If we hadn’t recently put the LifeProof iPhone cover through its paces (Keeping Your iPhone Dry: LifeProof Excels), we might have been hesitant to toss a brand-new latest generation iPad into Long Island Sound on New Year’s Eve day in freezing temperatures, surrounded only by its LifeProof Nüüd case (waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof, shock proof) and the accessory LifeJacket, a bright orange PFD that floats the whole show and provides extra shock absorption.
OK, we were a bit hesitant. The iPad was a Christmas present to someone not quite as excited about gear-testing as the Boats.com editor who smilingly told her there was nothing to worry about. Still, we went by the axiom that faint heart never won fair lady (instead of the obvious corollary – dumb ass loses fair lady). After testing the case in the kitchen sink as per the instructions, we refilled the case with the fresh iPad, put on the LifeJacket with a tether tied to it, and dropped it off a snow-covered dock into the Sound. And we dunked it a few times for good measure.
The case and the Lifejacket did their jobs. The iPad survived. There was no intrusion of water. And if all goes well in the future, that will be the hardest test the iPad will have to face.
The LifeProof iPad case differs from the iPhone case in one significant way. While the phone case has a membrane covering the screen, the iPad case does not. The screen is exposed to the elements (that must be where the Nüüd name comes in), and is sealed by a gasket that runs under the perimeter of the top cover. There’s also an inner gasket that is compressed in a channel between the edges of the two covers when they’re snapped together. There’s no immediate disadvantage to this that we can see – the iPad glass is extremely tough and scratch-resistant; however, we carefully rinsed the salt water off the unit and will take pains in the future to prevent salt, dust, and grit from getting under the edges of the top cover, where it might eventually compromise that gasket.
With the iPhone case, there is a barely perceptible loss of tactile response through the cover membrane. With the iPad case, for obvious reasons, there’s no loss at all. The case comes with a separate translucent kickstand and cover that snaps over the screen for extra protection when traveling.
Again the Lifeproof designers have taken care to provide good access to the controls – home button, screen on/off, volume, and in this case screen-rotation lock. The pad-gasketed trap-door at the bottom of the unit that allows the charging/data wire to be plugged in is just a larger version of the one on the phone case. It’s important to make sure it’s clicked shut. Finally, as on the phone case, there’s a screw-in O-ringed plug for the earphone jack, and an adaptor accessory that allows a jack to be plugged in.
With more and more people using their iPads as primary computers – or at least as vacation and travel computers – the appeal of this LifeProof case to boaters is obvious. The wetter the boat, the more useful the cover will be. Kayakers, river-rafters, PWC riders, and those who spend time in the water as well as on top of it will want to order the LifeJacket as well.