Five cases to protect your iPhone at the beach

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?