For most of us, our smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of our daily uniform – whether that’s in casual or business dress or in our workouts. So, with a $650+ computer sitting in your pocket, it makes sense to protect it as best you can, especially if you use it constantly for pictures and video the way that I do. Today I’m going to be breaking down my thoughts and experiences with the Lifeproof Nüüd case for the iPhone 6/6S – a waterproof, screen-exposed case built for everyday or everyday adventures.
Before I get into the specifics of the LifeProof Nüüd’s performance, let’s take a look at what it’s made of and how it’s put together. The body of the case, particularly on the front and sides, is made from a textured polycarbonate. The top and bottom of the sides and back are covered in a synthetic rubber and silicon for added grip and the back panel is a transparent polymer which makes the Apple branding and such visible – I tested the black case and while transparent, the back of the case is tinted thus making the backside a bit like you’re looking at it through sunglasses.
On the front of the Nüüd, covering the front-facing camera and user audio (ear hole) are membranes meant to protect the phone from water and debris but still leave the phone functional. Covering the home button is a very flexible membrane which still allows users to utilize the Touch ID feature of the iPhone. Each of the side buttons of the iPhone are usable and covered by a rubber toggle, including the mute switch (which is used in reverse once the case is on). On the bottom of the case, the Lightning port is covered by a flip down cover and the headphone jack by a screw-in plug.
“But what about the screen?” you may be asking right about now. Well, there is no screen cover. At. All. This is where the LifeProof Nüüd gets its name. Rather than having a protective screen which could compromise the operation and full resolution of the screen lying underneath, LifeProof designed this case with an internal seal which lies just underneath the edge of the case. This seal uses pressure against the glass of the screen itself to keep things waterproof. The case does come with an optional scratch protector for the screen just in case you want it.
Now that I’ve given you the skinny on how the LifeProof Nüüd is built, let’s look at how it performed.
First, let’s talk buttons and technical function of the iPhone 6 or 6S within; The power and volume buttons function as they would normally with no changes other than having to sit a bit larger than the profile of the phone because, well, it is a case and the case has to be larger thanks to physics and all. I was very curious to see how the home button would fare being covered with the membrane but I had zero problems with it, which was a pleasant surprise. The mute button and the fact that the direction for muting and unmoving is reversed didn’t bug me at all since I always look at my screen to see that I’ve got it right anyway. My favorite thing about this is the fact that the screen is completely unobstructed. To some, I can see where this may be a case of not trusting the technology and the seal and for that, LifeProof has other cases. For me though, I love the ability to see exactly what I’d see with no case on the iPhone at all.
Moving on to the ports in the LifeProof Nüüd, first, let me mention the audio quality from both ends of a call. For the iPhone user, I didn’t notice any difference when using the regular, non-speakerphone method of talking to someone. For the person on the other end, there is a very small amount of clarity reduction, but I don’t think that if I weren’t specifically looking/listening for that that I would have noticed at all. When using the iPhone’s speaker, both for phone calls or for music/videos/etc., there is some distortion. From what I’ve read the audio is still far ahead of earlier LifeProof models with regard to muffling but the fact is that there is still a bit of distortion as the volume goes higher. For me this is hardly a deal-breaker since, if I’m really that hard up for amazing audio quality, I’ll either remove the case or plug in my headphones. If that’s a bridge too far to cross for you then it really comes down to a decision of having your phone protected or having good, speaker audio.
The Lightning/power and headphone ports are an area where there could possibly be some angst, depending on what accessories you’re using. First the Lightning port; this hole functions perfectly with the Apple Lightning plug however, I have a few plugs which are made by other brands, including some battery packs, which are a different shape and while the plug would still fit the socket just fine, the shape of the plug isn’t compatible with the hole in the case. As for the audio port, there is similar issue, particularly if the headphones you’re using have a 90° plug. The LifeProof Nüüd works just fine with Apple headphones but it’s worth checking your favorite headphones ahead of time. Now, with that said, ANY headphones should work just fine if you use the included headphone adaptor since it extends the headphone port well outside any spatial limitations of the case. One thing I did notice here and there was that the while the audio was always 100% fine, the button functionality on some headphones when using the adaptor required me to be a bit more deliberate with the button and sometimes (maybe 2% of the time) the buttons just didn’t want to work. In those cases I often found that simply rotating the adaptor did the trick so I’m assuming there’s a secondary contact in the mechanism that just wasn’t quite touching.
With regard to protection, I found no problems with my phone and I’ve had this thing in some pretty ugly weather and sweat situations. Admittedly, I didn’t do too much underwater shooting since there is a crack at the bottom of my screen (a good reminder of why a good case is important) but I did try it out but just putting the camera end of the phone in Baby Gearist’s backyard pool while she dove for things and there were no problems. I will also admit here that this leap of faith a nervous moment!
In looking at some customer reviews for the LifeProof Nüüd around the interwebs, there are people who mention that the case (particularly the rubber on the exterior) doesn’t hold up very well. I haven’t noticed this at all and I have to wonder what is causing that. For me, the case looks like new save for a few general abrasions here and there which would be shocking if they weren’t there.
Now the rub with cases such as this – and by that I mean cases that are really meant to handle anything – is that they’re not cheap. The LifeProof Nüüd comes in at $68 – HOWEVER, do check the links below as we’ve found it for as low as $40. If that seems expensive, just think about how much it is to replace an entire phone. Again, I want to be very clear here: If you want 100% audio quality but still have a phone be as protected as this, I’m curious as to what you’ve found that can do that (seriously, let us know), but otherwise consider why you’ve got a case in the first place.
I have to admit that I’m impressed by the LifeProof Nüüd. The speaker audio leaves a bit to be desired but as I mentioned above, that isn’t such a huge deal for me AND I’m able to recode video with no problems or distortion. If you’re looking for a case that can take whatever you can throw at it AND you want to ability to have your screen unobstructed (even though again, that first time under water is a bit nerve-wracking) you’ve got to check out the LifeProof Nüüd.
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Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).