LifeProof Fre and Next for Apple iPhone X: Useful when your phone must be part of your outdoor adventure

Apple's new iPhone X has a high level of dust and water resistance, but it is still made of glass panels and the Apple warranty doesn't even cover water damage. LifeProof has three case options to enhance your level of protection.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

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When I head out to the rivers for fly fishing, hit the road for cycling, or go running in the rain, I grab a water resistant phone. However, there is still the chance the phone may drop, so I need more protection and that is where LifeProof has the answer.

A couple of months ago, ZDNet's Jason Perlow introduced readers to the different LifeProof models, and for the past couple of weeks, I have been using the LifeProof Next and LifeProof Fre with my Apple iPhone X.

LifeProof Next

The new LifeProof Next is the mid-level model of the LifeProof brand with the LifeProof Slam focused just on drop protection. The Next is designed to be dropproof, dirtproof, and snowproof.

The case consists of two pieces that snap tightly together to seal in your iPhone X. The back is composed of a rigid clear plastic that extends up to the four sides to hold your iPhone in place without any ability to shift.

The front piece has clear plastic and colored softer material that fits over the top of your iPhone X. After placing your iPhone X into the back piece, this top part snaps in place. Make sure to go all around every edge as you will hear a lot of clicking as the front locks in place. The colored material is available in black, gray, mint, and pink. I tested out the mint, aka Seaside, color.

There is a small toggle for the ringer switch and before you head out make sure that is positioned correctly. While I was taking the two pieces apart, it isn't easy, I misaligned this toggle so my ringer switch didn't work at first. I took my iPhone out and readjusted it to work and now it is perfect.

There are raised buttons for the volume and right side button with a door covering the Lightning port. These cases are better now that there is no headphone jack to accommodate.

There is no cover on the front of this case, so if you want to protect the display, then you should consider the Fre case or pick up a tempered glass screen protector. The iPhone X does have an IP67 dust and water resistant rating so you could drop your iPhone X in this case in the water, but I would try to avoid that if possible.

The LifeProof Next case is quite slim for a protective case, and you no longer have to double the thickness of your phone to get a solid level of protection. It is available now for $79.99.

LifeProof Fre and Next for Apple iPhone X: in pictures

LifeProof Fre

For just $10 more, $89.99, you can pick up the LifeProof Fre that adds an integrated front-screen protector and more seals for waterproof protection of up to two meters for an hour. If you take your iPhone on vacation to the beach or the pool, hit the snowy mountains during the winter, spend half of your outdoor life in the rain like I do, or want full protection for your iPhone, then you should definitely consider the Fre.

The LifeProof Fre comes in six available color schemes: Night Lite (all black with lime green highlights), Drop In (mint, gray, and lime green), Wipeout (couple shades of mint and pink highlights), Chakra (purples and pink), Banzai (blues and lime green), and Fire Run (reds and gray highlights). I tested out the Banzai one, which is a close match to my Seattle Seahawks colors.

The additional interior O-ring, seals, and front plastic cover bump the dust and water resistance to IP68 with MIL-STD 810G drop protection. To use this case you first, place your iPhone X into the front piece that is built up around the four edges with a hard plastic frame and soft rubber front. The material on the front helps you grip the iPhone X and keeps it from sliding around on a table.

The back piece is quite thin and houses the O-ring, embedded in a channel around the entire frame of the case, and seal around the camera and back. Snap this onto the back of your iPhone X and then snap the bottom Lightning port closure door to hold everything together.

In the past, these cases with integrated plastic screen protectors always seemed to compromise the touch experience at some level. I have not experienced any issues with Face Unlock, ability to perform things with touch, or even see much difference in clarity. LifeProof did a fantastic job with this design.

There is a vanity clear window on the back for the Apple logo, which is a nice touch. There is no headset jack on the iPhone X so there is no adapter in the box either. The Lightning port opening is large enough for virtually all Lightning cables, too.

Wireless charging and Apple Pay work perfectly fine with your iPhone X in this case. I haven't seen any impact on camera performance either.

It's fantastic to see LifeProof create such a high level of protection in a case without making the case bulky. One reason I love using the Apple iPhone X is the small size of the phone. With the LifeProof Fre installed, it is larger but still very pocketable, and I feel much better taking my iPhone out into the elements.

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