As more manufacturers crank out durable cases, the designs become confusing to differentiate. Here’s a side-by-side size comparison between the three. I don’t have any user experience regarding audio quality nor durability. These photos are strictly to show off the rugged good looks of the Seidio OBEX, LifeProof fre and OtterBox Armor Series and help you see the size differences. All the photos are clickable for super-sized fun.
The links above are my Amazon affiliate links. OtterBox provided the case, while the Seidio and LifeProof were prizes from CES.
You made the mistake again. You’ve commented on some jerk’s status update that is getting a gazillion responses or you wrote “Congratulations!” after someone posted their first baby photo (you’ll be bored of their baby pictures in a week). Now you’re stuck because your stupid phone is exploding from all the follow up congratulatory nonsense making you regret your decision, but you’re away from a computer. As you watch your battery drain from the beating it’s taking from Facebook notifications, you swear that you’ll NEVER.COMMENT.AGAIN. I’m here to save your (battery) life.
Facebook offers the option to “Unfollow Post” so you stop getting harassed with follow up notifications you don’t care about on their website. It’s easy to do on your computer but it hasn’t been integrated into the mobile site yet.
Good news! There’s a magical link that Facebook stashes away deep deep in the internet that lets you access the full desktop version of Facebook from your phone. It works on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and probably anything else. Except Symbian. Even Jesus hates Symbian. Save this link on your phone or tablet for full desktop access of Facebook: http://bit.ly/fullfacebook Hitting this link on your computer is just going to take you to Facebook, there won’t be anything special. Be sure you do this on your phone.
When you need to unfollow a facebook post or untag a stupid photo that your terrible friend tagged you in, hit the link above from your mobile device and correct the situation. Share this with your friends and happy facebooking.
The flight to Brussels was as good as I could want, other than putting a wrinkle on the earth and jumping from one continent to another. I had an entire row to myself from Newark to Belgium. The hack I put together worked. Moving up from United’s Economy to Economy Plus gave me a few precious inches of leg room, feeling like an emergency row on Southwest. There was a strategy behind the seat I chose. Instead of picking and aisle seat, my favorite and most expensive option on the hop, I opted for the cheaper middle seat. There were a few rows still uninhabited around me. I reasoned that if a couple were to book, one of them would ask me to move so they could sit together and I could get a better seat for less. Secondly, I figured that people booking would likely skip the row all together to not bother with the fool in the middle seat. Admittedly, there was no guarantee either would work…but it did. Full row for 6.5 hours. I was so happy I nearly shed a tear – but I hadn’t planned on crying in front of others that day, so I refrained. I ate, watched 21 Jump Street and slept – all with a goofy smile bolted to my face.
Welcome to Brussels, Dummy
My sister is training for a new job in Brussels for a month. She’s been updating her Facebook page with her ridiculous experiences. Thankfully, I was warned to enter the bus from the front and exit from the back or expect a tongue slapping in French, Dutch or some Biblical tongue in an update. What I didn’t know was how to read Dutch or French on the stupid ticketing machine. Also, I wasn’t bright enough the first three times to hit the blue button that had flags on it to change languages, but I was out of buttons to press and knobs to turn. English! Well, Engrish – mostly English. Ticket challenge, complete! On the bus, I repeated “In through the front, out through the back, in through the front, out through the back.” Don’t worry, I wasn’t rocking back and forth like Rainman.
Death to Paper
Paper maps are archaic. I would rather avoid paper cuts and the frustration of folds. Who am I, Magellan? Handsome beard? Yes. Able to navigate by the stars? Wear a ‘coon skin hat? Not so much.
Before this trip, my homeboy, Bobby and I did some magic to unlock my iPhone. The tough part was not knowing if the unlocking worked stateside. I ordered a pre-paid SIM from Mobile Vikings in Belgium to use during my adventure. I prayed as I pushed the plastic and metal card into my phone and magic happened – it worked! I looked around…*tiny dance in the apartment” Though the new iOS maps are designed by super heroes that can jump over buildings and bodies of water, with nonsensical instructions to walk through walls and levitate over water, it’s better than becoming a luddite cartographer.
I’m geared up in the streets of Brussels. Data on the iPhone, new camera ready to capture Brussel’s beauty and a small Patagonia bag strapped to my back (It’s not a man purse, dammit!). Oh and thanks to Vid, I’ve got a fitbit to track my steps and distance. I really think he’s monitoring me, but that’s a different story for a different day.
The day’s walk took me through Grand Place. Don’t pronounce it Place, like I did. It’s embarrassing for you to sound like a hayseed and it’s disheartening for the person that has to correct you. Say it like “PLAZZZZ.” Now everyone knows how classy and educated you are. Part of the fun of having a smartphone working while your traveling is using Wikitude, an app that lays Wikipedia and Flickr information where you’re standing. You know what you’re looking at and you can steal photo ideas from better photographers.
All this walking had taken it out of me, it was time for coffee. There was this industrial coffee roaster at the entrance of Corica that drew me in. I’d buy a coffee then shoot a photo. I got much more. Sipping on my Costa Rican Lungo, I chatted up the guy behind the counter, Harold. Harold is a bro in his late 20’s or early 30’s who owned the shop with his mom. In his younger years, Harold was a smoker, spending days hanging out in the grass. His dad told Harold he was flying him to Canada, because he was a bum, so he could be one in Canada. Harold protested and asked how much money his dad was giving him before his trip. “Not much.” Away he went to Canada and lived as “a hobo.” Hobo sounds classier when you say it with a Dutch and French accent. Harold slept in a car and in the woods. It was “easier” that way as long as he didn’t run into a bear. There were no obvious chunks missing, so I think he made out alright. Harold met a girl who took him in and he worked odd jobs around Canada, gardening and such. He returned to Brussels and opened Corica. Corica reminds me of Olmos Perk in San Antonio. It’s a hip little place run by people who care about the coffee they brew. Harold isn’t looking to expand right now, there are other passions he’d like to pursue without franchising and getting gray hair. We pause the conversation. It’s his girlfriend asking if he’d be okay with carrot soup for dinner. He was kind on the phone, then he hangs up and laughs “Hhhhhell no, carrot soup is not okay. I WANT MEAT.” He asks about my political affiliations and we talk about the differing freedoms between the US and Belgium. He looks at our country as one with many personal freedoms to think as you want but more laws limiting what you do, Belgium being one of thoughts being limited but the latitude to do as you please physically.
I shot a few photos, we exchanged business cards and I zipped off. Like Pizzesco in Munich, visit Harold’s Corica when stopping in Brussels and ask about being a hobo.
One against seven is never a fair fight. The body blows from seven time zones are iced when I tote my Passport. I darken tight doorways with a purposefully packed backpack and carryon.
My MacBook Air is ready to glamorize photos of abbeys. The microfiber cloth makes the glass sparkle. Splenda gives the perfect sweetness to the corner bistro’s cappuccino. A pounding headache and the aftermath of eating a few closed mussels from Brussels can be fixed with the white container. Be smart – if cooked shellfish didn’t open during cooking, don’t eat it.
Adventures are more fun when reading adventures first on a Kindle. My photos are 48% less boring when I hang the magnetic Joby Gorillapod from a street sign. Until the future arrives, gear will not charge itself. Thankfully, Tumi Tech’s universal plug rocks plugs for the UK, Europe, Asia and it bonuses with a USB port. The sunrise over the centuries old plaza is captured magically through the f/1.8 lens of the Sony RX100. Waking for the sunrise shoot is soothed by hits through the X-Mini travel speaker. What good are the photos of the worn streets if you can’t share? Sprint’s International Hot Spot with an unlocked SIM slot will do the trick for my four closest companions and me. Dead batteries are for suckers, so the ibattz with two removal batteries should do the trick.
But, if the ibattz isn’t enough, the MyCharge 5000 will finish the day out. Untested unlocked devices are never a sure bet. A Nokia Lumia 800 is Plan C if the iPhone and International Hot Spot are a bust. With the tiny MacBook Air minimizing outlets, the Apple USB to Ethernet dongle provides wired connectivity in hotels stuck in 1999. International travel requires forms when you’re drowsy and your seat mates are asleep, so I bring my own pen. USB charging is simple with the Western Europe dongle. Escaping airplane dry mouth is easiest with gum and keeps you in the good graces of your seat mate.
Review of the LifeProof Gen 2, Seidio Active X, Speck PixelSkin HD, PureGear Kickstand Case iPhone 4S Cases.
CES proved there was a sea of iPhone cases available with varying levels of protection, girth and additional useful benefits. Depending on how you use your phone and how abusive/careless you choose to be with your device, one of these cases could be worth your hard earned money. Note that none of these cases includes a screen protector, so if that is important to you, you’ll have to pick one up separately.
LifeProof spent over two years and two million dollars developing this case. They claim that it is water, dirt, snow and shock proof (to certain limits). What impressed me about the LifeProof was the level of protection in exchange for the size of the case. The thickness is nearly the same as the Seidio Active X, while being a bit taller to accomodate the specialized protection of the headphone port on top and the 30-pin connection on the bottom.
The LifeProof has the ultimate screen protection. It lays a sealed piece of plastic over the front of the phone, necessary to keep the elements on the outside of the case. LifeProof recommends that you remove any screen protector you have on the device to maximize the usefulness of the touchscreen. In my quick test, I found that the screen loses a bit of sensitivity when you keep the screen protector on, especially when trying to access the screen with water running over it.
Button & Port Accessibility
All of the buttons and ports are usable with the LifeProof on but you must make the proper accomodations to access the 30 pin port and the microphone. To access the 30 pin port, flip the cover open to access the port. The phone will not be dockable with the case on. The microphone audio quality obviously diminishes when used under water. The rocker switch is accessible by a covered piece of plasic that allows you to toggle the option.
Overall Protection Level
Out of the four cases, the LifeProoof is the most protective case, no question. The ability to be submerged is amazing. It prevents dust and moisture. You do have some tradeoffs with the LifeProof. Your touchscreen experience is lacking because of the protective plastic that resides on top of your screen. You have a screw in piece for the headphone port to keep water out and the dock has a flap. These are not knocks on the LifeProof case, just things to consider that you trade in exchange for this incredible level of protection.
To test out the case, I ran my phone under water.
PureGear Kickstand Case
PureGear is one of those companies that we found tucked away during CES in the North Hall. Their Kickstand Case looks like most other black iPhone cases but adds a handy stand on the back of it. This makes it great for FaceTime or Skype – great for video chats without having to hold your phone. The kickstand works well in both portrait and landscape modes. The back of the case has an interesting pattern that encourages your touch. It’s grippy but it slides out of your pocket easily enough.
The screen protection of this case is minimal. The phone clicks into the case and the sides are nearly flush with the screen. If screen protection is a major concern, this is not the case for you, unless you use the optional holster. But then, you know, you’re using a holster. (Sorry, dad)
Button & Port Accessibility
The case has a wide open top and bottom so you shouldn’t have any trouble accessing the ports and potentially docking the iPhone while keeping it in this case. The left side has a large slot for both the ringer switch and the volume buttons which make them easily accessible. It doesn’t get much more open than this.
Overall Protection Level
This case will help absorb the impact if your phone is dropped and lands on its sides or back. If it goes face down or lands on the top or bottom of the phone, it will likely be cringeworthy. There is no felt or other impact absorbing material other than this soft touch plastic.
Seidio Active X
Seidio is a company based out of Houston that prides itself in making high quality after market gear for a number of different phones. Their accessories line runs deep with cases, batteries, chargers and other goodies for all brands. The Active X is a two piece case made up of a silicone base layer that wraps the phone first, which is reinforced by an exoskeleton.
The Active X has silicone that wraps around the screen of the phone completely and the exoskeleton of the case covers it in six points – the corners and the mid section to keep everything tight. The case design does a great job of protecting the screen by recessing a bit under the silicone. If the phone were to drop face down, you’d reduce your chances of scratching/destroying your screen. The protection can make reaching buttons close to the edge a bit more challenging.
Button & Port Accessibility
The top headphone port is cut open for easy accessibility with headphones, while the power button is covered with silicone, as are the volume buttons. The ringer switch has an acceptable size opening that shouldn’t be a problem unless you have hands like a caveman. The bottom has cutouts for the speaker, mic and 30-pin port. Don’t bother trying to use an HDMI dongle with the phone, though, it won’t fit.
Overall Protection Level
The Seidio Active X has a strong level of protection against drops and bumps. The silicone is thick for strong impact absorbption further bolstered by the protection of the Exoskeleton.
Speck PixelSkin HD
Speck is famous for making a fleet of different iPhone cases. They’ve been doing it for generations of the device and their offerings are wide with anything from a wildly lightweight case to the heavy duty. Here we’ll check out the new PixelSkin HD. This case just begs to be used because of the texture on the back. It’s a slim and semi-rigid case.
The PixelSkin HD and the Seidio have a similar lip that covers the perimeter of the iPhone. While the Seidio opts for the chunkier silicone, the Speck uses a thinner plastic. The PixelSkin HD would help the screen from touching a surface if slid face down, preventing it from getting scratched.
Button & Port Accessibility
The top has a hearty cut out for the headphone port where most any headphones should plug in with ease and the power button is covered with plastic and easily accessed. The left side has a full cut out for the ringer switch, while the volume buttons are covered by the plastic and easily accessed. The bottom has a cut out for the microphone, 30-pin connector and speaker. An HDMI dongle can fit into the cut out with a little wiggle.
Overall Protection Level
The Speck PixelSkin HD has a great feel to it and it will provide a decent level of protection from drops and scrapes. It’s a solid step up from running around with a naked phone.
Each of these cases can work for you depending upon how you use your phone. If you’re not going to use the Jonathan Ive case (no case), as my friend Davis calls it, one of these might be a good fit. Here’s what you might like:
If you jump out of planes and are interested in an active outdoor lifestyle and you want to film the action along the way, check out the LifeProof case. The cases are even compatible with GoPro Camera mounts.
For those of you that use your phone to watch videos or do quite a bit of video Skype work, the PureGear Kickstand Case will be a life saver thanks to its built in stand.
To blend a desire of robust protection while keeping a slim case, check out the Seidio Active X. It will take a beating and still look good doing so.
For the minimalist that wants to reduce scratches and provide some protection for the infrequent drop, the Speck is for you. It will work sliding out of a pair of jeans or out of a sport coat.
Being an avid @foursquare player, I was tinkering on the website when I stumbled onto the page with a foursquare party, 16 new badges, foursquare swag and temporary tattoos. Track down the right people at the Sobe Lounge, Microsoft Bing Booth, IFC Crossroads House and SXSW Web Awards. Needless to say, I can’t wait to unlock these goodies and hopefully meet the folks from foursquare in Austin. Just a few more days, so we’ll see you in the ATX!