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May 14, 2013

Electronic Armor

Safeguard your phone or tablet with a waterproof case


Hard Case, Soft Touch

 

pelican phone case
Pelican i1015 phone case

LifeProof cases, which have made a big push in the angling scene in recent years, most definitely cannot be adjusted to fit any old phone. Instead, these hard shells are molded ­specifically for particular electronic devices.
Currently designed for Apple iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 phones, as well as Apple’s iPod Touch, the LifeProof product line for phones will expand this summer with a new model for use with Samsung’s Galaxy S3. (See news article about OtterBox acquiring LifeProof.)


“But the brand promise will be the same,” says Barbara Meyer, marketing communications manager at LifeProof. “It will be waterproof, shockproof, dirt‑proof and snow-proof.”


LifeProof claims its cases are ­waterproof up to six-and-a-half feet for 30 minutes, and that devices will be safe even if dropped from a height of ­six-and-a-half feet. Yet these cases are not big and bulky. Instead, they are slim and lightweight, and Meyer says the idea is that they’re meant for everyday usage, not simply for going out onto the water or into the woods.


“They enable you to do stuff that you couldn’t before,” she says. “They give you peace of mind. But they’re perfectly suitable to be carried anywhere, anytime.”


The shell of a LifeProof case comprises two hard-plastic pieces, a front and a back, which snap together tightly like Tupperware. A small screw plugs up the earbud jack, and a hinged flap closes to seal the power receptor. The front portion of the shell features a clear polyester screen that covers the phone’s touch-screen surface, allowing full usage of the phone anytime. “It’s super thin, scratch resistant and ­minimizes fingerprints,” says Meyer.


Tablets and Accessories Too

 

ipad lifeproof shell
Encasing an iPad with a LifeProof nüüd shell creates a serious on-the-water tool for anglers. (ADRIAN E. GRAY)

Ironically, LifeProof’s latest product, introduced last year built to house Apple’s iPad tablet device and dubbed the nüüd, has no such clear membrane covering the touch-screen. Yet it too is fully waterproof.


“It’s a slightly different ­technology,” says Meyer. “It works like a car’s ­windshield. A raised-lip seal keeps the screen from actually touching a surface if you put it down; and an O-ring on the inside of the case seals the connection to make it perfectly waterproof and protected from dust, dirt, and sand.”


Meyer says doing so ensures zero degradation to the touch and retinal experience of the iPad’s renowned screen, which she says is already built to shed water. The nüüd carries an Ingress Protection rating of 68, which is the highest rating in two categories, providing protection against solids like dirt and against liquids.


Of course, LifeProof, Aquapac and Pelican are not the only manufacturers that offer water-safe tablet cases. Aryca, Griffin and TrendyDigital are just a few of the others that make products for various devices from different manufacturers.

aquapac soft case
Aquapac’s soft case designed for the Apple iPad is fully waterproof, and provides functionality and touch control through a thin TPU casing. (ADRIAN E. GRAY)

And with all this innovation in go-anywhere waterproof cases for ­electronics, a new market has emerged as well: accessories.
LifeProof alone offers a gaggle of cool accessories perfectly suited for anglers. The company’s LifeJacket Float is a molded buoyant foam that fits snuggly over a LifeProof case, ensuring the case floats if dropped into the drink. It’s even orange, resembling a traditional life preserver. Then, there’s the Bike & Bar mount that can be used to attach a water-sealed device to an aluminum handrail in any boat.


Of course, you can always fish in ­solitude without any of the distractions of modern living. But, says Meyer, “if you prefer to use fishing or navigation apps, listen to music, or take pictures of your catch to post to Facebook while on the water, these cases enable you to do it easily and safely.”

An Invisible “Case”

invisible cellphone caseHard and soft cases seem a logical solution to protecting electronics, but a relatively new product offers a barrier against water exposure — with no case involved. Liquipel uses a hydrophobic nanocoating to protect a gadget’s circuitry. You simply send your phone or tablet to the company, it treats the product and sends it back. Liquipel was distinguished as a 2012 Edison Awards winner, and Randy Smith, the company’s marketing officer, tells Sport Fishing that the new Liquipel 2.0 offers enhanced saltwater corrosion resistance. Treated products can be immersed in fresh water for 30 minutes at a depth of three feet. That said, Liquipel is designed to protect against accidental water ­contact, not necessarily intentional immersion. Learn more at liquipel.com.