The Apple iPhone 6 dropped on September 19, 2014. Within 24 hours, there were already more than 4 million pre-orders (an Apple record, according to good ol' Wikipedia).
I was not among them.
Nor was I among the 10 million people who were signed up within the first three days. Let's be honest - giving me a smartphone without a waterproof case is just tossing money down the drain.
On the night of November 19, those that had signed up on a mailing list for LifeProof received a message letting them know that they could order a iPhone 6 Fre case. Boom. I was on it.
I waited until I received the case in the mail before I even went to a store to purchase the phone. My iPhone 4 lived a mint-condition life for 2 years while nestled safely in the embrace of LifeProof cases. I would like my 6 to live the same way.
Enough with the romance, on to the review.
After a month of having my phone encased in the new Fre, I feel confident in saying that the iPhone 6 case is a definite upgrade from the case I had on my iPhone 4. The plastic of the case feels more rugged than the case for the 4, with a pleasing texture to it.
The rubber lining the outside lip of the front of the case feels totally different, suggesting a re-vamp in the rubber/polymer recipe.The iPhone 4 LifeProof case suffered from rubber peeling issues, but I suspect that the iPhone 6 Fre will be much more durable. The merger with Otter Box may have done us consumers some good on that front at least. One interesting thing I noticed about the improved design was the addition of a plastic tab integrated into the frame to lend support to the rubber bumpers that protect the volume buttons. On my iPhone 4 case, these bumpers wore down over time, and the volume buttons were soon to follow.
So, on to the new stuff!
In LifeProof cases past, the only way for a user to plug headphones into the iPhone was to screw in the auxiliary adapter like a little whip antennae prosthesis, and then plug headphones or other attachments into the adapter. The little plug that sealed the headphone jack when not in use was easy to lose, rendering an otherwise waterproof phone... not.
No more! In a two-pronged attack on the problem, LifeProof has made the gasket plug an integrated part of the case, attached via an umbilical of stout plastic ribbon. Not only can you no longer easily lose the plug, the port itself now accepts most headphone connectors without having to use the adapter cable. For those of you who have only recently hopped on the LifeProof bandwagon with an iPhone 6 case, let me tell you, this advancement is true luxury. You simply unscrew the gasket plug and pop your headphones into the jack, no problem.
Round that out with a sturdy hinge for the charger port latch, improved acoustics from the speaker ports and even fingerprint reader compatibility... this is what a phone case is supposed to be like.
Issues with the case -
Really the only doubts that I have right now about the case's performance are based around two major differences between the previous models and the iPhone 6 case.
The first is a doubt about the Apple Logo port on the back. Yes, we know, it's an iPhone - is there really a need to give us a window to it? Seems like a weak spot to me.
The second doubt is about the fingerprint reader compatible home button cover. I use the home button a whole lot, and frankly, I am not sure that the thin plastic film covering it will be able to stand up to use over time. Only one way to find out! I'll report back and update this page with my observations as the case ages.
Edit* 11/7/2015 update - It's been roughly a year since my iPhone 6 was placed in it's nice, safe, Lifeproof bubble.
I must say that I've been impressed overall with the performance of this case. I would say that it's at least twice as durable as the iPhone 4 case that I had previously. I can see that the rubber trim is slowly, slowly eroding away from normal wear, but that's a huge improvement from past models. The thin plastic of the fingerprint reader has stood the test of time, as has the apple logo window on the back of the case. Overall, I am very happy with this case and the peace of mind that I get to enjoy. Click here to buy the iPhone 6 Lifeproof Fre case.