Review: Lifeproof Waterproof iPhone Case & Handlebar Mount

Lifeproof waterproof iPhone case and bicycle handlebar mount review

There’s certainly no shortage of iPhone mounts for the bicycle. Topeak, Optrix and even some DIY versions have all been spotlighted here on Bikerumor. Each has their unique features, but the Lifeproof one is among the most practical for just riding with the screen in easy reach.

Lifeproof’s claim to fame is submersible waterproofness, something I cautiously tested. Honestly, I was most interested in this to protect against getting caught in the rain and the occasional dropping of the phone, but having it completely sealed against the elements is nice insurance. On the bike, the ball-jointed quick release mount makes placement quick and easy.

It’s available in white, black, pink and purple. And, recently, they added a floatation jacket in bright orange. That item all but removes any complaint I have about the case. I was thinking it should have a small loop to hook to a keychain floatie or something, but the jacket (not tested) is even better and presumably adds additional cushioning against impact.

Anyway, about the on-bike performance…

Lifeproof waterproof iPhone case and bicycle handlebar mount review

The mount clamps around oversized and regular bars with varying thickness rubber straps between it and the bar. A ball-and-socket joint lets you angle the phone so glare doesn’t reflect directly into your face. It’s easy to set it tight enough to stay in position, but loose enough to let your adjust while riding. There’s a locking slide to keep the phone in place once snapped in. I never had any issues with it rattling or sliding out of position.

The screen’s functions and home, on/off and volume buttons all work just fine through the cover, though the mute switch is a bit tougher to operate. The speaker outputs/mic input on the bottom double as pressure equalization vents and do a pretty decent job of letting sound pass through. It’s a bit muted, but I was able to get Siri to text message Sweetie with surprising accuracy while riding along at 15-17mph. The benefit of this is that you can easily (and virtually hands free) get directions home should you fall off pace and not have a cue sheet.

Lifeproof waterproof iPhone case and bicycle handlebar mount review

The case consists of three pieces: front and back panels and an earphone port plug. The yellow rubber seal keeps water out, but it must be kept clean. In fact, Lifeproof provides detailed (read: lengthy) video instructions on their website about how to properly insert your phone and close the case. The short of it is this:

  1. Don’t touch the inside of the screen cover, because apparently it’s very difficult to ever get clean.
  2. Clean your phone obsessively before putting it in.
  3. Insert top first, then press the bottom of the phone in.
  4. Place bottom cover in from the top first, pressing it shut as you go down.
  5. Close the clasp that covers the sync/charging port.

The port cover allows you to charge/sync your phone without removing the case, but we found it doesn’t fit some third party cables’ pin connector section.

Not shown, there’s also a waterproof headphone jack extension that lets you use headphones without really compromising its waterproofness. Two basic headphone port plugs are included, which is good because they’re small (read: easily lost).

Lifeproof waterproof iPhone case and bicycle handlebar mount review

I tested the waterproof claims briefly at my brother’s pool. Both of these pics were taken with the phone underwater, one aimed down, the other up. My phone was perfectly dry, but this was shortly after receiving the case. Over the past couple months, the case hasn’t snapped quite as tightly shut as when new. It could just be that the seal needs to be pulled out and cleaned, but since I don’t plan on taking my phone underwater, it hasn’t been a priority.

Should you decide to use it for a life aquatic, you’ll need to use the volume button as the shutter button. When submerged, the touchscreen doesn’t work because the water is acting as one giant finger touching the entire screen. So, you’ll have to select the camera before going under, and choose between video and still, too. The lens is an anti-reflective, optical glass lens. Picture quality through it is great…I couldn’t tell the difference between photos take with and without the case on.

The case is polycarbonate with some shock absorption built in. It not only protects against water, but sand, snow, ice and road/trail grit as well. This includes sweat from being in a jersey pocket. For the all-weather, adventurous rider, it’s a good option.

One caveat: If you have a stick-on screen protector, you’ll want to remove it before using with the Lifeproof case. I kept mine on initially and the case’s screen cover would “stick” to it, giving the appearance of a drop of water being squished between the case and screen. Without a screen protector, the screen is clear if slightly harder to read in direct sunlight. I could still type pretty well, but hitting the keys at the edge of the screen was minimally less accurate. For the most part, I just put the case on when I’m heading out for a ride, then remove it when I get home.

Retail is $79.99 and $39.99 for the handlebar mount, though you can find them cheaper. Worried about fitting your ANT+ dongle on it to sync up with any power meters or other sensors? Check out Wahoo Fitness’ bluetooth speed/cadence/HR sensors, which don’t require any additional hardware attached to your phone.

Comments

Greg S - 07/15/12 - 6:11pm

I think the author missed what this case is all about as indicated by his last sentence in the second to last paragraph. I have been using one of these for over a month now and I have found no reason to remove the case. It provides full functionality and still slips into your pocket. To achieve the thin shell, results in delicate seals that are not favorable to constant opening and closing. If that is your need, then look to the older Otterbox cases, with large latches, thick o-ring seals and thick casings. (Otter box is just now advertising it’s response to this case in their “Armor” series which is a near knock off to this case.) I think the term “case” is misleading for this product. Think of it as a protective skin that overlays the phone with minimal bulk but as a side benefit is waterproof. It’s really designed to be put on and left on the phone. I take it to construction projects, use it for mountain biking, backpacking, and white water kayaking without needing to remember to always bring along a “case” to put the phone in.

mc - 07/15/12 - 7:58pm

I have been using this case for the past 4 months and love it. I too do not keep opening and closing the case because, as Greg S says above, it provides full functionality and still slips in my pocket. I sweat a lot when I exercise so I was looking for a case I could put my phone in and not worry about it being ruined by sweat. the case is perfect in my back jersey pocket- I no longer worry that I can’t ride w/out my phone

JoeKing - 07/16/12 - 12:12am

Anyone who texts while riding in a group is an asshat who is beyond the contempt due drivers who do it.

I thought the reason you carry a phone is only for emergencies. If you need outside distraction while riding I feel sorry for you. One of cycling’s great joys is the solitude of being in the moment..undisturbed by the outside world.

mgr - 07/16/12 - 4:57am

@Joeking,

Maybe JUST maybe its for people that use it like a garmin GPS with an app to do so ;-)

BikeTart - 07/16/12 - 7:48am

That’s an *awful* bit of bar tape wrapping…!

Uncle Ned - 07/16/12 - 8:59am

I have had one for the last six months. I love it.

It is life proof and “four year old son” proof.

I also have the handle bar mount and love that for road and light XC rides. I have not yet had a need to use the handlebar mount on a really technical trail ride, so cannot comment on that.

Brandon - 07/16/12 - 9:22am

I have the case and love it. Except for the screen. It is not as scratch proof as it claims. I have a scratch on the screen and so does my wife (just the case not the iPhone). It does say that after opening the case more than 10 times the seals start to wear out. Keep it in the case. Other downsides are the bottom plug! Only the thin Apple plug can fit in the charge port. Same with headphones. Apple only or use the adapter. Blue tooth works fine though. I have the bike mount but not on my bike. It is on my motorcycle so when I ride in the rain the phone is safe and I can see the gps or who is calling while I ride. Love that. Sound muffled was noticed at first but I go used to it quickly. I don’t even notice now.

JoeKing - 07/16/12 - 10:55am

@mgr

” but I was able to get Siri to text message Sweetie with surprising accuracy while riding along at 15-17mph”

is what I was commenting on.

satisFACTORYrider - 07/16/12 - 11:34am

i’m w/joe king on this. it makes you an asshat. gps? seriously? what did you do before? ride around in circles so you wouldn’t get lost?

Troll Face - 07/16/12 - 12:22pm

@Joe Blow and Mr. Factory Rider

Strava bro!

You guys must not be proper spandex wearing roadies. iPhone mount equipped with bluetooth +ant device will allow you to see your heart rate, cadence, and speed at a single glance. It’s not about getting lost, its about going faster.

Frank - 07/16/12 - 1:29pm

Anyone ridden with one of these off-road (more than just ‘light XC’)?

RUSTYDOGG - 07/16/12 - 2:08pm

Eh. The mount is a wee bit huge. Kinda ugly poking off the bars like that. I’ll stick with my 800.
The case on the other hand works very well. Have had one for about a year. Sweat, dirt sand. No problem. Come home and rinse off the phone and towel dry. Kicking it in the pool on a raft with phone in drink holder. No worries. They’re coming out with one for the IPAD pretty soon too. Don’t know why it is taking so long!? China must be backed up.

satisFACTORYrider - 07/16/12 - 5:18pm

@troll face – i’m just into skill and not fitness. i have to use dial up to post this!

Chris - 07/17/12 - 11:12pm

Use this with the GoPro wifi backpack(when the app comes out) and you can have camera mount on helmet and have iPhone or better iPod touch on bar to see what your shooting!!!

FizzyPaleFace - 07/18/12 - 5:02pm

The wife and I have been sharing one for our various activities (I mtb she paddleboards) and have loved the case so far. Definitely can take a beating and is well waterproof. She has now done 3 different races with it strapped to the top of the board (with her bluetooth earphones in) and has had zero complaints. I have used it in the off time during my mtn bike races, simply sticking it in the jersey pocket after starting Strava to map the ride. Great little case and well worth the money. I am thinking of getting my own as i commute to work everyday and I track my mileage via Strava. This would keep from having to drop it in my jersey pocket (not a big deal) but as Tyler said, with the new Wahoo kit it would take the place of my Cateye wireless kit.

slimtirm - 07/21/12 - 11:35am

I used my lifeproof case for swimming laps and listen to music.
It worked 3 times the 4th it leaked and damaged my new iphone!!!
Lifespoof (no misspell) said they would only replace the case!!!

[...] waterproof iPhone 4 case, which we reviewed here, will be getting three new colors soon. Blue, green and red will join purple, pink, white and [...]

Cliff - 05/08/13 - 9:47pm

Guys- I just got the LifeProof case and bike mount and was amazed at how much it rattles when I ride. Anyone have a clean solution to the rattle? I’m riding my road bike on paved, but not all that smooth paths in Minneapolis and the rattle is making me crazy…

Rocky - 06/12/13 - 6:37pm

I have had my Lifeproof for my iphone5 for about 6 months and it works flawlessly. On bikes, on kayaks and even surfing. I have had the bike mount for over a month now and mine rattles also. That is why I was checking out this forum. My only solution, so far, is to plug in my headphones and turn up the volume.

Boyd Hutton - 06/17/13 - 9:51pm

Do NOT purchase the LifeProof bike and bar mount for the iPhone 5 unless you enjoy watching your smartphone skid across the road into oncoming traffic. At the slightest bump or vibrations the clamp will eject your phone from the mount.

I’m guessing they felt confident enough with their mount for the iPhone 4 and just lengthened it without actually testing it out. Unfortunately, it’s too flexy and flimsy to maintain proper clamping force to hold the phone in place.

Mine ejected the LifeProof cased phone 3 times the first ride out before the fatal instance in which a car in oncoming traffic ran over my phone. The mount for the iPhone 5 is not worth trusting your phone with.

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