Case Fail: A Lifeproof Experience

I know how expensive phones are, so I have done away with getting cases for mine that are purely for show, despite how pretty I find them. Fortunately, cell phone case makers have been innovating their products, adding nifty features like built-in flash drives and styluses, and boasting features like “SHOCKPROOF! SCRATCHPROOF! WATERPROOF!” These are the cases I’m more drawn to considering my innate clumsiness and the fact that I have a toddler who likes to grab mommy’s phone.

To my knowledge, there are two brands that are available in the local market that offer “Phone Protection”: Otterbox and Lifeproof. I have had a dependency on them since my first iPhone, having gone through one Lifeproof, and Otterbox’s Defender and Commuter. My recent, Otterbox’s Armor, was specially built like a tank (as one of my professors jokingly called it) and, though it was heavy and bulky, it did what it was meant to doprotect my phoneso I was satisfied.

Naturally, when I upgraded phones this year, I gravitated towards these two brands when looking for a case. But Otterbox had stopped making waterproof cases after purchasing Lifeproof, so I was left with only the latter for choice. I had a good history with Lifeproof for the iPhone 4, so I didn’t hesitate getting one for my new phone.

Of torn plastic like hymens

While out of town within a week of using my new Lifeproof case, I noticed that the plastic over the light for the camera flash had been torn. This was surprising to me since I didn’t thiink any of the case’s parts would be so flimsy. I recall that the older Lifeproof I had had a much harder plastic sheet covering the phone camera and flash.

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I remembered that the shop I had bought it from gave me a warranty certificate, so upon returning to the city, I went back to them to ask about it. They referred me to the iFix Center in Pasig, which handles service issues; it wasn’t an easy place to get to. Unfortunately, when I presented my concern to the people at iFix, they told me it wasn’t covered by the warranty because it wasn’t a “factory defect” but “user’s fault.”

WHAT.

Excuse me? I did not buy a waterproof case for close to 4,000 PHP (approx. 85 USD) just to compromise one of the reasons I bought it in the first place: its being waterproof.

In my defense, it had only been in use for a week before the plastic got torn and it was never dropped, thrown, or submerged in water within that period. I suspect the culprit must have been one of the contents of my bag, in which case, it is quite laughable that a product that’s being marketed as dropproof, dustproof, scratchproof and waterproof cannot withstand the contents of a woman’s bag. Suffice to say I was extremely disappointed.

Here are some other flaws of the Lifeproof case:

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A view of the torn plastic of the phone flash from the inside. I would also like to comment on the plastic backing that wasn’t present in the old Lifeproof cases. I assume this addition is meant to show off the iPhone logo, but on a waterproof case, it seems unnecessary. It also appears to have been attached using only glue. I wet the back of this case a few days ago (taking care in avoiding the camera area) and noticed that water had begun leaking through the plastic square.
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The plastic part for the mute/ringer button was easily chipped. This happened about a couple of months after the flash plastic was torn. By then, I was already resigned to not having a waterproof case so this didn’t bother me as much.

If you’re in the market for a waterproof case, I’m afraid I must highly discourage you from getting a Lifeproof. Sadly, as far as I know, it’s the only brand available locally that offers water protection. So if you have the means or contacts abroad, please consider some of the other options listed here.

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