iPhone 4 Case Review: X Gear Liquid Shield Case for iPhone 4 (ATT and Verizon models) Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: When properly installed, this case is completely watertight, and can be completely submerged as long as you don't go too deep. Also provides decent drop protection.
What's Not: It doesn't float. Absolutely not for everyday use due to inaccessibility of ports and a significantly less responsive touchscreen.
The X Gear Liquid Shield is a completely waterproof case for the iPhone 4. When properly installed, it will keep out everything, and I mean everything, up to and including sand, dust, and water. This case is not designed for everyday use, however, as the screen is difficult to access through the thick silicone skin (although not impossible) and it is difficult to hear and be heard when making calls. But if you plan on taking your phone to an environment that is traditionally inhospitable to phones, such as the beach, don?t leave home without this case.
Size and Fit
The Liquid Shield fits snugly and does not add as much bulk as you'd expect for a waterproof case. It provides full access to all buttons but if you need to charge your phone or use your headphone jack, you?re out of luck. The thickness of the silicone cover, combined with the fact that it does not rest cleanly against the screen means that the touchscreen will be significantly less responsive. However, this is a conscious tradeoff for an unprecedented level of water protection, and is to be expected for a case like this.
Features and Quality
The Liquid Shield case is comprised of a hard plastic inner shell surrounded by a thick silicone sleeve. This sleeve is held in place by a gasket-equipped back plate that is locked down by two very sturdy thumb screws. The first time you install it, however, please proceed slowly, making certain that the silicone cover and the gasket on the back plate are correctly aligned. According to the manufacturer, this case is IP68 Certified, which means that it is completely dustproof and waterproof, even with continuous submersion.
With this knowledge firmly in-hand, I headed off to Hawaii for a family snorkeling vacation where I (thankfully) found the manufacturer to be true to their word when I trepidatiously took my iPhone 4 underwater to capture some once-in-a-lifetime video footage of my boys swimming with sea turtles. Each time, I emerged from the sea to find my iPhone bone-dry in its liquid shield case. As I said previously, correct installation of this case is key, as is judicious protection of the silicone skin from punctures and/or tears, so don?t send me angry emails if your mileage varies in this regard. Lastly, don?t go too deep. Although the manufacturer rates this as being waterproof to 9 feet, it doesn?t take much movement through the water at even 3 feet to generate an equivalent amount of pressure so if you feel bold enough to follow in my footsteps, for heaven?s sake, stay on the surface!
Videos and photos shot through this case will be slightly blurry due to the unavoidable presence of the silicone cover. This is a small price to pay, however, for otherwise unattainable underwater footage. Lastly, the case doesn't float, so you will need attach a strap through one of the four lanyard holes on the case to your wrist when swimming or snorkeling in the water.
One final caveat; this case is not for everyday use. It does not allow access to the docking port or the headphone jack, and the thick silicone cover makes the touchscreen significantly less responsive. In my experience, however, this is simply the price of admission, and one which I gladly paid in order to take my iPhone 4 places that would otherwise be inaccessible.
The Liquid Shield case is a classic example of substance over form. It is designed to be functional, not pretty. However, the inner shell and back plate are clear plastic, which nicely complement the clear silicone outer layer. All in all, for something that provides this much protection, it?s surprisingly appealing.
The X Gear Liquid Shield Case accomplishes what it sets out to do. Once you correctly install it, your iPhone 4 will be impervious to dirt, dust, and shallow submersion in water. I swam in the ocean with this thing for a week and my iPhone 4 came out dry every time. Don?t expect to make this your everyday case, however, unless you?re assigned to Seal Team 6. You will have no access to ports (although the buttons are functional) and trying to use the touchscreen for extended periods of time will drive you crazy.