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BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Discover which waterproof phone case you should take boating.

April 15, 2014
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BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Otterbox Preserver – iPhone 5s
Included: Wrist lanyard
$89.95; otterbox.com Operations: 2/3
Ease of Installation: 3/3
Earpiece: 3/3
Speaker Phone: 3/3
Skid Factor: 3/3
Waterproof: 3/3 Highs
Case closes with positive snapping seals so there’s no question of a seal.
Charger port and earphone port covers are hinged to avoid loss.
Practically no volume loss and skid-resistant face are big positives. Lows
Fingerprint window is occluded, but we improved recognition by rescanning with the case on.
We had no luck getting the mute button to function — a common gripe on forums.
The case back was slippery, losing grip on the 3-inch inclined acrylic panel we used as a test ramp. Specs
Weight: 1.94 ounces
Waterproof rating: IP-68 (6.6 feet)
Impact rating: 6.6 feet
Installation cycles: Not specified

BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Ballistic Hydra – iPhone 5
$79.99; goballisticcase.com Operations: 2/3
Ease of Installation: 3/3
Earpiece: 2/3
Speaker Phone: 2/3
Skid Factor: 3/3
Waterproof: 3/3 Highs
Light and compact
A simple task to install the rugged three-piece case
Earphone bung attached
Good slip resistance
Compact, low profile Lows
Reduced function of ring/mute button
Noticeable but minor reduction in screen sensitivity Specs
Weight: 1.90 ounces
Waterproof rating: Unrated (manufacturer claims 6.6 feet)
Impact rating: Unrated/6.6 feet
Installation cycles: Not specified

BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Lifeproof Fre – iPhone 5s (4, 4s, Galaxy S3, S4)
Included: Waterproof headphone jack
$79.99; lifeproof.com Operations: 3/3
Ease of Installation: 2/3
Earpiece: 1/3
Speaker Phone: 3/3
Skid Factor: 2/3
Waterproof: 3/3 Highs
Good fingerprint recognition
Concave faceplate gives good touch-screen sensitivity and full functionality.
Tethered earphone bung stays with the case.
Lightweight, slim, low-profile. Lows
Optical glass covers the camera, but a vulnerable membrane covers the flash.
It earns the lowest score for earpiece transmission, blocking 20 db of volume. Specs
Weight: 1.05 ounces
Waterproof rating: IP68 (6.6 feet)
Impact rating: Mil-Std 810G-516.5 (4 feet, 26 times)
Installation cycles: Not specified

BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Snow Lizard SLXtreme 5 – iPhone 5 (iPhone 4, 4s also available)
Included: Lanyard, waterproof headphone jack, mini-USB charger cord
$149.99; snowlizard.com Operations: 2/3
Ease of Installation: 3/3
Earpiece: 3/3
Speaker Phone: 2/3
Skid Factor: 3/3
Waterproof: 3/3 Highs
Adds 16 hours of battery time, plus solar panel can add five minutes of talk time per hour of full-sun exposure.
Screen contact was good; installation is so easy: It opens like a Zippo to receive the phone, so use it only when you want. Lows
I lost the untethered earphone bung.
Mute button is inaccessible.
Case is bulky, but added battery time makes it worthwhile. Specs
Weight: 6.80 ounces
Waterproof rating: IP68 (6.6 feet)
Impact rating: Mil-Std 810G-516.5 (4 feet, 26 times)
Installation cycles: Unlimited

BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Survivor Catalyst – iPhone 5
Included: Wrist lanyard, waterproof headphone jack
$69.99; griffintechnology.com Operations: 3/3
Ease of Installation: 3/3
Earpiece: 2/3
Speaker Phone: 3/3
Skid Factor: 1/3
Waterproof: 3/3 Highs
The clear polycarbonate case allows inspection of the O-ring seals and watertight status.
This was the easiest to install and gave full function to all devices.
Twist-cam mute switch is easy to use. Lows
Polycarbonate is more brittle than other cases are but compensates with inner cushioning.
Membrane, not glass, covers the flash. Specs
Weight: 1.79 ounces
Waterproof rating: IP68 (9.8 feet)
Impact rating: 6.6 feet
Installation cycles: Unlimited

BoatingLAB Tests: Waterproof Phone Cases

Tigra Bravo Aluminum Case – iPhone 5 (iPhone 4, 4s also available)
Included: Waterproof headphone jack, spare cap and screws, assembly tools
$129.99; tigersport.com Operations: 1/3
Ease of Installation: 1/3
Earpiece: 3/3
Speaker Phone: 1/3
Skid Factor: 1/3
Waterproof: 3/3 Highs
Best screen contact and touch functions of any case; cool Humvee look.
Unlimited installation cycles. Lows
The aluminum frame interfered with reception, lowering three bars to one and reducing battery life; Humvee heavy.
Installation is tedious.
The earphone bung has no keeper.
It’s slippery on hard surfaces. Specs
Weight: 3.17 ounces
Waterproof rating: IP68 (6.6 feet)
Impact rating: Unspecified (6.6 feet)
Installation cycles: Unlimited
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