During the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic Games, the number of athletes using iPhones to take photos and video during the "march of nations" was staggering. Who knows? When the 2016 Summer Games start up in Rio de Janeiro, the swimmers might be using their iPhones in the pools during their post-race celebrations if they pick up the driSuit endurance waterproof case for iPhone 4 and 4S (US$59.95).
In the past I've looked at several waterproof iPhone cases, with the most successful at this point probably being the LifeProof cases. Those cases cost $10 more, but are tested to Military Specifications MIL-STD-810F-516.5 standards for shock and impact protection.
How deep can you go in water with the driSuit? Tim Collins, general manager of driSuit Technologies, said that the case is tested at 5 meters -- more than enough for snorkeling or surfing.
The driSuit uses something that's completely different to protect the iPhone's screen -- a fluidic membrane that contains a non-toxic fluid and allows for full use of the touch screen while submerged. That screen feels a bit weird at first, but you quickly realize that it works very well underwater for manipulating the iPhone's touch screen.
Looks-wise, the driSuit endurance is nothing spectacular. The company does have some color versions that are probably more attractive than the black plastic model I received for review, but if you're looking for a waterproof case I don't think that fashion is your main goal in life.
The iPhone 4 or 4S slides into the bottom of the case, after which time you snug a small door to the bottom and then click down two latches. There's enough space in the back of the case to carry one credit card or piece of ID.
As you'd expect, all openings are covered with a silicone material to prevent water from coming in. driSuit does sell waterproof headphones ($19.95) that work with the case, and there's also a bright yellow flotation wrist strap ($9.95) to make sure that your iPhone is recovered in case you're eaten by a shark. A regular wrist strap is included with the case and attaches through a mount on the top of the driSuit.
Like the LifeProof case, driSuit asks you to test the endurance case to insure that you know how to properly latch it and that it does remain dry on the inside. To do this, you close the case and hold it underwater for 10 minutes (LifeProof suggests an hour). If no water leaks in, then you've closed the case properly and you're ready to roll.
I decided to give the driSuit the one-hour test, since I rely on my iPhone 4S and really didn't want it to go for a swim if the case leaked. As expected, it came through high and dry, so next I took a deep breath and popped the iPhone 4S into the case.
Here's a short video of a swim to the bottom of a sink full of water (about ten inches deep):
Wasn't that fun? Not really. Anyway, I really didn't feel like suiting up and going to the pool, or taking a shower with my iPhone. Remember, driSuit recommends that you don't go below 5 meters underwater with the case, so any hopes of attaching a weight and line to the case to turn your iPhone into a cheap ROV is out of the question. Shooting underwater video in the hot tub? Fine. Just don't send it to us.
It's not the prettiest case in the world, but if you're looking for protection from water or would like to use your iPhone while snorkeling to take video, the driSuit is going to do the job for you. With the positive feedback you get from the latches, you'll be sure that your iPhone is going to remain dry while it's in the driSuit endurance case.
- Excellent waterproofing tested down to 5 meters
- Unique fluidic membrane over screen feels odd, but works great to insure touchscreen accuracy underwater
- Price is less than some competing waterproof cases
- Latch mechanism is good feedback for knowing that the case is completely closed
- Kind of a boring design, but it definitely delivers in the waterproofing department
Who is it for?
- Anyone who wants to use an iPhone in or around water, particularly surfers. Skiers or hikers who get into wet conditions are going to love this case.