There are a lot of cases on the market for iPads, but few boast the protection that Lifeproof Nuud Case offers – waterproof, dustproof, snow proof and shock proof to military specifications. Designed for the iPad 2, 3 and 4, the case is a two-part affair out of the box that requires some careful assembly. However, done according to LifeProof’s meticulous instructions, that process is not overly complex – though I will admit it does take a bit of effort and focus to securely snap the two sides of the case together while ensuring the rubber gasket remains secure.
The case itself comes in two parts. The front of the case is essentially a hollow rectangle that sits snugly over the face of your iPad, leaving the iPad screen naked and exposed – i.e. without any artificial cover and, thus, “nude.” LifeProof advises against using any third-party screen protector as that might interfere with the seal and protection of the iPad – so, in testing, I left the screen bare. The back of the case is fully sealed, with a clear back, and when snapped into the front piece, it forms a protective shield that envelops your iPad with a plastic bumper that feels remarkably secure in hand.
Once installed, the case measures 10.4 inches long by 8.2 inches wide and .8 inches thick so it certainly adds a bit of bulk to an otherwise sleek iPad. The weight of just under 8 ounces adds some heft to your portable iPad too, which certainly gave me pause as I considered how lightweight my iPad once was — and now suddenly wasn’t.
Still, I was off to sail around Fiji for several weeks, before serving as crew on a yacht making the crossing from Fiji to New Zealand. Protection against salt water, dirt and possible raindrops during stormy weather outweighed any concerns about the former sleekness of my iPad.
With the Nuud in place, I still had access to all of its ports and buttons, with a few caveats. The sleep/wake button that resides on top of my iPad is located a bit toward the back of the Nuud case because of design, which took a bit of getting used to. Still worked very well, but sometimes was hard to find in low light and times when I was trying to hold onto the boat with one hand while powering down the iPad with the other. All other buttons worked just fine.
While the headphone jack is accessible, I was forced to use the headphone extender/adapter cable that comes with the LifeProof simply because my headphone plug would no longer reach into the deeply recessed port. While I appreciate the need for ensuring the case remains watertight at all times, having to remove the port plug, then screw in the adapter cable (which I kept managing to lose inside my duffel on the yacht) whenever I wanted to use a headset was a pain.
LifeProof was quite big on touting the part of the case that covered the iPad speaker as a “Sound Enhancement System” but my experience left me wondering how bad the sound would have otherwise been without the feature since it still sounded tinny and at times echoed. Sans case, the sound emanating from my iPad had been significantly better.
The iPad’s front-facing camera remains unimpeded by the case and the rear-facing camera is covered with what LifeProof bills as “CrystalClear double anti-reflective coated glass lens,” to ensure image quality. In all cases, videos and images shot with my iPad were quite good.
Although LifeProof claims that you can fully submerge your iPad protected by a Nuud to 6.6 feet (2 meters), I never did test this, although both the case and I were suitably doused by saltwater from waves washing over the deck during the crossing with no ill effects to the iPad. During a particularly adventurous moment on the yacht, we were pitched violently to one side by a rogue wave, tossing my iPad from its presumed secure resting place above my bunk onto the floor — with no ill effects.
The cover that comes with the case is plastic, and does not feel as if it matches the quality of the case itself – in fact my first perception was the cover was little more than a cheap add-on. It does fit snugly over the front of the iPad and provides the necessary protection for the screen when toting the iPad or when storing it in a pack, duffel, piece of luggage or a briefcase during transit. The case does double as a stand, with a kickstand that holds the iPad horizontally at 25 degrees for typing or vertically at 40 degrees for reading. While the case cover held the iPad securely on airplane trays and even on the yacht’s galley table, it did not take long for the kickstand to not secure properly when stowed, flopping open every time I removed the case – not too problematic in terms of service, but an irritant nonetheless.
Despite my quibbles and the few drawbacks, I find I am now leaving my iPad stowed in the LifeProof case nearly all the time, even now that I am home and not facing too many adverse elements … other than latte spills and periodic jostling when juggling both iPad and car keys while getting into and out of my truck. It’s also a conversation starter, and I cannot count the number of times I have had cashiers and folks I encounter stop me to ask about the case I am using for my iPad.
Is the case for everyone? No, especially due to the added weight and bulk, not to mention the relatively hefty price tag – around $120, including cover. However, if you want to ensure your iPad is protected from the elements, as well as the knocks and drops that can come with accidental exposure to moisture and impacts when you are on the go, in the kitchen, or sailing the high seas, the LifeProof is as good as it gets.