THUD! You've dropped your iPhone, your heart's racing as you uncover the possible damage and, to be honest, this response is quite rational. But what if there were individuals swanning about dropping their iPhones and reacting as if they’d dropped something as solid as a rock with no concerned worry about damage. Well, as a matter of fact, this is exactly how LifeProof want people to feel when using the $99.99/£89.99 Nüüd case with the iPhone 6 Plus. Built to withstand water, dirt, snow and shock, we’ve been rocking the case as our daily driver with a little intensive stress testing for good measure.
Design & Usability
What’s nice about this LifeProof case is that by design it doesn't visibly cover up much of the phone. A translucent back keeps that Apple logo on show and the actual screen isn't covered by anything; yes, we were shocked too! LifeProof are so confident with their case designs that they’ve simply created a seal surrounding the perimeters of the screen, with the intention of preventing water from leaking in. We get further into this screenless tech later on.
The Nüüd’s curved edges and rubberised lips create a generally comfortable case to hold and interact with, especially against the face when making calls. To put how thin the case is into perspective, the iPhone 6 Plus measures 7.1mm thick and this case is 12.2mm - this small increase for so much boastful durability is really quite respectful we thought. Also worth mentioning is that if you’re currently pocketing your iPhone 6 Plus, then this added thickness shouldn't interfere.
Nothing beats touching the bare iPhone screen and this is clearly what LifeProof think too, with their clever screenless design. It removes the stigma that over protective cases like this have long held. Instead it looks and feel like an ordinary case. So all our multi-touch gestures are always recognised and clarity is not compromised! However, our usage wasn't without concern, as we recognised this was a case with a tight grip on our iPhone and were worried that the mute switch, volume controls and sleep/wake button could potentially stick with frequent usage. Thankfully they didn't, and using the iPhone 6 Plus was unhindered by any flaws due to its size.
Furthermore, the speakers are surprisingly clear; both the bottom and top one, the latter being dedicated to phone calls, of course. However, the sound is compromised by a slight distortion with higher volume levels and clarity is very mildly impaired. But this is nothing to write home about, and when compared to previous similar cases it’s an impressive feat!
A highlight feature is the ability to use Touch ID without any compromise - it’s just covered by translucent plastic, along with the rear camera, front camera and proximity sensor. Photo & video quality seemed unaffected. Our least favourite functionality design incorporated is the headphone adapter which is necessary to use for larger or right angled cables. We get the reason for this to a certain extent, even though it’s too easy to misplace. The main complaint comes from a little screw covering the port in the case which is fiddly and feels unnecessarily time-consuming to undo. Neighbour to this is a plastic hinged flap for Lightning cables; for accessories like docks it was mostly agreeably user friendly.
Apart from accumulating some mild scratches on the case, it remains a mostly tidy specimen from being used as an ordinary daily run-around. According to LifeProof the polycarbonate and silicone casing scored a rating of IP-68 (the highest rating for the ingress of solids and liquids) and gained the U.S. Military Standard for drop and shock protection. So we started our testing by throwing the case into a pool of water two metres deep - and initially submerging the iPhone’s screen directly into water just felt wrong. However, after one hour, as this is claimed to be a maximum of how long the case can safely cope with the pressure, not a drip of water entered.
For further durability assurance we climbed onto a roof and threw the case from four metres (double the 2 metres LifeProof tout) onto hard land covered in grass. Pleasingly the case didn't even pick up a bit of scuffing from the grass! Admittedly it was a different story on concrete from the same height, where the phone was fine but the case did obtain a dent in a silicone corner edge. These tests were all conducted in controlled environments where the screen had little chance of directly hitting anything. The screen is recessed, which is a very good thing, as it would never touch the flat surfaces in our tests. Conversely, if your phone was to slip out of your pocket whilst cycling on a dirt path one afternoon, objects like grit and stones could play out a different scenario. A screen protector is included for increased assurance when necessary though.
Is your iPhone 6 Plus now essentially a cockroach because it has a LifeProof Nüüd equipped? No. Whilst this is a thin outfit that we would certainly happily dress our iPhone in for resilient security if heading near water or riding a bike on dry dirt trails, that bare screen is both a winner and a loser, jeopardising protection for ease of use. It's a catch-22 that we absolutely approve of, as it makes the iPhone screen more fluid and natural to use, but some purists who want 100% protection will have to look elsewhere.