The first thing any iPhone owner should buy is a protective case. There are cases that add minimal protection along with style. There are military grade cases that look ugly but make an iPhone all but impervious to physical harm. The $79.99 Lifeproof Next aims at the middle ground, offering more protection than most –including a claim of being drop-proof, dirt-proof and snow-proof– in a case that has a little style. You can even customize your look by choosing from versions with different colored rubber bumpers.
The Lifeproof Next is available for the Samsung Galaxy S9 series, Apple iPhone X, and the iPhone 7 and 8 series. I tested the version made for the iPhone 8 Plus and 7 Plus, with a Beach Pebble (light gray) bumper.
Protection, But Not Bulkier
Protection is relatively easy to pull off. There are dozens –if not hundreds– of protective cases for the iPhone. The trick is to offer a high degree of protection without turning the svelte iPhone into a bulky, heavy, brick. If you take the case off because it makes your iPhone too big to comfortably carry around and use, you’re getting zero protection. Plus you’re out the cost of the case that’s now shoved in a drawer.
Lack of bulk is one of the key selling points of the Lifeproof Next. I think Lifeproof’s description of a “slim, sleek profile” is maybe a little optimistic. Still, at 0.45-inches thick and 1.73 ounces (for the iPhone 8 Plus and 7 Plus version) it’s trimmer than many alternatives.
Installation is a matter of setting the iPhone with screen facing up in the main case half, then securing the trim layer, which snaps firmly into place. Once installed, there’s a notch in one corner where an included plastic pick can be inserted to work the two halves of the case apart.