New handsets like the Sony Xperia Z1 are waterproof, letting you safely take them for a swim or out in the rain on a hike. And take it from someone who’s used one – boldly carrying your phone into the shower is a fantastic feeling.
But the good old iPhone, even in its latest models, doesn’t show any sign of that. So what do you do if you want an iPhone that isn’t afraid to be dunked, submerged, showered on or attacked by a moisture-monster? Well, there’s a case for that!
First, A Few Caveats
When you are buying a waterproof case for the iPhone, there are a few things you need to know:
- Every waterproof case will muffle your sound. It’s something you simply have to learn to live with. It’s the nature of the device you are asking for – the ports and speakers have to be sealed up tight, which means volume is lower and the sound can get distorted.
- All of the waterproof cases on the market today are for the iPhone 5 and none have yet been made specifically for the iPhone 5s or the iPhone 5c. That said, the iPhone 5s has the same dimensions as the iPhone 5, so it fits well into most cases. There are no cases currently that fit the iPhone 5c.
- If you are using the iPhone 5s in an iPhone 5 case, the Touch ID (fingerprint sensor) will not work. Again, this is a trade-off of the technology used. Cases made specifically for the iPhone 5s should support Touch ID when they are launched.
Incipio Atlas ($59.61)
For the iPhone 5 or 5s, the Incipio Atlas is among the best of the waterproof cases. In fact, it’s also one of the toughest cases for the iPhone too. For $60, it offers up to 6 feet of depth resistance for an hour and protects your handset in both saltwater and freshwater. One point where it differs from others is that the Atlas uses a glass protector instead of a plastic one, making your screen clearer to see. Perhaps most importantly, Incipio is confident enough in its case that it gives you a year of warranty against water damage to your iPhone. Incipio are clearly not worried about putting their money where their mouth is!
However, the design of the case is such that activating Notification Center can be a little difficult. Also, if you are using it with the iPhone 5s, it covers a bit of the new dual LED flash for the rear camera, nullifying the effect.
iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua ($114.95)
Dive in and never run out of battery? Cool! The iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua comes with an interchangeable 2200mAh battery pack, which can completely charge your iPhone from zero to 100%. What’s more, you can just buy more batteries from iBattz and swap them out with this one when needed, which makes this a fantastic cover if you’re going to be roughing it for a few days. The Mojo Refuel Aqua claims IPX8-certified water protection up to 10 feet deep and can absorb the stress of knocks, drops and vibrations.
Unfortunately, it uses a plastic screen protector which doesn’t feel as great and responsive to use as the Incipio Atlas. Additionally, the Home button requires some pressure to click.
Still, what you get in return is a waterproof shell that can also extend the battery life of your iPhone, which is really neat. Expect it to work with the iPhone 5s without support for Touch ID, but it won’t fit the iPhone 5c.
The Griffin Survivor+Catalyst does a great job of keeping your iPhone safe from water, and doesn’t look half bad doing it. The case is clear plastic on all sides, except the rubber flaps covering the ports and buttons, so you can see the iPhone in all its glory. And you will appreciate how easily you can access any port, so you don’t really have to keep taking your handset out of the case.
This case can also go a little further than the Incipio Atlas and the Lifeproof Nuud with a tested depth safety of 10 feet.
The clear plastic back has another plus: it lets you use the case with the iPhone 5s dual-LED. This is the only case in the current crop that can accommodate the new flash, but there’s still no love for the fingerprint sensor.
Watershot Waterproof Housing ($109.98)
If you want to dive much deeper than 6-10 feet, the Watershot Waterproof Housing is a safe bet as it lets you go up to 120 feet without water damage. Just so you know, the recommended recreational diving limit for divers is 100 feet, after which nitrogen narcosis symptoms begin to show. So for most users, this should take care of all your snorkelling needs.
The case seals tight and is pretty darn solid, although that comes at the cost of being bulky and clunky. This one is a case of functionality over form. You won’t be carrying your iPhone around in this all day, but the moment you hit the beach and want to take your iPhone with you into the water, this is the most trustworthy case to put it into.
Lifeproof Nuud ($40)
The prettiest of the waterproof cases by a long shot, the Lifeproof Nuud is both sleek and sexy. It does this by eliminating the front glass screen protector and exposes your iPhone’s screen directly to the water. Wait, what? How does it protect the phone then?
Basically, the Nuud suction-cups every part of your phone apart from the screen, so the screen is still very usable while keeping water out. Of course, this comes at the cost of performance as the Nuud is great for regular water-proofing needs, like a day at the beach or a short swim, but you might want to skip this one for heavy-duty waterproofing like taking with you it when you go surfing.
What About the iPhone 5c and Touch ID?
While none of the current waterproof cases offer support for the new fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s, there is hope. Otterbox has announced that it will soon be launching the Preserver series, which specifically works with the Touch ID function. And yeah, there will be a version for the iPhone 5c too!
Will you be waiting for an iPhone 5s case with Touch ID or buy one of the cheaper current iPhone 5 ones? How are you waterproofing the cool iPhone 5c, which is great for entry-level buyers? What kind of waterproof protection works best for you? We’d love to know so drop a line below!