Monday, 13 February 2017 17:13

Be LifeProof, be FRĒ – an almost indestructible smartphone case (review)

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It is not often I am tempted to throw a smartphone from two metres or submerge it in two metres of water for an hour – but guess what? I did. LifeProof’s new FRĒ for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL lived up to all its claims.

LIfeproof FreFirst thanks to Google for the “rental” Pixel XL, that, like any decent rental car, can traverse swamps, climb mountains and withstand use that, if you owned it, you may think twice about! By the way, the Pixel XL is unscathed and iTWire’s review is here. Note that after using the phone for an extended period since the initial review in November and having two firmware and security updates, I need to revisit the review as this already great phone has materially improved.

“With the new Pixel, Google has created a smartphone that has raised the bar delivering a truly incredible experience for its fans,” said Bonnie Soon, LifeProof general manager for APAC. “With its brilliant camera and unlimited storage for photos and videos, Google Pixel users want to be able to capture every moment no matter when or where they happen. And with the LifeProof FRĒ, they can have on the go protection.”

The whole concept of LifeProof FRĒ is to protect a valuable smartphone from life’s greatest misadventures when you are out climbing Everest, cannonballing on a mountain bike, falling overboard from a three-hour cruise, or if you are plain clumsy.

In my case, I was demonstrating an overarm throw replete with FRĒ and Pixel in hand and accidentally let go. After that, I took it for a swim at the local pool and after rinse and repeat (it is IP68 rated) was happy that it lived up to its claims.

FRĒ is available for a range of phones and is deceptively simple to use. It comes in two parts – the upper and lower halves, that fit together around the phone to provide a water/dust/snow/dirt proof seal. The two main ingress points on the Pixel are the USB-C connector and it has a bottom plug and the 3.5mm audio, and it has a screw-in extension cable and plug for that. Provided these are both secured, it will live up to its promises.

Lifeproof Fre comes with

The front “glass” is responsive to touch and did not affect operations at all. Of course, you need to remove the case if you are using the Pixel for VR – that involves using a special opening “wedge” that is provided.

The rear camera lenses and sensors are quite recessed and cleaning them can be a challenge – make sure you have cotton buds handy if you need to. The volume, fingerprint and power buttons are protected by external gussets and worked flawlessly.

The sound from the bottom firing speaker or earpiece was not muffled and it did not affect the microphone clarity.

It adds 49.9g to the Pixel XL’s 168g bulk. Its dimensions are 170 (154.7) x 90 (75.7) x 15 (8.5) mm. It is neither too heavy or bulky but you do notice it in your pocket.

The LifeProof Pixel ($99.95) and Pixel XL ($124.95) cases are available online from lifeproof.com, or from select retailers.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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