iPhone 6(s+)

LifeProof Fre Review – iPhone 6

 

In our LifeProof Fre Review, we’ve discovered that this iPhone case is thin, provides average protection and will suck the joy out of using your iPhone

Watch the LifeProof Fre Review on YouTube

Today we’re going to review the LifeProof Fre for the iPhone 6. This is the first waterproof case that we’ve found worthy to review for the iPhone 6 and we can say, it’s a pretty average waterproof case.

We’re actually very surprised at how thin this case is. It’s almost as big as a regular slim case and is one of smallest of all the tough cases that we have in our possession. What that being said, there are a couple issues that have crossed over from the Fre’s for the iPhone 5S that we’re not a big fan of, namely the screen view-ability and access to your iPhone in terms of sound and hardware.

Based on our time with this case, we gave it a score of 3.8 Eh’s out of 5. When compared to other tough cases, we’ve rated the Amzer Crusta and Ballistic Hardcore higher though they are not waterproof. We are in the middle of another waterproof iPhone case for the Dog and Bone Wetsuit so stay tuned for that. If you’re wondering how this case fares against other cases, check out our comparison tool!

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     LifeProof Fre
     
    Header
    (out of 5)

    Full Review
    PricePrice:
    $79.99 USD

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    Top Buy Buttons
    ProsPros:
    - Very thin for a shockproof/waterproof case
    - Feels well-built
    ConsCons:
    - Back scratches easily
    - Screen protector diffuses iPhone 6’s Retina HD screen
    - Rain-bowing effects still exist
    - Glare from screen protector 

    - You can only use Apple sized accessories
    Potential ProblemsPotential Problems:
    - O-ring falls out of the ridge easier than other cases so make sure its seated properly
    - Gasket that sits in the latch can fall out
    - High drops may result in the case cracking
    Design Rating
    DESIGN

    (LifeProof Fre)
    Weight/BulkWeight/Bulk (4.75/5):
    - LifeProof Fre is very slim when compared to other tough cases
    InstallEase of Installation (4.5/5):
    - Fairly easy to take apart/install
    - O-ring pops out easier so take care when installing the case
    Build QualityBuild Quality (3.5/5):
    - Despite the great fit, the back of the case scratches easily
    - The LifeProof Fre broke during a 6ft drop (LifeProof did provide a warranty case)
    Protection Rating
    PROTECTION

    (LifeProof Fre)
    Shock ProtectionShock Protection (3/5):
    - Drop-rated to 6.6 ft (standard for shockproof cases)
    - Case didn’t come apart during drops
    Water/Dust ProtectionWater/Dust Protection (3/5):
    - Waterproof up to a depth of 6.6ft
    - LifeProof doesn’t provide a headphone jack extension that allows you to use waterproof headphones with the case
    Screen ProtectionScreen Protection (4/5):
    - Thick plastic screen protector
    - Protected the iPhone’s screen from face first drops on a rocky parking lot
    Functionality Rating
    FUNCTIONALITY

    (LifeProof Fre)
    iPhone FunctionalityiPhone Functionality (4/5):
    - Cutouts for the lightning port and headphone jack will fit only Apple-sized accessories
    - Sound is slightly muted
    - Small hack that allowed you to attach a wrist-strap has been removed
    - Touch ID membrane works well as long as the sensor is clear of fingerprints before installation
    - Cutout for the flash is large enough for the True-Tone flash (it wasn't on the first few versions of the iPhone 5S Fre)
    Screen UsabilityScreen Usability (4.5/5):
    - A small gap between the screen protector and touchscreen
    - Sensitivity isn’t reduced
    - Easy to access swipe menus on the iPhone
    Screen ViewabilityScreen Viewability (5/5):
    - Wobbly reflections due to the fact that the screen protector doesn’t sit flush on the iPhone screen (Better than the screen on the 5/5S versions)
    - Glare is pretty bad
    - Screen protector diffuses the iPhone’s Retina HD screen
    - Minor rain-bowing effects
    Bottom Buy Buttons

     

    Design – It is surprisingly thin for a tough iPhone case

    LifeProof Fre Review for the iPhone 6 - Back Scratches EasilyIn terms of design, the LifeProof Fre is one of the thinnest and lightest cases we’ve reviewed. It’s really blown our mind how slim the case is especially when you compare it to tough cases like the Otterbox Defender and Griffin Survivor All-terrain.

    The general design hasn’t really changed between the Lifeproof fre for the iPhone 5/5S and 6. The back of the case looks pretty similar and the front hasn’t really changed either but they have removed the plastic piece around the camera. This change improves the screen viewablity slightly.

    Installation of the case is pretty simple and remains unchanged from the 5 version which requires yo to snap two pieces together. If you do get this case, we recommend that you snap from the bottom up as it’s a bit easier than the other way. The gasket that sits at the bottom of the latch cover still can be lost if you’re not careful and we’ve noticed that the green o-ring comes out much easier than the o-ring on the previous generation.

    For build quality, we’re disappointed with the Fre. The back casing shows scratches quite easily and as you saw from our drop video, a 6 ft drop resulted in a cracked case. On the flip side, LifeProof’s warranty is pretty awesome as we were able to get a replacement case. With all that being said, Fre does fit fairly well and one of the things we’ll note is that there is a little bend in the Fre when it’s empty.

    Protection – So thin and droppable? The perfect slim tough case?

    LifeProof Fre Review for the iPhone 6 - Build Quality Issues?In terms of Protection, the Fre is waterproof up to 6.6ft and droppable from 6.6 ft. We’ve dropped our Fre several times on concrete and the iPhone’s fine but the Fre did crack on a 6 ft drop. If you’re concerned about the break consider all the times when you’re actually going to be dropping your iPhone 6 from 6 ft.

    In terms of water protection, we don’t think the Fre will have any troubles filming all your underwater shenanigans. We didn’t take the Fre down to 6.6 ft but with waterproofing, it it’s not going to leak in a shallow bit of water, there’s a good chance it’ll be waterproof at 6.6 ft as the deeper you go, the greater water pressure which compresses the case together which keeps the case waterproof. (**apparently my understanding of waterproof is flawed, the comments below for how waterproofing actually works)

    In terms of dust, since it is waterproof, it is going to be dustproof if you keep all the ports sealed. The only places that dust can enter the case is around the lightning port and headphone jack cutouts so dust and debris entering the case will be kept to a minimum.

    For screen protection, the plastic screen protector does a decent job of protecting your iPhone’s touchscreen as you can see in our face-first drop tests. LifeProof does recommend that you remove all films prior to installing the Fre. Given how tightly the Fre fits around the iPhone, we wouldn’t try to use another screen protector.

    All in all, the Fre for the iPhone 6 offers the same amount of protection as the Fre for the iPhone 5/5s versions.

    Functionality – Like fine wine, this case gets better with time

    LifeProof Fre Review for the iPhone 6 - Very slim iPhone caseFunctionality is where the Fre falls flat on it’s face. In terms of accessing your iPhone inside the case, if you have a large selection of 3rd party cables and headphones, throw them out. Take them, go the nearest garbage can and throw them out because you can’t use them with the Fre.

    Apple-branded accessories will work but nothing else. The cutout for the lightning port will not fit your Amazon basics cables and the headphone cutout will not fit headphone jacks that are slightly larger than Apple’s Earpods. There is a caveat for the headphones as LifeProof does include its signature threaded waterproof headphone jack extension so that fits with any type of headphones.

    Also, you can’t attach a wrisstrap to the Fre. On the Previous versions you could attach a wriststrap via where the headphone jack plug attached to the case but they’ve removed that feature on the 6 version of the Fre.

    Using your iPhone 6 in one-hand isn’t great as the Fre’s back isn’t very rubbery so it doesn’t sit on the palm of your hand too well.

    The buttons on the case are pretty tough but I do believe will get easier over time and the Touch ID membrane does work but you will notice it may take a bit longer for your fingerprint to register. One of the things that LifeProof doesn’t mention is to pay special attention to the Touch ID area when you’re installing the case as leaving a fingerprint on the home button and then placing a membrane on top of the sensor will degrade the performance of the Touch ID. This is from my personal experience.

    The LifeProof Fre isn’t great with sound. Unlike the 5/5S versions of the case, sound coming from the Fre isn’t louder. In fact it’s a little muted which is weird since there is still some sort of acoustic chamber on the back of the case but out of the 4 tests I did for sound coming out of the bottom speaker, the Fre was slightly muted. We will note that the Fre does cover most of the mics with the mic at the bottom of the iPhone being the only one that has one of those thin acoustic membranes.

    In terms of the loudness coming from the ear piece speaker, it is a bit muted. On our tests, the iPhone in the Fre averaged a difference of 5-10 db’s lower than the iPhone without the Fre. This isn’t much but it still will mute it.

    Now, the odd thing about the sound and this has to do more with the iPhone I think then the Fre was that recording a message through the Fre and without the Fre resulted in the loudness being the same which is nice.

    LifeProof Fre Review for the iPhone 6 - Screen DiffusionIn terms of accessing your iPhone’s touchscreen, there is still a gap and it is noticeable but does not degrade the sensitivity of the iPhone too much (or that we noticed). Getting to the rest of the screen is quite easy as there is nothing that gets in the way.

    On to the screen viewablity of the case, there are issues galore. In fact, most of the issues with the Fre for the 5 and 5S exist on the 6. Since the screen doesn’t sit flush on the iPhone’s touchscreen, you’re going to get double reflections. The glare on the screen protector is generally noticeable and the screen protector still diffuses your iPhone’s touchscreen.

    Have questions about our LifeProof Fre Review for the iPhone 6? Please ask them on our Google+ page or on our Facebook page.

    28 Comments

    28 Comments

    1. Trenton

      December 13, 2014 at 12:02 am

      You have the wrong video posted here. 🙂

      • Aaron Ho

        December 13, 2014 at 3:36 pm

        LOL. Reviewer fail!

        Thanks for pointing that out!

    2. Quest Henkart

      December 17, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      There is a very important error in this review that could cause people to destroy their phones:

      “In terms of water protection, we don’t think the Fre will have any troubles filming all your underwater shenanigans. We didn’t take the Fre down to 6.6 ft but with waterproofing, it it’s not going to leak in a shallow bit of water, there’s a good chance it’ll be waterproof at 6.6 ft as the deeper you go, the greater water pressure which compresses the case together which keeps the case waterproof.”

      It’s a reasonable assumption, but that’s not how pressure works. The pressure difference *doubles* between the surface and 10 meters, that means with every foot you go underwater, pressure increases at a higher rate than at any other depth. While you were smart to imagine water pressure “compressing things together”, a more correct analogy is that it -Squeezes EVERYTHING- We are not talking the case becoming super tight and solid, but instead the case imploding, the protector screen fracturing, or the case cracking. The air trapped inside the case is going to squeeze (boyle’s law), the lack of air inside the case is going to cause a vacuum, putting even more pressure on the case and pushing all of the components to implode or fissure.

      That is why good scuba camera cases are made with very very solid metal and equipment, it’s why they weigh a ton, and it’s why they cost thousands of dollars

      For the sake of consumers reading this review, please correct that paragraph

      –TLDR:: Do not take your phone deeper than the specified limitations and always test it without a phone first! The warranty does not cover a water-damaged phone. If you are going to take the risk and go swimming with your phone, do yourself a favor and properly inspect all of the o-rings for cracks or damage and keep them well lubricated with silicon-based lubricant.

      *Scuba Instructor for 4 years

      • Quest Henkart

        December 17, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        The article was otherwise very informative and helpful! Thank you

      • Aaron Ho

        December 19, 2014 at 4:58 pm

        Thanks for the clarification. I had a 33ft waterproof case fail on me and the case manufacturer told me what I just wrote.

        So let me pick your brain, is there any way I can test the 6.6 ft depth without actually taking it to 6.6 ft?

        • Quest Henkart

          December 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm

          Hey Aaron,

          I’m shocked that the manufacturer said that, but that just shows the disparity of knowledge between the engineering team and customer service. If that was the case, waterproof cases would have minimum depth ratings instead of maximum depth ratings.

          The truth is, as Lifeproof says on their website, they water test every single case to make sure it works within their guaranteed specifications. They likely test each case for waterproofing by pressure testing it. They use an expensive machine that simulates a pressured environment with high accuracy. This process is also how they would have come up with the 6.6ft guarantee (they most likely test each unit even deeper).

          A cheaper, albeit less accurate, way to test for waterproofing is to use a pool and put some tissue inside of the case.

          I’m fairly confident that 99+% of their cases work to the specifications out of the box. The problem begins to arise with wear and tear: one drop could create a small, unnoticeable decrease in the integrity of the case which could cause a leak or an o-ring might not be set properly(due to dirt, lack of lubrication, or cracking).

          I know with the iphone 5 model of the lifeproof case that I had, in the instructions they always recommended to water test the case without the phone every time it was dropped and preferably before putting the phone under water.

          My recommendation for the everyday user, before taking the phone out to a potentially wet environment, just fill a bucket of water (or even a sink or bathtub) and place the case with some tissue in the bucket for a half hour (put something on top of it to keep it from floating). Check for moisture on the tissue. That should effectively test its ability to keep water out on the surface. Personally, I would never go dunking underwater with a case that is as flimsy (from a scuba divers perspective) as a lifeproof case, it’s just not worth the $900 phone replacement, but it is perfect for the beach, a short surface swim, or rain. (< just my opinion)

          • Quest Henkart

            December 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm

            Correction: Put the tissue *in the case* that goes in the bucket to check for moisture

            • Hugo Mendoza

              August 10, 2015 at 8:36 pm

              Although I found the comment pretty informative, I just wanted to get some confirmation on the limits of the waterproof aspect of the case. Is it possible to take it in the ocean and take pictures underwater as long as I’m less than 6.6ft deep? I’m traveling to the carribean in a few weeks and I wanted to know if this case could withstand being at the beach and going into the water without damaging my iphone 6.

            • Aaron Ho

              August 11, 2015 at 2:21 am

              Yes. Make sure you do the waterproofing test first to make sure the case is waterproof.

    3. Ryan

      December 26, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      Could you review the blue model for the fre to see if they improved. And could you test the nuuud

      • Aaron Ho

        December 28, 2014 at 4:41 pm

        I don’t think the Fre generally changes from color to color. Once the Nuud comes out, I’ll review it.

        • RYAN

          January 6, 2015 at 1:13 am

          im planing to get the lifeproof case for my iPhone 6 and i do not understand what you mean when you said the screen diffuses

          • Stephen

            February 4, 2015 at 4:15 am

            Hey Ryan, I have had this case for about a month now and by diffuse, it was sort of touched on in the video but basically the screen protector takes your flash retina display and makes it look a bit ordinary. The screen protector is a semi flexible type of plastic and isn’t really crystal clear like say a tempered glass protector is. You are looking at the screen through a sheet of plastic and it just looks dull. You get used to it but if you ever take the case off the difference is stark.
            I have been somewhat unimpressed with this case for the price. I don’t doubt the protection if offers but the diffusing of the screen and the rainbow effects on the screen that will almost certainly be more pronounced that what was shown in the video review have left me feeling somewhat disconnected from my 6. When Aaron says the case sucks the fun out of the iPhone he really hit the nail on the head. It’s a shame I have just come across his site.
            If you really need waterproof protection then there are trade offs to be made and they are probably acceptable on the Fre but if you just want good protection then a decent case like the Thule Atmos and a decent screen protector are probably a better bet and probably available at half the price of the Fre.

            • Ryan

              February 15, 2015 at 12:03 am

              Thanks Stephen, I would like a slim waterproof case and I’m stuck between the catalyst and lifeproof Nuud. I’m relying on iPhone 5s reviews because there aren’t many for the 6. does anyone have the catalyst for the iPhone 6 and what are their impressions?

    4. Javi

      April 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Can you install a wrist strap on the iPhone 6 lifeproof fre case like the case for the iPhone 5/5s

    5. Carlos

      May 22, 2015 at 1:37 am

      I don’t know if is already asked but i just bought the frē case and I have problems with the ring/silent switch is that normal?

    6. Nicolas

      September 12, 2015 at 3:50 am

      Hey guys I was just wondering if with the fre you could have a plastic screen protector underneath the the case screen protector? I have got told that they work miracles and I just don’t want to put my new iPhone in their naked without one. Thanks.

      • Aaron Ho

        September 12, 2015 at 8:04 pm

        You could try. I wouldn’t since the case fits tightly together…in terms of protection, I dropped the Fre in the video onto rocks and the screen is fine.

    7. Steve

      September 19, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      I have a fre on my iPhone 6, my big problem is the people I’m talking to on the phone saying they can barely hear me. I have to take the phone out of the case to make a call. Any suggestions?

      • Aaron Ho

        September 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm

        No. The “sounds like you’re in a box” problem occurs for all cases. I know LifeProof suggests blowing on membranes to make sure they don’t stick…the only sure thing around the issue is to use headphones.

    8. Senthil

      April 9, 2016 at 5:02 am

      Hey Aaron,

      Just wanted to check if the FRE would work on a iphone 6s model?
      have they made anything new/upgraded their FRE version for 6s? With respect to sound, the muting problem etc.?

      • Aaron Ho

        April 10, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        No, the 6s would not fit in the iPhone 6 version of the Fre. I am not sure if they’ve improved it (I doubt it) as the same problems with sound exists across all waterproof cases.

    9. Tash

      May 16, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Dear Lifeproof,
      I just got back from Dominican Republic from a Mothers Day trip with my mom and grandmother. My grand mother had been asking for this trip for quite some time and my mother and I were finally in a position to provide it to her. I purchased a life proof case for my iPhone to help me catch all the best memories, after all we would be going to the beach. I read the directions and followed them, I tested the case before I put it on and checked all the ports each time I got into any water. While in the ocean I noticed water had seeped into my case, I immediately get out and dried my phone but it was too late just like that my entire week was erased I ran across the resort in tears to get to the kitchen for uncooked rice… I was in disbelief… it was too late… I put my phone in the rice anyway for over 24 hours before trying to turn it back on, but it was too late. This is the worse type of manufacturers defect imaginable. How dare you offer me another one of your products and risk potentially losing every single moment I wanted to hold and capture through my own eyes. You should be ashamed of yourselves, for betting on the once in a lifetime memories of hard working people, for a measly 80 bucks. I had faith in this product and it failed me BIG TIME. I swam with sharks… I found Nemo and Dory… I had a full blown mermaid moment… my mother was holding stingrays… My grandmother got into to water for the first time I could remember… And it’s all gone….. No warranty exchange or insurance claim can bring any of this back….

      M̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶’s̶ D̶a̶y̶ w̶i̶t̶h̶ G̶r̶a̶n̶d̶m̶a̶ a̶n̶d̶ M̶o̶m̶m̶y̶ i̶n̶ D̶o̶m̶i̶n̶i̶c̶a̶n̶ R̶e̶p̶u̶b̶l̶i̶c̶

      Tashmere Simmonds

      • Aaron Ho

        May 16, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        I’m not LifeProof Customer service. You should contact them directly.

    10. Karl

      May 23, 2016 at 4:02 am

      Everyone raves about these Fre cases and with good reason. Reviewers are always testing a new case and it’s true that this is a superb case until you’ve owned it a while. After a few months, the rubber on your mute switch will split and the case will no longer be waterproof. This has now happened to both of the Fre cases I have owned, and for this reason I have switched to Pelican Marine which hopefully will perform better. A quick Google will show you that many users have this issue, so it’s not just me. This design flaw is a serious deal breaker for those who need a case that is not just rugged, but waterproof. Hopefully its something that Lifeproof can fix.

    11. Shivam

      July 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Does wearing off of the thin rubber covering on screenprotection above the charging port disrupts the waterproofing of the case

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