When word came from LifeProof that they had a new iPad mini case available to test, my virtual hand shot up. Since Doug Logan gave a thumbs up to the larger version of this case, as well as to the original iPhone case (read Keeping Your iPhone Dry: LifeProof Excels), and the manufacturer describes it as “Water proof, dirt proof, snow proof and shock proof”, I was pretty sure it would be up to the task of protecting my new favorite screen from the elements.
In one month of hard use, I’ve been very impressed. The screen is just as touch-sensitive as a naked iPad, and the external buttons (volume and on/off) respond with only a little extra pressure. In fact the only adjustment I’ve made to former habits is to turn the screen off instead of closing the magnetic cover.
When I first received the case, I wondered how I was going to test it properly. My iPad lives on dry land, a portable screen for checking email and websurfing when I’m trying to avoid my desk. But even on dry land, my fingers are usually damp with sweat, salt water, or the outside residue from an icy glass of something. This case eliminates the need for clean dry hands before logging in.
And while test sailing the new J/88 on Narragansett Bay, I carried it along as a waterproof camera, too. For the entire afternoon the iPad was either hanging around my neck from the provided carrying strap, or in use as a camera. Because the case adds little weight or bulk and the strap is wide enough not to bite into my shoulders, it was an easy transition from tucked behind my back to snapping a quick photo. (Unfortunately the strap sometimes strayed into photos as a black blur, but that should probably be blamed on the operator.)
The only thing that’s hard on this case is popping it open to remove it. Even after several openings and closings it can be tricky to twist open the bottom and unsnap it. The size of the coin isn’t specified in the directions, but it’s crucial; a nickel is the best fit into the grooves at either end of the bottom edge.
Fortunately, there’s no need to remove the case for everyday use. The charging port is easily accessed through a door that clicks open, and the headphone jack can be reached by popping out a rubber stopper. The speakers sound normal through the somehow waterproof grates along the bottom edge. And there’s even a nice fingernail-sized switch on the right side (just above the volume controls) that locks or unlocks the screen alignment, a must for those of us who like to read while lying on our side.
My only long term concern is the screen, which seems to attract smudges and grease more than the naked iPad screen. Of course that could also be the fringe benefit of dirty fingers; I no longer make sure I have clean dry hands before I swipe. And since the screen seems to clean up fine without scratching, a little maintenance will probably do the trick.
For more info, visit LifeProof.
Photos courtesy Paul Cronin Studios