Review roundup: Best waterproof iPhoneography cases


This week we check out the best iPhone cases for using underwater. And seeing as the only reason to take an iPhone underwater is to snap pictures, we’re looking specifically at the camera capabilities.

The Candidates

The Survivor+Catalyst from Griffin is the lightest and slimmest of the bunch, and also the trickiest to attach and detach. It is also the only case I broke, when the glue sealing the screen cover into the case came unstuck.

The Incipio Atlas ID is a little bulkier and heavier, but not by much. It’s also a lot tougher, with a rigid screen instead of the membrane found on the Griffin. That thicker screen also makes it hard to use the bottom of the iPhone’s touch screen, and the buttons are a little stiff.

Finally, the Optrix PhotoProX is a dedicated iPhoneography case. It uses interchangeable glass lenses for top quality, and a sled design to make it the fastest and easiest cases to get the iPhone in and out of. The downside is that its the biggest of the three, and you also need to carry those lenses.

Griffin’s Waterproof Survivor+Catalyst Is The Perfect iPhone 5 Beach Buddy [Review]

Griffin’s Waterproof Survivor+Catalyst Is The Perfect iPhone 5 Beach Buddy

Survivor+Catalyst by Griffin
Category: Cases
Works With: iPhone 5
Price: $70

The Survivor+Catalyst is an ultra-slim, form-fitting plastic case which seals the iPhone 5 inside and protects it from water at depths of up to (down to?) three meters or ten feet. It comes in two parts; the front section which is like a reverse shell-style case, covering the screen and the sides; and the rear panel which is flat and includes the two clamps that keep the pieces together.

The case is excellent. It keeps out dirt, dust and water, and protects agains shocks and vibration. It’s also cool-looking, and very slim and light. In short, if you put your iPhone inside, it will survive whatever your day throws at it. And for just $70 it really is a bargain.

Buy it $70

Incipio Atlas ID, A Great All-Round (And Underwater) iPhone Case [Review]

Incipio Atlas ID, A Great All-Round (And Underwater) iPhone Case

Atlas ID byIncipio
Category: Cases
Works With: iPhone 5/s
Price: $90

This is a good, tough, waterproof case, which falls down if you want to take photos with your iPhone. Given that a waterproof case is most likely to be used in exactly the kinds of situations where you want to take photos, this is a problem.

However, since every case I’ve tried also suffers this problem, I’m not marking the Atlas ID down too much. If you want to take photos with your iPhone underwater, get the $150 Optrix, complete with a box of lenses and a bulkier but not-much-heavier case.

If you just want something to protect your iPhone outdoors and underwater, and you want the case to be slimline yet rugged, then get this one.

Buy it $90

PhotoProX Waterproof Case With Interchangeable Lenses [Review]

PhotoProX Waterproof Case With Interchangeable Lenses

PhotoProX by Optrix
Category: Cases/photography
Works With: iPhone 5/S
Price: $150

Like I said, this is the best rugged/photo case I’ve used. It looks cool, has countless neat design touches, and is dead easy to use correctly. And when your iPhone is at stake, that’s important. As far as I know, the PhotoProX is unique in its use of quality optics in a waterproof iPhone case, and this makes the $150 price tag seem all the better in terms of value.

To sum up: I would actually buy this case if I wanted a waterproof iPhone case. I think it’s pretty great.

Buy it $150

The Winner

This one’s easy. For taking underwater photos, the PhotoProX wins. The other two cases have crappy plastic covers over the iPhone lens which add a lot of blur and flare, especially when you bring salty water and sun tan lotion into the mix.

It’s also the most fun to use, and is the only case where you get positive feedback when using the volume switch as a shutter release.