The Best Waterproof Case for iPhone

If you want to protect your iPhone when you’re caught out in the rain or, even worse, when it actually gets dunked, there is no better waterproof case than the LifeProof Fre.

The LifeProof Fre (pronounced “Free”) has been getting lots of positive buzz in the press and among users since these waterproof iPhone cases first came to market in 2011.  Since then, there has been a steady stream of wins for LifeProof and recommendations from a wide spectrum of professional testers.

The latest of these is the review by Will Palmer, an editor for Byliner and an independent tester for Outside magazine.  After destroying his iPhone by dropping it on a gravel driveway, Palmer decided to test 36 popular models of iPhone protective cases.  He eventually chose four superior phone cases to recommend — and the LifeProof Fre was his choice for the best waterproof case for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. 

Of his results in testing the LifeProof Fre, Will summarized:

The Fre is like a comfy pair of gloves: tough, snug-fitting, and element resistant. The polycarbonate shell is basically an extension of the phone, and the plastic screen guard is well integrated (if potentially violable when dropped facedown).  But with an O-ring and über-tight seals that kept out water even when it was six feet under, it does best in all sports aquatic. Some people shun waterproof cases because the mesh covers can impede speaker and microphone sensitivity, but I had no trouble with this one.

Though in his particular testing the LifeProof Fre ended up the winner in the water test, among phone cases it has actually received numerous recommendations as a top-rated all-around case for the iPhone. 

For example, CNET placed the LifeProof Fre in its top 20 tough protective cases for iPhone 4/4S.  Of the Fre, CNET’s editors wrote:

The $79 LifeProof case isn’t cheap, but it may be the best all-around tough case.

In its individual review of the Fre, CNET rated the case “Excellent,” and stated:

While it’s fairly costly and requires an included adapter for headphones, the LifeProof is arguably the best tough iPhone case on the market.

The bottom line:  if you want to protect your fragile iPhone from most of the hazards of life — including, as the company states, “water, shock, dirt, and snow” — but especially water, click here to get yourself a LifeProof Fre.  LifeProof offers free shipping on all orders within the U.S.

The best waterproof cases for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 are the LifeProof Fre phone cases.

An iPhone 5 in a LifeProof Fre waterproof case. The case for iPhone 5 comes in a number of colors. Click to see them all.


As phone accessories become more and more specialized, it stands to reason that certain companies are going to stand out when they make a product that successfully addresses a particular need of users.  In the case of LifeProof, they make sure that iPhone water damage will be a thing of the past.  In fact, the case is so waterproof that you can take it swimming with you.  It’s waterproof to a depth of 6 feet.

LifeProof is so confident of the performance of its waterproof phone cases that it offers an optional “Total Waterproof Protection Plan” for its customers.  For a reasonable fee, purchasers of the LifeProof Fre can have complete assurance that their iPhone will not be damaged by water while it’s in the case.  This protection plan is good for one year from the date of purchase. 

The plan simply states:  “If, within one year of purchasing your LifeProof case and registering with the Total Waterproof Protection Program, your eligible device suffers water damage while in the case, LifeProof will repair or replace it.”  More details about the plan are available on the LifeProof site

One reason that LifeProof can be so confident that if you drop your iPhone in water it won’t be ruined is that they water-test each case before it is shipped.  After their initial test, they then have a second test administered by an independent agent.  Only after every waterproof iPhone case passes several tests does it get sent to you.

That’s another reason I’m recommending the LifeProof Fre:  LifeProof is one of those companies that tries to do right by its customers.  It has been committed to improving and refining its products since the day they first came out. 

For example, if you browse reviews for various LifeProof cases online, you’ll note that initial tests sometimes included a caveat.  For example, in 2011, some testers did not like the fact that you had to press harder on the screen’s protective cover in order to use the iPhone than you normally would press when the phone had no cover (as you might expect when your iPhone’s screen has a waterproof cover over it).  LifeProof subsequently worked to make the cover integrate better with the phone, reducing space between the cover and the iPhone’s screen, so touch control became easier.  Numerous testers came back and updated their reviews to state that the drawback they had mentioned had been addressed and improved by LifeProof.

One of these early testers was Nick Guy, editor of iLounge.  In his review of the LifeProof case for iPhone 4 and 4S, his bottom line evaluation was:

Thanks to the IP68-grade elemental sealing, it offers a degree of protection that separates it from most iPhone 4 cases on the market.

Regarding screen protection, this may be the only minor drawback for this waterproof case, as noted by Will Palmer above:  the case may not fully protect your phone if you, say, leave it on top of your car and drive off…  If the phone flies off the car and lands face-down on the screen, it may still crack.

Still, there’s a lot to be said for never having to type into Google:  “Dropped iPhone in water”  in order to find out how to resuscitate it.

That’s another point in favor of the LifeProof Fre when it comes to cost.  Some feel that $80 is a somewhat hefty price to pay for a waterproof iPhone case.  But a good phone case is a lot cheaper than having to buy a new iPhone. 

Go ahead, lean over that fountain, forgetting that your iPhone is in your shirt pocket.  If it slips into the drink (or gets a drink spilled on it in the restaurant later), you’ll know that your phone is impervious to whatever liquid assaults it.

And, you know, it is still possible to not notice your phone so much when it’s in your pocket even when it’s protected by a Fre case, due to the case’s slim, lightweight (and cool-looking) design.  Contrast that with some of the clunkier cases for the iPhone on the market.

Still wondering if it’s worth it?  How about some additional votes of confidence?  The LifeProof Fre is a multiple award-winning device.  It received Field & Stream magazine’s 2013 award for “Best of the Best” products.  It received Backpacker magazine’s 2013 “Editor’s Choice Snow Award.”  It got the award for “Best Accessory for CES [Consumer Electronics Show] 2013” from Videomaker.  It received the 2012 “Gear of the Year Award” from Men’s Journal.

And so on.

If you want to protect your iPhone with a waterproof case, the choice is clear:  the LifeProof Fre.  This case is head and shoulders above the rest of the water-resistant iPhone case competition right now. 

And, for you Galaxy S III fans, LifeProof will soon be bringing out a waterproof case for that phone, too.

An iPhone dropped in water is no fun.  But it actually can be fun to take your iPhone into the water (or on a hike or cycling in the rain) when it’s protected by a LifeProof Fre case.  Listen to music while you swim!

Explore the LifeProof website to get the entire lowdown on their versatile protective cases and other phone accessories.   If you’d like a bit more hands-on look at the LifeProof Fre for iPhone, take a look at the video below, which compares LifeProof Fre and OtterBox phone cases.  (By the way, if you want enhanced drop protection for your iPhone 4 along with complete protection from water, you can now get a LifeProof LifeJacket case that armors your iPhone 4 even more, adding “ridiculous levels” of drop protection.)