iPad Air

LifeProof Fre iPad Air Review

Go ahead, take your iPad Air into the ocean. It’ll be fine IF you have the LifeProof Fre.


The LifeProof Fre for the iPad Air is one of the very few cases that offers water and shock protection for your iPad Air. It comes with a built-in screen protector, is waterproof up to 6.6 ft and shock-proof from 4ft. It offers great access to the screen of your iPad air and the case feels really solid in general.

One of the things that we noticed that annoyed us about this case is that the screen protector STILL produces a rain-bowing effect. This is the 4th variation of the Fre that we’ve had from LifeProof and they still haven’t changed it. For this tough iPad case, we gave it a score of 4.1 Eh’s out of 5.

Watch the COMPREHENSIVE LifeProof Fre iPad Air review video

LifeProof
Fre


“4.1


(out of 5)



Full Review
Video Playlist
  • Price:

    $109.99

  • Pros:

    - Provides great protection for the iPad Air
    - Built in screen protector
    - Feels solid

  • Cons:

    - Screen protector may produce rain-bowing effects
    - Glare is noticeable
    - Diffuses the Retina screen of the iPad Air
    - Fairly expensive

  • Potential Problems:

    - None that were observed

  • DESIGN

  • Weight/Bulk (4/5):

    - The LifeProof Fre is one of the thinner rugged iPad Air cases
    - Adds a bit of bulk but doesn't really detract from the slimness of the iPad Air

  • Ease of installation (4/5):

    - LifeProof Fre is easy to install/uninstall
    - Case comprises of 2 parts, taken apart by peeling back the rear panel from the bottom of the case
    -LifeProof has included an un-installation tool that will pro-long the life of the case

  • Build Quality (4/5):

    - Screen protector should be better (rain-bowing, glare and diffusion of the the retina screen has existed on all LifeProof Fre's that we've tested)
    - Good mix of rubber and polycarbonate makes the case easy to use

  • PROTECTION

  • Shock Protection (4/5):

    - Provides shock protection up to 4ft /1.2m
    - Successfully passed by bowling the LifeProof Fre down an alley

  • Water Protection (4/5):

    - LifeProof Fre provides water protection up to depths of 6.6 ft for 1 hour
    - Successfully tested in a river

  • Screen Protection (4/5):

    - Protects against everyday bumps/scratches
    - We tested the screen protector of a LifeProof Fre (the two screen protectors feel very similar) on an iPhone 5S by stabbing it with a kitchen knife. The screen protector required quite a bit of effort to puncture.

  • FUNCTIONALITY

  • iPad Air Functionality (4.5/5):

    - Able to access all buttons easily
    - Sound coming from speakers is enhanced
    - Easy access to hardware ports
    - Larger headphone plugs can be used easily with the LifeProof Fre

  • Screen Usability (5/5):

    - LifeProof Fre provides easy access swipe menus
    - Edges of the case do not get in the way
    - Gap between screen protector and touchscreen is noticeable and results in a rain-bowing effect

  • Screen Viewability (3/5):

    - Suffers from rain-bowing effects
    - Glare is quire noticeable
    - Fingerprint smudging is nominal
    - Diffuses the Retina screen of the iPad Air

Design - A very functional, well designed case
In terms of weight/bulk, the LifeProof Fre is only 10mm thick and weights only 227g. These numbers seem quite impressive until you realize that you’re more than doubling the thickness of your iPad and adding approx. 50% more weight. The whole case add an additional 3/8 to ednge of your entire ipad. With all that being said, this tough iPad case is a little slimmer than other cases on the market.

Installing the case is fairly straightforward. Put the iPad air in the cavity of the case and snap the two pieces of the case together. Uninstalling the case is now extremely easy with LifeProof’s fancy little uninstall tool. This little piece of plastic is such a good idea and I’m really surprised how this little orange thing has made me so happy when dealing with LifeProof cases.

This case does not feel cheap unlike the Fre’s for the iPhone’s. The back panel feels tough and is quite rigid. When you hold this case, it feels like your iPad Air can take some punishment. The front panel feels much flimsier but based on all the awful things that we’ve done to LifeProof Fre cases, we can safely say that flimsy does not equate to bad protection.

Protection - Unbeatable day-to-day protection

The LifeProof Fre for the iPad Air is waterproof up to 6.6 ft for 1 hour and shockproof up to 4 ft and based on our tests, we have no reason to believe other wise. The case is made waterproof by the o-rings that run along the inside of the back panel. The headphone jack is made waterproof by a plug and the lightning port connector is covered by an orange gasket.

Functionality - Everything can be accessed. Generally
In terms of accessing your iPad Air, there isn’t anything on the LifeProof Fre that get’s in the way. All the buttons and switches are easily accessed. Getting to the headphone jack is easily done through the plastic nub at the top and the hole is large enough to fit non-stock Apple headphones. The lightning port connector is covered by a latch that’s similar to every LifeProof case that we’ve tested. It’s orange now, which is different.

The sound coming from your iPad Air is not muted, in fact from our test, it actually increase the sound from your iPad Air by a tiny amount.

For the screen usability, the built-in screen protector of the LifeProof Fre allows you to easily access every corner of the iPad screen as well as the swipe menus easily. The edges of the front panel are far away enough from the touchscreen that you can easily use a stylus as well with this case.

The LifeProof Fre fails a bit with the screen viewability. Glare coming off this screen is pretty bad and there is still a rain-bowing effect that has existed on all Fre cases that we’ve reviewed. The screen protector diffuses the touchscreen which reduces the clarity of the iPad Air.


Click here for a comparison between the LifeProof Fre and the LifeProof Nuud case for the iPad Air? We’ve got you covered!

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