Testing iPad cases & mounts: Lifeproof, Lifedge, Life Jacket, RAM & Tallon

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

21 Responses

  1. C Dan says:

    I LOVE my LifeProof nuud case for the full-sized iPad… so much so that I am contemplating upgrading to the nuud for my iPhone 5 even though I already have the fre.
    Thanks for talking about mounting systems… I think you also had one for your devices that was 4 rubberized prong that gripped the device… am I mistaken?

  2. I recently upgraded to an iPhone 5, and got a LifeProof case for it (the kind with the clear plastic window over the display).
    Waterproof for sure, the only problem I’ve had reported is that my voice is distorted when talking. This problem seems worse when it’s windy. But others say my voice is fine, so it isn’t a killer (and I use a Bluetooth headset for really important calls).
    Assembly was easy, and the little click-open door for charging is doing fine after a couple months. If/when I get an iPad, it’ll have one of these right away!

  3. ValkyrieYachts says:

    Hi Ben,
    The search for good cases that protect, yet remain useable is endless. One caution on the LifeProof cases. They are well made, but if you look at the warranty, you are obligated to pressure test the case before loading it. It also says you must retest it anytime the unit has been handled roughly (my words, no the warranty). Which means, for some of us, in order to make the warranty valid, each day we may have to pressure test the case!
    In addition, if there is a leak, the warranty only replaces the case…No the electronic!
    How do I know this?? My IPhone flooded in 3 feet of water (a swimming pool). Lifeproof’s response was swift and immediate…I MUST HAVE DONE SOEMTHING WRONG AS THEIR CASES ARE EACH TESTED! They also quickly point out the testing requirements and that even if it did leak because of their fault, they would replace the case.
    Too bad they have such bad customer service as the cases are trim and nice.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, ValkyrieY. I meant to mention that as I remember your past comments. But I wonder if any waterproof case manufacturer will replace a damaged phone or pad? It would be a heck of liability and we users can screw things up in so many ways (not to say you did).
    C Dan, I’ve never tested a RAM X-grip, but they look interesting:
    They look like they might hold a cased iPad and if they are adjustable enough you might not find that your cradle presses the volume button on your phone as some do on my semi-nude Galaxy Nexus.

  5. David D says:

    Hi Ben
    I have been using an Ipad in the open cockpit of a sailboat for four years. I admit that these cases offer great protection. But what about functionality.
    Ben since you have access to all of these brands of cases can you perform a simple test with them,for those of us who are in open cockpits?
    Ben can you take a shower with them? Simulate a good downpour. Can you tell us if any of them allow the capacitive touch screen of the Ipad to function?
    David D

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    David, your timing is impeccable. It’s wicked hot and sticky here in Maine (what climate change?) and I was just about to shower when I read your comment. So I took the iPad mini with LifeProof case with me (but let’s keep that between us, please).
    Interesting! When squarely catching full shower volume (from water conserving head, to be sure), the water sometimes initiated touch commands in Nobeltec TZ and Garmin BCM, though I could still sometimes touch tap my own commands. The iPad worked better when I turned the shower down to a gentle but heavy rain and/or if I tilted it more to the horizontal.
    Some other cases may be less sensitive to rain because the screen shields are further away and touch commands have to be more aggressive, but even with the LifeProof I wouldn’t call it impossible. I could have done my nav commands in the lee of a foul weather jacket, I think (had I been wearing one).
    What I don’t get, though, is how do you deal with the iPad screen in bright sunlight? Have you considered a bimini to deal with both issues? Or an MFD?
    PS I haven’t taken it apart but the LifeProof is mostly dry on the outside now and the iPad is still working fine.

  7. Rick R says:

    I have used a RAM mount for three years. Two comments:
    The iPad is in our pilothouse, so waterproofing is not an issue for us. Sometimes on a warm day in bright sun, the iPad will overheat. A cool breeze, or a wet cloth draped over the back of the iPad cools thing off, but I wonder if these waterproof cases will exacerbate the situation.
    I have used the iPad in the dingy in moderate rain, and a zip-lock sandwich bag kept everything nice and dry. The touch screen, GPS, and all the buttons still worked OK.

  8. Bob Mueller says:

    I have the lifeproof nuud case for ipad2. I think it’s great! It does not add much bulk to the ipad at all. I also purchased the lifeproof mount, to which I installed a RAM ball to the back side. It’s very simple to move from the helm RAM to a RAM in my bunk.
    I don’t have any problems seeing the screen under my Bimini top, and with my polarized sunglasses as long as the ipad is kept horizontal. At vertical, my sunglasses make the screen completely black. At ipad horizontal, I think my polarized sunglasses actually make the screen brighter then with the naked eye. Not sure how that’s possible, but that’s what it feels like.
    Lifeproof was a really great company, with a great warranty. After otter box acquired them, their customer service and warranty took a big nosedive. It’s still nice stuff though.

  9. Don Senecal says:

    I have an iPad3 in the Lifeproof nuud case.
    I cannot say enough good things about it. The texture is far superior to the iPads slick surface. When I place it down on a non-skid surface it stays there. It makes my iPad a bit larger, fitting in my hands better. I also purchased the LifeJacket float (for rough water use on deck) it fits over the nuud and will float the iPad if dropped overboard. (added drop protection as well). My original “float” was a bit loose. I contacted Lifeproof and the sent me a new one with return packing slip for the loose one. The new unit fit perfectly. They also offer a “Total Water Protection Program” ($75 for one year) covers the iPad and a new case. Here’s the info on that:
    LifeProof Commitment
    If, within one-year of purchasing your LifeProof case and registering with the Total Water Protection Program, your eligible device suffers water damage while in the case, LifeProof will repair or replace it.* The program is limited to a one-time use, and requires the case be used in accordance with all provided instructions. A simple request process and a nominal service fee ($50 for iPhone, $75 for iPad) is all it takes. And, we’ll send you a new case, too.
    And the link: http://www.lifeproof.com/en/total-water-protection-program
    I have been very happy with this product so far.

  10. Gretchen says:

    I LOVE the vision of you showering with your iPad…. Not every electronics wizard would go there, or admit it!

  11. David D says:

    Hi Ben
    Re : Ipad in cockpit.
    Ben, I do have a bimini but it doesn’t necessarily solve the problems.As a matter of fact I sent you some photos last year which showed my two pad locations using a SeaSucker mount. One location is on the pedestal guard and the other is on the bimini frame tucked up right under the cloth. In either location wind and driving rain or spray can wet the screen and of course in those conditions your hands are also wet.
    The biggest problem I had in sunlight was reflections. I cured that with a matte screen protector. Also the brightness has to be set to high. That really drains the battery which means you need a waterproof power supply. I’ve tried putting the pad to sleep for short periods when on a long trip but then you loose other functions like AIS.I back up with Garmin plotter,computer,& charts.

  12. LifeJacket Case says:

    Ben, thank you so much for taking the time out to perform this review! I would like to formally introduce myself as the designer, inventor and owner of Global Navigation Authority. We produce the LifeJacket Case and are very excited about the endless opportunities that surround tablets in the marine environment. Our case was designed by a long time boater (myself), for boaters specifically. We will launch our waterproof USB port to enable charging in early August. We will also launch a flat mount bracket with the AMPS holes pre drilled for multiple mounting options shortly thereafter. Currently our bracket has pre drilled holes in the bottom to connect perfectly to Ram mount 111U. We welcome any ideas or suggestions as our company will continue to grow in the marine tablet protection direction.
    Thank you once again,
    James Klement
    Global Navigation Authority

  13. Collin says:

    “LifeProof offers cases in both frē and nüüd styles. I have no opinion about which is best, but maybe someone out there does.”
    I’ve used a Lifeproof frē on both my iPhone 4 and 5 and have been generally happy with them. Lifeproof proved its salt after protecting my phone from an overnight dip in a class III rapid in northern Idaho. Perhaps the even bigger miracle was that it was found the next day!
    I can tell from first hand experience that the plastic film over the screen on the frē decreases the sensetivity of the touch screen measurably, as it doesn’t lie perfectly flat on the glass. Recently I’ve had problems with the “end” button being completely unresponsive when I try to terminate a call. That can be a real annoyance. A quick search of the internet finds many other people having the same issue. Might be one of the reasons Lifeproof recently introduced the nüüd for the iPhone. Knowing what I know now, given the choice, I’d now go for the nüüd.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The Tallon Ram Lifeproof combination is working well on my boat.
    I also have a Lifedge iPad 2/3/4 case and it is difficult to install over the iPad (even with lubrication)- I no longer use this case.
    I use the Ram X Grip and think this a great device, it holds a bare iPad, the Lifedge and the Lifeproof cases, it also copes with the other non-marine cases that I use like the Gumdrop and the STM Skinny.
    Cheers Dave

  15. Collin says:

    As a followup to the above post, I wanted to let people know I contacted LifeProof about the problem I was having and they replaced the case without hesitation and at no cost. The plastic film over the screen of the replacement case seems to be a much tighter fit. I don’t know if they’ve changed the design since, but I was one of the first adopters to the frē case for the iPhone 5 when it was initially released. Time will tell if they have solved the problem…

  16. Maldwin Drummond says:

    Thank you for the talk last night, which was very informative.
    I used the lifeproof fre on my iphone 5 this summer, and encountered the same problems with the screen mentioned above. For the last ten days, I have been using the nuud, and I think it is a vast improvement. I also have the nuud ipad case for my ipad 4, but have only been using it for 24 hrs. So far,so good. Lastly, I have life jackets for both, which I like as much for their anti shock capabilities as their flotation ability. They are a bit large, but that bothers me more on the phone than the pad.

  17. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Maldwin! (I gave a talk on tablet nav apps to a wonderfully receptive audience in Camden last night.)
    And let me add that Maldwin is probably an excellent case tester as he seems to spend significant time blasting around Penobscot Bay in a large RIB in most any weather.

  18. Wing Chan says:

    Hello Mr Drummond.
    I gather that you must be the same gentleman who help build the Sir Winston Churchill. Us old schooner folk are having a reunion in Portsmouth on 19th October. Do come. The current owner of the Malcolm Miller will be there. Wing Chan. [email protected]

  19. Hello Ben, it is unfortunate that you didn’t contact us to include in your review the German made Andres industry cases. As you are aware those cases have been on the market and used on boats for years now. Their cases are designed with very harsh environments in mind since Andres’ primary markets are military and law enforcement, so everything they design and build take into consideration that the devises with get dropped, hit and receive water or chemicals.

  20. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry about that, Daniel, but in situations like this my testing is often somewhat random. All the gear discussed above was offered to me for testing, so I may have missed other waterproof iPad cases that are out there.

  21. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Gumdrop has a new iPad marine case and mount that looks very interesting:

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