Review: LifeProof Case for iPhone 4 and iPhone 5


Reviewed by:
On August 21, 2014
Last modified:August 20, 2014


LifeProof has served me well as a protective case for my iPhone allowing me to bring my phone to any activity and in any weather. My only major complaint is it's a pain to listen to music with the case on.


LifeProof claims to be waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof, and shock proof. I have tested the LifeProof Case for both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5—read on for the verdict.

I first purchased the LifeProof Case for my iPhone 4 while living in Costa Rica. I was looking for an overall protection solution from rain, sweat, sand, and my clumsy hands. Everyday, I walked four miles along the beach and oftentimes was showered by a tropical downpour. The LifeProof Case has proved valuable and reliable, however there are a few aspects that could use improving.

Waterproof ★★★
The case has an excellent waterproof design but it does require some care by the user. There are 16 points that snap around the perimeter, you need to make certain they are all snapped in order to create a complete seal. Secondly, the clip that protects the charging component must be secured shut. Finally, the screw top for the audio plug must be in place and tight.

I have snorkeled with my iPhone 4 in this case, I even filmed inside a waterfall taking direct hits from the giant without suffering leaks. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend you take your phone into a waterfall, but if you absolutely must, this thing does the trick. It also decided to take a dive into a waterfall pool, and 15 minutes later once I managed to get it back out, it was surprisingly undamaged.

I recently purchased an iPhone 5 and the LifeProof Case for the iPhone 5—it pretty much looks the same as previous versions, just modified to fit the new configuration. One of the biggest downfalls to the LifeProof iPhone case is the audio port plug. It’s small, and extremely easy to use.

That being said, I managed to lose the one for my iPhone 5. So I decided to put the iPhone 4’s cap on the 5 instead. Grave mistake—they look identical, but ARE NOT identical. After a little bit of swimming, my phone it suffered irreparable damage. Take home message—don’t confuse the audio caps if your family has an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 5 in the mix.

All of the underwater footage taken in this video was captured with an iPhone 4 through a LifeProof Case.

Shock Proof ★★★
Yes. It is most definitely shock proof. It may look skimpy and sketchy, but it holds its own extremely well. I have dropped my phone from varying heights ranging from six feet to chair height landing on asphalt, concrete, tile, and carpet. Not impressed? My father-in-law took his iPhone 4 and LifeProof Case zip-lining in Costa Rica and dropped his phone over a hundred feet into the jungle. The first miracle occured later that day when he drove out on a quad and found his phone. The second miracle was when he discovered the phone made it unscathed. The case absorbed all of the shock and was totaled, but it did it’s job.

Dust/Sand Proof ★★★
I don’t recommend you ever do this, but I dropped my phone in the sand. I immediately rinsed off the case and found that very little sand remained. While my phone was sand-free, there were a few granules found in the snap at the bottom of the case that protects the charging component.

Freeze Proof ★★★
Most of my experience with LifeProof cases have been in the tropics, not normally a place to check its Freeze-Proofing potential. However, in order to check this out for myself, I put the phone in the freezer for five minutes. My phone was super cold, but fine. I noticed that in the heat it overheats fairly easy, so I’d imagine that the insulation properties are fairly effective.


Access to Your Audio Outlet
While the case is waterproof, it’s a pain in the butt to listen to music. You have two choices: you can remove the tiny cap and hope you don’t lose it and plug in apple ear buds (because most other earbuds won’t fit into hole—you have to remove the phone from the case to use most other headsets) or screw in the audio adapter that comes with the phone so that you could theoretically listen to music and keep the phone waterproof. The adapter seemed like the best way to go for me, but I found problems with it early on. I was extremely gentle with it, since I had read reviews that it was flimsy, and yet on the second use the rubber split open and the wires shorted. The other problem is it’s awkward to keep on the phone. If you use your phone as an MP3 player regularly this could be a big deterrent.

Heat issues
Direct sun is not a friend of LifeProof. The phone will register a temperature warning if it’s in direct hot sun for more than five minutes or so. Make sure and cover the phone with a shirt, or place it in the shade.

Product Consistency
I’ve had to request a replacement twice through the warranty program. Thankfully the program is excellent and lasts a year, however, I was forced to replace two out of four cases through the program. Those kind of statistics are less than ideal. For me, the repetitive defect was the peeling of the outer rubber-lining, which over time, will compromise your waterproof seal.

Screw Sizes and Confusion
The fact that the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 audio caps looked identical but were not, a lesson I learned after I drowned my iPhone 5, is a problem that cost me dearly.

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