As Apple's iPhone lineup evolves to become more resistant to water exposure, the market for waterproof cases seems to be evolving too. This makes sense when you consider that most people who bought/used waterproof cases didn't actually take their iPhones underwater, but instead simply wanted them protected from everyday exposure to things like rain, dust, snow, etc. This occurred to me after I purchased my iPhone 7 Plus, which freed me from swapping cases every time I wanted to take the dog to the beach. Why swap cases? Because waterproof cases are a bit too claustrophobic for me to use everyday, but when I need one, I need one. With my iPhone 7+, I did without due to its inherent water resistance. Doing so, however, always left me feeling a little bit anxious. Sure, Apple guarantees that their newest phones can withstand "jets" of water such as those caused by splashes, waves, and rain without incurring damage (IP 67). But I always worried a bit about water working its way into the nooks and crannies of my device (particularly the Lightning port) and causing long-term mischief; especially salt water.
Enter the LifeProof Next. Not truly waterproof, but far more waterproof than most daily use cases, The Next made me feel a lot more secure every time a wave hit the pocket of my trunks because I knew that the port, buttons, and mute switch likely didn't have to repel any water. The Next is also not as obtrusive as a truly waterproof case, and in fact, is designed to be accessible enough for everyday use. While it may seem odd to be recommending a case with what sounds like an IP 67 rating for a phone with an IP 67 rating of its own, having an extra layer of defense gave me a great deal of comfort as I repeatedly threw my dog's toy in the knee-deep breakers.
The Next is also a surprisingly rugged case, considering its clear acrylic construction. Drop-tested from 6 meters, the only caveat offered by LifeProof is to always check to ensure that the two pieces didn't come apart in the fall. If this happens, don't worry, it's just the case transferring the impact stress to itself through flexion and expansion. Just snap it back together and away you go. As good as all this sounds, there is a caveat: the price. The Next weighs-in at an eye-watering $79.99, not including the lanyard (another $39.99!). While it does a lot of things really well, it's up to you to decide if it's worth the asking price.
Aesthetically, the Next is quite understated compared to the competition. Available in 4 styles, the case itself is always clear acrylic, but the rubbery bumper on its outer edge is available in black crystal (black), beach pebble (grey), seaside (teal), and cactus rose (pink). My only concern here is that its glossy finish is likely to show scratches more readily than a matte finish would.
Priced at $79.99, The Next may be out of the price range of many buyers. However, if you can afford the asking price and like its style, you will get a daily-use case that is both rugged and water-resistant, yet doesn't come between you and your device in any appreciable way.
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 3.5
What's Hot: Drop-tested to 2 meters. All buttons/switches/ports are completely covered rendering case dustproof/snowproof/splashproof. Slim design. Wireless charging compatible.
What's Not: Priced at extreme high-end compared to competing products. Clear glossy design may make scratches and scuffs more apparent.
Reviewed by: Tom Slayton
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