Before I start, let me be perfectly clear. There is no such thing as a foolproof waterproof phone case. Operator error makes that impossible. Natural degradation of materials – in particular rubber seals and gaskets – makes that impossible. That’s not necessarily the fault of manufacturers. We need to have realistic expectations.
Definitely strong, but mind the latch
For the last two years, I have been using the Optrix case when I paddle, and with great results. The Optrix case’s construction is its most striking characteristic: heavy duty, single body poly-carbonate plastic. It is THICK, not flismy looking like the other phone cases out there. It opens with a latch at the top, which means you can not only get your phone in and out with ease as frequently as you like, without risk of ruining the case, but you can keep an eye on the condition of the seal gasket and watch for wear and tear. You can’t really do that with the clamshell style cases out there, like Lifeproof. Optrix claims the case will withstand a 30 foot drop and once you hold this case, you’ll believe it. I have dropped my multiple times and you can’t even tell.
A similar latch door covers the power and headphone plug ports at the other end of the phone. It can take significant pressure to securely close both of the case’s latches and they bear checking and re-checking before you get on the water. The one time I flooded my case and hence ruined my phone was precisely because I hadn’t checked to make sure the latch was completely engaged and closed. In certain circumstances, it might be easy for the main latch closure to catch on something and pop open, leaving your phone vulnerable- for instance, taking it out of a tight pocket on a hydration vest. But if you have a larger phone, like the iPhone 6 or 6s, chances are it isn’t going to fit in the hydration vest pocket anyway.
The other unique and eye-catching feature of the Optrix case is the interchangeable lens system, including wide angle, fisheye, telephoto and macro attachments. The lenses, which also have a silicone ring seal on them, screw into the back of the case, over the camera port. I was skeptical about the photo quality that this arrangement would produce but I have be extremely surprised and pleased. The lenses take great, clear pictures that really enhance the photo capabilities of the iPhone.
Form follows function
Both of the these great features, the thick, rugged case and the camera lens, make carrying your phone in you pocket problematic. The trade off for the impact and water proof design and the external camera lens is streamlining. This may not be the case for everyday use, if you like to carry your phone in your pocket or if you like fine, minimal design. Besides being a bit bulky, the case, precisely because of the reasons you’d buy it (protection) is heavy. But, because of that latch, it is easy to remove the phone from the case if you need to. It comes with a plastic “sled” that helps keep it tight inside the case, and that sled will provide some protection for the phone if you do need to slip it out of the case.
Functionally, there is a soft but durable plastic membrane that covers the front of the phone so you can use the touchscreen. Like other cases, some of the function along the edges of the screen might be a bit difficult to access, but not to the point of frustration. One of the downsides of this case is that the thumbprint function of the iPhone is unusable, however.
Sound quality inside the case is no worse than other cases, and in some, is much, much better, especially if you open the port door at the bottom of the phone. One frequent caller of mine complains about not being able to hear me, but in that instance, I can easily slip the phone out of the case and the problem, most of the time, is solved.
The case comes with a lanyard and accessories include a GoPro compatible mount. In calmer water, I have taken to using that mount so that I can see my interval timer app during workouts. I make sure a floaty is attached to that lanyard and that the lanyard is also secured to the GoPro safety mount, just like I would with my action camera and my SpeedCoach.
The Optrix case is pricey – the pro kit with all the lenses is $130 on Amazon. But if you keep in mind you are getting extremely rugged protection for you phone that is easier to maintain than other cases PLUS a lens system, then it is a little easier to swallow.
For functionality, this case really can’t be beat. If I don’t need my interval timer app, I still will put the phone in a dry bag, just as precaution, but to date, this case seems to be the most trustworthy of all the so-called waterproof cases out there, as long as I recognize and its accept its limitations and potential weaknesses.
Optrix By Body Glove Phone Case
Pros: strong, easy to remove phone from case, great camera lenses, easy to maintain, GoPro compatible mount available
Cons: Price, bulky, closure latch needs care with use, sound quality (sometimes), only for iPhones