. This will probably void the Lifeproof warranty, but I like the added safety, and now water just beads right off the case. 

I hit the beach towards sundown with my phone in my pocket. I climbed down the rock jetties and threw some surf perch on the hooks; perch I had caught earlier in the day while waiting for REI to open its doors for the exchange. Not a bad use of time, if you ask me.

I cast out and waited on the rocks for about an hour before the reel started screaming and taking line off, with enough force I figured it had to be a Guitarfish, bat ray, or my ever hopeful Leopard Shark. So of course, while grabbing the pole and balancing on the jagged sharp rocks, I tried to fish out my phone to be ready to capture my prize on video.  

You know what came next: My phone was on its way mid air before it hit a few rocks on the way down, then landed in a frothy bath of ocean water. I watched it settle to the ground about four feet below the surface as I set the hook into the fish and began tightening the line. The bright green case stood there glaring up at me from the murky brown sand below. I prayed the case would do its job, because I'll admit right here I'd rather lose the janky rod I was using than the phone, but I wanted to test that darn case!

I got a good amount of line reeled in, then I jumped down under the water to grab the phone before the waves took it out more, all while holding the reel above my head (still screaming as the fish took another rush out to open ocean). I put the phone back into my pocket and then waded up to the beach shore, dripping from my shoulders down, and still fighting to drag the fish up onto the beach.

I finally landed a very nice Guitarfish, 42-inches measured at full length on the sand. I had a crowd around me by then, so I field dressed him fast. I headed home as seagulls, pelicans, and crabs made off with the entrails so that nothing was wasted. My phone was still in my dripping wet pockets, as I struggled to the Jeep with my fishing gear in one hand, and three-plus feet of pure meat in the other. Several people stared at me in awe, surprised something that big was swimming around their feet in the same beach. Makes me laugh how little people know about the wild they love to play in.

Field Test Results

The phone had survived it all, with just two little dings in the case's plastic edges from the rocks. I went home and I remembered I needed take a photo of this sucker as proof for this post. So before I cut him into steaks, I grabbed my phone (that would have been destroyed otherwise that day), still in its Lifeproof case, and snapped the photo below. It made for many fish tacos that night with my family, and I shared some meat with the neighbors to boot.

Lifeproof Nuud Case Review, Survival Tech , modern survival tips

A nice shot of the tail end of a Guitarfish, a member of the Shark & Ray family, ready to be made into fillets. Photo all thanks to Lifeproof.

Quick Note:

Touchscreen phones won't work with water on them, as many function based off static or heat touch from a finger. The water will stop them from sensing your fingers. This can make it tricky to use in wet conditions, so ideally you want your phone's camera rolling BEFORE it gets wet. Additionally, you can usually set it so the phone's volume button controls the camera: open the camera feature and set the + sound button to operate photos and video, that way the iPhone won't need to be operated via the touch screen.

Also, the company Lifeproof does have a $10 protection plan that will fully replace any device that was water damaged while in the case, which is valid for 1 year from date of purchase. HOWEVER, this protection MUST be purchased with the phone case at the time of purchase, and it MUST be bought from a certified Verizon store or Lifeproof's website. I found out by purchasing my phone case from REI locally that I did not qualify to sign up for the water protection plan. I guess that's one of the the downfalls of sourcing locally.

Lifeproof's Water Protection Program Info

I would suggest checking out the Lifeproof Life Jacket too if around water like I was all day testing this case. It's just what it sounds like: a perfect flotation device for your phone. I was lucky the water my phone fell in wasn't deeper, or the Iphone could have gone beyond the 6ft depth the case is rated to go. Had I taken this case out on my kayak to my favorite spot off the coast of Malibu for some kelp bed fishing, I have no doubt in my mind that phone would have gone 60 feet below to sleep with the fishes.

It might not be bulletproof, and it could certainly leak if you aren't careful and don't test it first, but this is one tough case. It gives you miles of protection from environmental hazards that normally would kill a phone in seconds. From now on, my phone lives in Lifeproof.

Stay safe (and dry…and above water) out there!

Want to know more? Check out other posts from us:

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  1. Chris

    July 14, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    There are 2 big issues with the Lifeproof case, the first is that there are more fakes than real Lifeproof cases, in fact some big chain stores have even “unknowingly” sold fake cases so you never know what you’re getting, and the second issue is if LifeProof really believed in their case they would give some sort of warranty for the device in the case. Sure they warranty the case itself but if the case leaks, it’s not the case I’m worried about, it’s the $800 cell phone inside it I care about.

    • Sean Watkins

      July 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Hi Chris,

      True about the fakes, it was on my mind when I saw the leak when I tested this item before I called Lifeproof, and confirmed it was Authentic.

      I think this is what Lifeproof is trying to address by pushing people to now buy it direct from their official online store (to know its 100% real) , and also so you can buy the $10 water protection plan that DOES replace your device.

      Honestly, $800 phone replaced for $10 if something happens, is pretty solid.

      I can tell you as an open water diver, and experienced underwater camera operator. No water proof case for scuba has any type said warranty plan for devices like Lifeproof provides, and those scuba rigs cost well over $10,000 for the housing case you buy to protect the many thousands of dollars camera. So the fact a company is willing put a protection plan out there of any kind when dealing with water cases ( even if you do have pay little extra ), is pretty amazing.

  2. HaroldCole

    August 6, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    A buddy of mine purchased one of these cases, and noticed his phone was getting way to hot while inside the case. Before he he had any major issues with his phone he decided to switch cases. He suspected that the case was too enclosed – causing heat to build up. Has anyone else noticed this issue?

  3. Investigations Toronto

    May 18, 2018 at 10:14 PM

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