Griffin Survivor+Catalyst

It was a pleasant time, gathered with family on the sandy East coast beach. There was a gentle breeze and a calming 80 degree forecast. Everything was going perfectly until I had the displeasure of dropping my naked iPhone on the beach. What a way to kill your afternoon.

Obviously, when Sebastien asked me to do a beach-friendly iPhone case roundup, I was certainly onboard with the idea. After spending the remainder of the afternoon making homemade ice cream and sucking the sand out of my iPhone’s speakers, ports, and mute switch, I was cautiously excited to have removed all of the visible sand grains from my infected device. Nothing will stop your heart faster than dropping a $600 iPhone into the slushy beach sand, or swimming pool, or your favorite mixed drink, an oncoming wave, or everyone’s favorite place to drop a phone, the toilet.

Inside, I highlight multiple waterproof options to keep your Apple product safe from the elements this summer, and year-round for that matter…


First to the waterproof scene, LifeProof is ubiquitous with the water lovers among us. In fact, when I think waterproof, I often go straight for the LifeProof line. Although the company was recently purchased by Otterbox, it continues to make its own cases and seemingly operate independently of its new ownership.

LifeProof fre

fre” is the newest iPhone addition and, like all LifeProof products, protects against water, dirt, snow, and shock. Fre is slimmer, lighter, louder and stronger than previous versions, for which I can vouch, having held the case at CES 2013. For a touch of style, the back now displays the Apple logo through a small window, if that makes a difference to you. The iPhone is fully functional in the case, including the ability to hear through the speakers, both for calls and music.

Most importantly, the case is waterproof, which will obviously also protect against sandy beaches. According to the LifeProof tech specs, the case meets IP-68 standards for Ingress Protection, specifically for water. Fre will withstand a depth of 6.6 feet for 1 hour and every single case is water tested before being shipped to customers. For more details, check out this product video.

For the company that invented waterproof cases, $79 will get you the quality protected LifeProof case.


Often preferred by rough and rugged iPhone users, the OtterBox line is not necessarily known for waterproof cases, perhaps leading them to the LifeProof acquisition. However, like many new companies in 2013, OtterBox offers their own addition to the waterproof category with Armor.

OtterBox Armor Series

Like all OtterBox cases, strength is the primary function with a drop rating of 10 feet to concrete and the incredible ability to withstand 2 tons of direct pressure. This rugged case clamps together with metal hitches and uses silicon port plugs and flaps to cover important entry points.

One concession for the case is the ability to prevent water ingression at a depth of 6.6 feet, but for only 30 minutes, in contrast to LifeProof’s 1 hour. When choosing the OtterBox, decide whether severe impact and crushing protection are priorities. Because of its highly shock absorbent ability, it sacrifices a slimmer profile than some competitors.

For a closer look, check out the product video. If you want to pick one up, it will set you back $99, but is offered for a significantly reduce price on Amazon, at $73.


Also testing the waters this year, Incipio brings a waterproof case to life. Although the new ATLAS case is a newbie in a growing marketing, Incipio is boasting a water damage warranty with the purchase of a new case, showing confidence in ways competitors are not.

Incipio ATLAS

The outside shell is a proprietary Plextonium material, which Incipio uses throughout its product line, and provides a protective outer layer. Inside, a shock absorbent liner provides drop protection. Gaskets and membranes protect the headphone jack and speakers while still providing access when required.

The ATLAS also passed IP-68 standards, providing 6.56 feet depth coverage for up to 1 hour. Additionally, the case is dust and shock proof like its competitor cases. For a closer look, check out the product video. At $72 on Amazon, the case is a mid range purchase.


Another new arrival for the 2013 year, Griffin announced the Survivor + Catalyst. Griffin boasts years of iOS accessory experience, yet they have failed, until now, to release an all weather case.

Griffin Survivor Catalyst

In addition to some of the competition, Survivor also boasts the IP-68 standard, preventing water and particulates. However, where Griffin takes a leap, or plunge, the Survivor can dive almost a full 10 feet. In addition to waterproofing, the Griffin meets standards for drop protocols, tested and proven to absorb shock without device damage at 6.6 feet.

The Survivor also comes in variety of friendly colors to fit any preference and offers a slim design, keeping it handy for a pocket. Importantly, the silicon O rings are designed to provide a visual confirmation of water tight seal around the interior edge. The Survivor + Catalyst is $60, which is the cheapest option.


Hitcase, working closely with GoPro, developed the waterproof and action-junkie proof Hitcase Pro iPhone 5 case. The Hitcase Pro is a water tight option with a built-in 3x wide angle lens, providing a 170 degree field of view.

HitCase Pro

Waterproof and ruggedized, Hitcase Pro is designed specifically for action sport participants that are looking for a way to record their extreme adventures. Ranging the furthest, Hitcase will plunge a depth of 33 feet, making it the deepest of any touchscreen capable iPhone case. A patent pending H-seal design provides the opportunity for deep, underwater exploration or keeps the dust off during a bike ride.

Ensuring proper shock protection, the ShockSeal and ShockPad offer full iPhone coverage inside the shell. Additionally the proprietary custom impact absorbing Poron, protects the back of the iPhone. Finally, the machined stainless steel volume and power buttons help give access to the vitals and an ABS Polycarbonate shell is textured for easy grip.

Admittedly Hitcase believes their case is like a pair of hiking boots: the case will not be used all the time, just when the time is right. Making it easy for action recording, the case is completely compatible with the GoPro Railslide Mount and comes with a tripod, StickR Mount, and wrist strap.

At $129 on Amazon, this is the most expensive option, but clearly earns the higher price tag.

What do you guys think about the roundup? Obviously, there are other options out there, but the ones highlighted are some of the front runners. Do you have any others the iDB community should consider?

  • chris125

    Lifeproof is trash. Had nothing but problems with them. Liked the atlas but also had a decent amount of issues that made it not worth the hassle.

    • CPVideoMaker101

      What are you talking about? I have a lifeproof case on my iphone 4 and it’s phenomenal. It has saved my phone from many drops and i use it every day at the pool. It’s one amazing case. It also survived getting ran over by a car. If that is not a tough case, I don’t know what is.

      • chris125

        The 4 cases were good. Their iPhone 5 cases are garbage.

      • CPVideoMaker101

        Oh :/ What where some problem you have. If I do mention one problem, it’s the touchscreen is kinda bubbly. But that is what I get for a nearly invisible looking case. It looks nice.
        Anyway, I got mine for free for winning Video of the Week twice with a pirated case on ebay. WIN.

      • chris125

        The touchscreen, bottom latch not keeping water out, just not keeping water out period(I had multiple cases and all had the same issues. I was disappointed after owning a lifeproof for iPhone 4

      • CPVideoMaker101

        They are fixed by now. I can use it well underwater as long as you don’t open the bottom latch. My little cousin opened it and… phone still works fine surprisingly. Anyway, to me, lifeproof cases are my favorite becuase of how well they work for me and I recommend it to everyone. Also, I got 2 of them for free… can’t bother about free things…

  • Liam Mulcahy

    I have a giffin case it’s great

  • Linton Findlay

    I go YOLO caseless. Tempted to get liquapel though

  • johnsdoe00

    LifeProof all the way! Can’t wait to get my iPhone 5S in a LifeProof Nuud case!

  • Ishaan Malhotra

    Anyone willing to donate one of these cases? :p

  • QuarterSwede

    DryCase is the best for diving. Try going down 20ft for hours with any of the others.

  • Mauricio Dominguez

    C´mon guys … our best option (if you are a serious diving fan) for our iPhone 5 is Seashell SS-i5! … 130 ft of total protection with IPEX class 8 waterproofing and IPEX class 6 for dustproofing … the King of the Hill in water proof protection … my second choice is Hitcase products.

  • Stephen Hagans

    Nice! That’s my handsome nephew in the top photo (behind the fish tank, lol)

  • Aint nobody got money for that.

  • Just today I used my Lifeproof case on my iPad in a public pool. It was really cool being able to take it down the slide, or off the diving bored, and get some fun footage for a video. I wouldn’t stop getting stopped by people asking if it was waterproof or not… They where freaking out that I didn’t know what I was doing with such an expensive device!

  • bamalam

    Sorry for not being able to get past the opening segment of this article, but that little story is just like a needle suddenly being dragged across a record. It dashes humanity’s future outlook against the rocks. And then blows its nose on it. And then empties a doggie poop bag on it:
    You seriously took a $600+ iPhone to the beach, let alone out of the store, period, without having it in a case? Literally, literally amazing. Stephen Hawking, roll aside- utter stupididty is now documented to be insurmountable. But go into that gentle night unashamed, for you fought your best.
    An alien, looking so forlornely down upon the failed human project on this big blue ball, would have absolutely no alternative but to drink alien drano rather than try to defend intelligent life on this planet to the interstellar court. It’s over now, the collective bell curve tanked. Oh dinosaur killing asteroid, wherefore art thou in this time of need for a mercy extermination?