A phone case that’s waterproof, dirt proof, and drop proof, all while not impeding the functionality so much that people won’t use it has a hard road ahead of it. LifeProof has managed to sell a boatload of cases at around $100 each. Clearly we, the consumer, must think they’re doing something right. That being true, why is my iPhone 6 Plus in its third LifeProof Nüüd case?
For their waterproofing and general durability, LifeProof has gotten my phone case dollars for the 4, 5, and 6 series iPhones. I have been satisfied, overall. Of course, there are things I’d prefer were better, like sound quality, and the tendency of the camera protection to cause a double-vision effect when taking photos in low light. The built-in screen protectors of the 4 and 5 series cases were also prone to rainbowing — annoying, but not a deal-breaker. When I got my iPhone 6 Plus, I knew I wanted to get a LifeProof case for rain, pool, beach, and kid protection. Initially, there wasn’t one available, and when they finally released it, the only one was the Nüüd , which has no screen protector. I figured I’d give it a shot, after all, no screen protector, no rainbows. The first chance I could after they went on sale, I went to BigBox and got one.
This review is my experience and opinion so far. It’s about 1,000 words. For the abridged version, skip to the bottom and look for the TL;DR. Beware: if you do that, I’ll write an essay about how Jar Jar Binks was the best character in the Star Wars universe.
My Life in the Nüüd
The first case (the one from BigBox) and the first replacement were made the same way. I assume they were the first generation of the product. In the package were: the front and back of the case, a device placeholder from water testing, an optional screen protector, a cleaning cloth, the headphone adapter, and some paperwork.
After water testing the case, I put it on my phone. It was like summer’s pants in December, a little too tight. The seam didn’t really seem as though it’d come together completely, but I had heard the snaps all the way around. I tried opening, repositioning, and resealing it a few times, but it never was perfect. Bummer.
Like all previous LifeProof cases, I knew I’d need to keep the volume on max for everything. During phone calls, I could hear everyone fine and no one seemed to have any issues hearing me. There were no “fishbowl” or “underwater” complaints from people I talked to. I don’t speakerphone, so I can’t say how that is with the LifeProof case on. What I do a lot of on my phone is watch videos. You probably do, too; social media and news websites are chock full of videos. Sound quality is not a set of words that should be so close together when talking about watching videos or listening to music with this case on. The sound is muffled and tinny at the same time. I tried opening the lightning port cover to see if it would help. Nope. Another bummer.
On the subject of the lightning port cover, the only charge cables that will fit through are the official Apple cables. The bummers keep stacking up. At this point, I was pretty disappointed with the case, but the LifeProof Nüüd was the only reputably produced waterproof case for the iPhone 6 Plus. That is, unless I wanted to order a Catalyst case and wait for it to come in from Hong Kong. Besides, I’ve seen the videos. That case doesn’t hold up well to being opened and closed.
Turns out, neither did the LifeProof case’s lightning port cover. It’s held closed by two small tabs. One of these broke. After testing, I learned that the case was no longer waterproof. I made a warranty claim and was promptly shipped a replacement case. They didn’t even ask for the old one back, so to the recycle bin it went.
This first replacement case fit and functioned exactly the same as the original, right down to the lightning port cover tab breaking off. This time, however, it broke off inside the lightning port and was stuck in there. After the panic faded and my heart rate calmed down, I got the broken tab out with a toothpick and submitted to LifeProof for another replacement case. This time, I asked if there was another option available or on the horizon. There is not, but they did offer to let me get the white version. Having the space gray phone, I stuck with black.
The second replacement came in and I water tested it. Right off the bat, I noticed the fit seemed much better. The seam is nice and tight and the snaps were not just audible, they were solid. I was already used to the poor sound quality and not gaining any benefit from opening the port cover. I had OEM cables everywhere I charged my phone. For those reasons, it wasn’t until my son told me that I learned the sound quality on this version of the case did improve, albeit marginally, with the port cover open. To my surprise, the opening was now bigger, allowing non-official cables to plug in–and extra sound to come out. The cover seems to open and close a bit more easily now, as well.
Overall, the current generation of the LifeProof Nüüd case is an improvement over its predecessor, but it’s still not worth the investment. To its benefit, though, is LifeProof’s fantastic customer service and warranty program. Who knows, maybe the case will keep breaking and they’ll keep improving on it. If that happens, thanks to the warranty, I’ll be at the other end with a great iPhone case. Until then, I guess Nüüd is better than naked.
TL;DR: The first generation of the LifeProof Nüüd case for the iPhone 6 Plus was a bust with a poor fit, terrible sound quality, and a troublesome lightning port cover system. The second generation is better, but not by much.
If you have any experience with this case or something to add, let us know in the comments or on social media.