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Lifeproof FRE for iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus Case Review
      #49127 - 02/16/16 07:14 PM

Lifeproof has been making rugged waterproof iPhone cases since the iPhone 4. Unwilling to rest on their laurels, they have continued to improve their engineering while wisely leaving the minimalist aesthetics mostly alone. This has earned Lifeproof a place at the top of the perceived reliability index, and rightfully so. While there are a number of strong competitors in the waterproof case market, none of them have the time in market that Lifeproof has, and for consumers anxious to protect their $500-$700 investment from moisture (the kryptonite of smartphones), a strong reputation brings peace of mind.

Unlike Lifeproof's top-of-the-line case, The Nuud, which gains its waterproof powers by way of a gasket around the front glass of your device, The FRE uses a traditional screen cover. Although this sounds like a value-added feature, it's actually a less expensive (and less innovative) way to keep moisture out. For some, however, it's the only option because allowing water to come in direct contact with your iPhone screen is a difficult thing to wrap one's brain around. Since it's release, I've come across a number of amusing consumer reviews on various retail sites slamming the Nuud line of cases with one-star reviews because the authors couldn't accept the fact that glass is, in fact, completely waterproof. That being said, there are those who prefer screen covers for the additional protection they provide. In particular, if you take your phone to the seaside, a screenless case may get scratched due to the presence of quartz in beach sand that will easily mark even the Gorilla Glass of your iPhone with complete impunity. Of course, this very same sand will also scratch the unreplaceable cover of your FRE or similar (and much, much more easily), and at $90 a pop, you're approaching the price of some iPhone screen replacement fees. With this conundrum in mind, it's easy to see why Lifeproof makes both; there just isn't a single best design for everybody.

The FRE is impossibly thin and light for a case that has been drop-tested to MIL-STD 810G standards (2m onto plywood covered concrete). This is a testament to the engineering skills of Lifeproof; Exactly as bulky as it needs to be, and no more. The FRE installs in seconds. In fact, you will probably look at it skeptically after snapping it together because you will think that the process was just a bit too easy for the case to be truly waterproof. This is also a testament to superior engineering. To get some idea of how narrow the tolerances are for Lifeproof cases, when Apple released the iPad Mini 2, it was 0.3mm thicker than its predecessor, and Lifeproof cases made for the first generation would not fit the second. Yeah, they know what they're doing.

Once installed, you will retain full access to all ports/buttons/switches, as well as Touch ID (expect to re-scan a fingerprint or two due to the extra membrane covering the sensor). Accessing the headphone and Lightning ports will require that you remove some additional waterproofing, and once removed, be careful to put them back in place before exposing your device to water.

The FRE is available in black, white/grey, black/blue/green, pink/green, and purple/light purple/grey so there should be something here for everyone. While I can easily recommend all Lifeproof cases to those in need of waterproofing, choosing a model (FRE or Nuud) will depend entirely on whether or not you like cases with built-in screen covers.

Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4.5
What's Hot: Waterproof to 2 meters, drop-proof to 2 meters, amazingly thin.
What's Not: Uses a plastic screen protector (unlike Lifeproof's Nuud waterproof case).
Price: $89.99
Website: Lifeproof

Reviewed by: Tom Slayton




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