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LifeProof Phone Case for iPhone 4 & 4S and Belt Clip Holster Review for Hunters

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Photo of front and back of LifeProof olive drab case for iPhone 4 and 4S.

Photo of front and back of LifeProof olive drab case for iPhone 4 and 4S.

Photo courtesy of LifeProof
The Bottom Line

This LifeProof case is the best case I've found so far for my iPhone 4S. It has some quirks - if it didn't, it would get five stars - but it protects the phone very well and is the most user-friendly one I've tried. It doesn't add much size to the phone, so it still pockets easily - but I prefer to use the holster (which they call a Belt Clip). All in all, this LifeProof case is not perfect but it's very good.

Pros

  • Waterproof, snow proof, and shock proof.
  • Mostly dirt proof (more on that later).
  • Very compact and unobtrusive; doesn't add much size to the phone but all controls are easy to use.
  • Olive drab color is great for hunters.
  • Camera is always available, yet well protected.
  • Holster has a lock to keep the phone from coming out accidentally.
  • Using this case makes me a lot more comfortable handling and using my phone.
  • Available in Realtree camo.
LifeProof phone case and belt clip after I fell onto it in a lake.

This is the LifeProof phone case and belt clip after I fell onto it in a lake. Has some pretty gritty sand on the front there. (The screen isn't rippled; that's a reflection of window blinds).

Photo © Russ Chastain
Cons

  • Made in Taiwan.
  • Must buy the belt clip (holster) separately.
  • Screwing in the headphone adapter gets tedious.
  • Case allowed dust inside.
  • Some aftermarket chargers won't fit, so you have to use an extender or USB cord with narrow iPhone connector.
  • Can't charge the phone in the holster.
Description

  • Protective case for iPhone, and belt clip (which I call a holster). They are sold separately.
  • This case is for the iPhone 4 and 4S.
  • Case is olive drab green and black in color. Belt clip holster is black.
  • Box says Mil Spec +IP-68.
  • Advertised as waterproof, shockproof, snow proof, and dirt proof.
  • 5 3/16" long (including headphone port plug), 2 11/16" wide (including side buttons & switch), and just a touch more than 1/2" thick.
  • Case weighs just 1.1 ounces (not including clip).
  • Belt/pocket clip only rotates 180 degrees.
  • Holster is directional; the phone may face in or out, but it must always go with its top towards the latch.
  • Case comes with an extra screw-in plug for the headphone port, and a short adapter that screws into the headphone port.
  • Currently available in several Realtree camo patterns.
LifeProof Case & Holster for iPhone 4 & 4S Review

I was excited when I got this case. My wife had bought one for her phone, and she loved it. Mine had some problems from the get-go.

First, the face of it was scratched - the clear part that acts as a screen protector. That ain't good. No instructions were included, so it was necessary to watch online videos to learn the proper procedure. Preparation for installing the case was very tedious. And the space between the screen protector and the screen was a bummer.

From the beginning, though, its great benefit was how well it protected my phone. I immediately felt more confident carrying and using my phone in rough environments - such as out in the woods, where I go hunting.

The slim lines and light weight are also great boons; my phone weighs 5.00 ounces, and that only climbs to 6.10 ounces with the LifeProof case installed.

This is the LifeProof phone case being rinsed under the faucet in the kitchen sink.

This is the LifeProof phone case being rinsed under the faucet in the kitchen sink. I love this!

Photo © Russ Chastain
Bummers

There was excess air space between the screen protector and my phone's screen, and this was a problem. Not only did it interfere with the touch sensitivity, it was also surprisingly noisy when I typed on it - and I type on my phone a lot. I'm constantly using it to keep notes and make lists and such, so ease of typing is a big deal. This one was so noisy that I felt as if my typing noise might even spook game while hunting on a still, quiet day.

I experimented and found that it didn't happen if I opened the charging door or unscrewed the headphone cap. Must be a valve thing; they use valves to let sound in and out of the case. At any rate, I contacted LifeProof and they sent a replacement case.

I had supplied myself with various cheap chargers, but alas! None of them would fit into the phone with the LifeProof case on it. I had to use extenders, which eventually damaged the charger plugs. I ended up buying a better USB charger and using USB-to-iPhone cords for charging.

Holster (Belt Clip)

When I got the belt clip, which I shall call a holster, I was disappointed that its clip only rotates 180 degrees rather than 360, and that the phone can only go in with its top towards the latch (but it can be either face-in or face-out). I have to say, though, that the holster has served me well and I expect it to last for a good long time.

The holster comes with clips for 1.5-inch and two-inch belts. Once you snap one of the clips in and add the medallion, you can't go back. I couldn't decide which one to use... I don't put it on my belt, but instead clip it to my right front pants pocket. I opted for the 2" clip but didn't insert the medallion for a few weeks, to be sure I liked it. It's really longer than I need it to be, but the other one is too short. I eventually had to install the medallion to keep the clip from coming out.

Scratches

Due to the screen protector bowing outward away from the phone, it became marked by rubbing against the plastic of the holster when I holster it screen-in. This was an aggravation, but not untenable. A friend of mine had that same problem to a much greater extent, though, and had to replace his LifeProof with another brand of case because his screen was unreadable.

I prefer to holster it with the screen in, because this protects the screen from all the things with which one collides in the course of a day - and sometimes, that's a lot.

Headphone Blues

This case has a screw-in plug filling the hole above the headphone jack. When the plug is removed, the hole is too small for most headphone or speaker cords. To use headphones or to connect the phone to external speakers or a vehicle's auxiliary feed, you need to remove the plug and screw in the included short adapter. This can be a hassle.

I thought about leaving the adapter screwed in because that would keep the phone protected while keeping ready to plug in, but doing so mutes the phone speaker and you can't use it to make calls - unless you use speaker phone and connect headphones or a speaker to the adapter.

I thought about buying a few adapters to keep them around where they're needed, but my pockets weren't that deep - they charge $20 a pop for these stumpy things. Ridiculous.

Because of this, I've been using bluetooth speakers and adapters more and more.

Great Drop Protection

I dropped my phone with this case on it, and it wasn't hurt. It happened in the grocery store, at the SHOT Show, and on a tiled bathroom floor. The phone wasn't hurt at all.

How'd That Get in There?

After several months of use, I noticed an area of tiny specks radiating from the ear/speaker valve in the top front of the case. When I removed the case, I confirmed that this was dust that had somehow entered the case. Bummer.

Lanyard Rippage

I used a lanyard to keep my phone attached to me when I went out on the boat. This is great, and not all phone cases have lanyard slots. I wish LifeProof had put them in the tough material of the case back rather than the softer front material, though, because when I accidentally snagged the lanyard on something as I walked by, it ripped right through the lanyard slot in the LifeProof case.

Charge! Or not...

This LifeProof case limits how you can charge your phone. You can't charge it at all in the holster, and many aftermarket chargers have plugs that are too large to fit into LifeProof's opening. This means you must use adapters/extenders or USB cords with plugs on the ends that are close to the size of Apple's. Ends on USB cords usually go into the case so far that you will have to pull the cord itself to remove them; I added a drop of super glue on all of my cords to prevent pulling the wire out of the plug.

It's Dead

I removed the LifeProof case in order to install a Survivor case for testing. While writing this review, I had the empty LifeProof case in its holster, screen out. I put pressure against the front of the case with my thumb while opening the belt clip, and the screen protector pulled loose from the side of the case. The pressure was too much without a phone inside to support the thin screen protector. There goes its waterproofness; it was a good nine months and I wish it would have lasted longer.

Camo!

I also got to use one of these cases with Realtree Max-5 camouflage finish. The camo - which is only on the case back - is durable and looks almost new (has one very tiny scuff) after two months of use.

Conclusion

While gracelessly debarking from a small boat, I slipped and fell, landing in shallow water on my right hip - right on top of my phone, which was in this LifeProof case and in the holster. I took the phone up to the camp and rinsed it off in the sink; it wasn't hurt at all.

Things like that are what makes LifeProof a good case. I wish I could say it's great, but between the problems I've had and those of folks I know, I just can't go there and I had to dock them one star.

In the end, using this case makes me a lot more comfortable handling and using my phone, and that means a lot to me. I can certainly recommend this case to hunters and other outdoorsmen.

- Russ Chastain

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