2.28.2015

Review - LifeProof Nuud for iPhone 6

Snow Proof?  Check!


LifeProof is definitely the go-to case when it comes to waterproofing your iPhone.  They offer outstanding protection for your mobile devices without the bulk you might expect from other products.  This is the long awaited LifeProof Nuud for iPhone 6.  In this review we'll put this case through it's paces and see if it lives up to the LifeProof name.



If you're not familiar with the Nuud series of LifeProof cases, it was the first case on the market to provide complete waterproof protection while not obstructing the screen.  Other cases put a plastic screen protector between you and your phones screen, including the LifeProof Fre.  The LifeProof Nuud however uses a gasket to seal the edge of the case to the screen to keep dust and moisture out.  I've never been a huge fan of screen protectors because of smudging, rainbowing, and interfering with the touchscreen responsiveness.  

The idea of waterproofing your iPhone without covering the screen is pretty amazing, but it definitely has it's downsides.  LifeProof provides a plastic test unit inside of the case and a note assuring you that your case has already been water tested.  To give you extra confidence that it works they recommend you put the case under water with the plastic test unit inside and place a coffee cup over the case to keep it submerged for 30 minutes.  If after the test there's no water in the case then you can reasonably assume your iPhone will fair the same.  If you plan to purposely get your phone wet you'll want to take the case apart and inspect the seal for debris that may interfere with it's ability to block out moisture.  I've used a LifeProof Nuud case on my iPad Mini for several months and the few times I've taken the case apart I have found debris between the gasket and the glass that probably would degrade it's waterproofing ability.  You'll also want to be careful when disassembling the case that you don't pull the gasket out of the case. If it does come out just carefully place it back in the groove of the case to reassemble. 

Otherwise it's a really great design and ultimately what makes the Nuud series the top pick for a waterproof iPhone case.  Of course since there's no screen protector your iPhone is subject to screen scratches.  LifeProof does include a screen protector that covers only the parts exposed outside of the case.  If you choose to use this you'll definitely want to install it with the case on.  If any of the screen protector gets between the gasket and the screen your iPhone is no longer waterproof.  That goes for any third party screen protectors as well.  It's possible that some of the glass screen protectors would still provide a decent enough sill to block out water but chances are they'll make your device too thick and I wouldn't recommend using them.

You install your iPhone in the case by placing the bottom of the phone into the front of the case and firmly pressing down. You then snap on the back making sure the entire case is snapped down all the way around. I usually go over it twice just to be sure all the sides are snapped. When finished close the flap for the Lightning port. When installed correctly you should notice the O-ring pressed between the screen and the case. 

The case does add a decent amount of width and height to the phone with this plastic bumper that can make the phone more difficult to hold, but that's what makes it shock proof. I do find myself not using it one handed because of the extra width. Thankfully it's still a very thin case on par with a lot of standard non-waterproof cases. 

Taking a closer look at the buttons and ports you'll find they all provide great tactile response and still click very well. Touch ID works just as well as without a case. There is a plastic membrane covering the home button that looks pretty flimsy, but it certainly gets the job done. Lifeproof chose to not make the opening of the home button completely round because of how close it is to the edge of the screen. Otherwise the small please of plastic between the home button and screen would be very fragile. It doesn't get in the way at all but takes some getting used to. The mute switch is actually a toggle built into the case and is backwards from the actual mute switch. So down is on and up is vibrate. The front facing camera and proximity sensor are covered by plastic and the ear piece is covered with a wire mesh that allows air and sound through but not dust and water. The speaker port and microphone port are covered by wire mesh as well. There's a flap with a gasket for the Lightning connector and an opening only large enough for standard connectors. Any larger third party cables certainly won't work. On previous cases this gasket was very easy to lose. Lifeproof has addressed that by tucking this gasket in on all four sides.  The cover for the headphone jack is threaded which I really appreciate. It's definitely not going to accidentally fall out. Lifeproof includes a threaded headphone adapter that you can use with waterproof headphones, or more likely, to allow larger third party headphone jacks to connect. The camera lense is covered with a higher quality glass and is recessed to prevent scratches. This does allow for snow to collect around the lens, so be aware of that if you're playing in the snow. The case is slightly raised around the entire screen. It doesn't seem to get in the way of the Notification Center drop down but I do occasionally have trouble pulling up Control Center. You have to really make sure you press you finger deep into the edge of the case. 

Lifeproof claims their cases are waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof, and shock proof. After being tossed in the snow a few times the phone and case came out unharmed. For the purposes of this review I'm going to skip the dirt test. If the case is waterproof it'll certainly keep dirt out and to be honest I really don't want to get my brand new case dirty. After all, the white front is prone to staining. 

For water testing I decided to run my phone through the washer. This actually tests it's waterproofing ability as well as some shockproof ability. The case passed this test with flying colors. And the beauty of the Lifeproof case is that when you're done you can rinse the soap off in the sink. 

This case is rated for drops up to 6.6 feet. A much more realistic drop for me is right when I take my phone out of my pocket. And although I've never once dropped my phone while texting, the Lifeproof Nuud can certainly handle that as well should it happen to you. I did pick up a minor scuff on the corner of the case and the two pieces also separated. It's easily snapped back together though. 

In terms of call quality it's about what you'd expect, which isn't great. In my call tests the person I was talking to could hear me fine and didn't notice any difference. I did notice the sound through the earpiece was degraded though. It was still clear and not muffled at all but sounded a little bit like someone talking in a cave and when there was additional background noise I had a hard time hearing them. For music the speaker worked surprisingly well. Lifeproof uses the airspace on the back of the case to amplify the sound and it really works. The back of the case vibrates while playing music and the sound is great. 

In the end this is a really amazing case considering its size and having direct access to the screen. The few caveats I've mentioned will definitely cause it not to be the daily case for many people. But if you're heading out to the snow or water, or if you're generally rough on your phone, then this is the case for you. If you have any questions that I didn't cover please feel free to leave them in the comments.

2.23.2015

Review - Smartphone Bike Mount


With all the workout apps there are in the App Store and Play Store, it's common place to take your smartphone with you while out on a bike ride. If you're looking for an inexpensive way to secure your smartphone to your handlebars then look no further. This is the U-Grip Plus Universal Smartphone Bike Mount by Aduro. If you saw my review of the U-Grip Plus Suction Cup Mount, this mount shares a lot of the same components. I'm a huge fan of the suction cup mount and Aduro was kind enough to send me this mount for review to see if performs as well. The main difference is this mount has red rubber webbing that holds your smartphone by the corners to provide extra security while driving your bike.




2.17.2015

Review - Headrest Mount for iPad by Aduro



Video in an automobile is a really handy feature, especially if you have children. You could pay to have an expensive DVD player installed or you could leverage the digital media you already have on your tablet and buy this. This is the U-Grip Universal Headrest Mount for Tablets by Aduro. In my review of the Aduro U-Grip Suction Cup Mount I praised that mount for working so well, especially for the price. Aduro was kind enough to send me this headrest mount for review to see if performs as well.