Top Gear #6 Lifeproof Fre
Smartphones are, as any users of them will surely agree, amazing. It would have been hard to imagine having anything like the functionality these mini computers have given us even a few years ago. They are a pocket sized box of tricks that have become a key part of many people’s daily lives.
The main drawback for outdoor people (apart from the limited battery life) is their vulnerability. Drop them and they will need at the least an expensive screen repair and most like being near water about as much as a rattlesnake (I must admit I'm only guessing that rattlesnakes don't like water!). For use in outdoor conditions they are best kept protected. Having tried various cases over the last few years my hands down current favourite is what we've selected as Peak Mountaineering's Top Gear #6. It is the Lifeproof Fre.
I use one with an iPhone 5s (although they also make them for other iPhones, iPads and Samsungs) and for me the Fre really ticks all the right boxes. It isn't too bulky, it protects the phone against impacts, is completely waterproof, it has a sensitive enough screen protector to allow full use of the touchscreen and it is light enough not to add too much extra weight to a rucksack full of other kit. Lifeproof have kept the full functionality of all the control buttons and camera and even, by some design jiggery pokery that I won't even try to understand, they've kept pretty good sound quality.
The Fre does, however, have some drawbacks. My model doesn't let me use my iPhones fingerprint scanner (although I gather this has now been added to later models) and I would like some facility to add a lanyard for securing it around my neck on climbs (if anyone has found a workable solution to this please let me know). It is also trickier to use headphones as the socket is recessed and needs the adapter that Lifeproof supply with the case. Apart from that my only other complaints would be that it hides the sleek design of the iPhone and, at around £60 for the iPhone model, they are pricey.
Overall though, The Fre's pros far outweigh the cons. It lets me use my phone in any weather, lets me throw it in my rucksack without worrying about damage and even lets me store my phone confidently in the front pocket of my buoyancy aid without worry when kayaking. It's also kept it perfectly safe on the odd time I've dropped it. If you've got a smartphone, want to use it in all conditions, and Lifeproof make a case for it, then the Fre is well worth the investment.
Posted by Paul