More often these days I find myself using the smart phone in conjunction with my bike commute. It tends to come in handy as a navigation tool, a weather forecaster, and an entertainment system for podcasts like my daily Democracy Now! or my favorite DJ mix on soundcloud.
Now we all know cycling is a simple form of transportation and shouldn’t be made more complicated with such distractions, but if your a multitasking bike rider like me, you may want your phone handy and one of the best methods of using the phone and keeping your hands occupied on more important things like operating the bicycle in traffic, is mounting it to the handlebars.
A number of companies make mounting hardware but one particular company also makes a hardcore yet light weight case for the phone, that is highly resistant to the elements and shock.
Introducing the LifeProof for the Iphone 4S.
Lifeproof is a small company based out of San Diego California. Their main goal is to provide sleek, lightweight cases that seal your phone and protect it from the elements. They’ve even taken it to the extreme by making the phone 100% water proof…That’s right, you can do underwater photography in the pool…or just protect your phone from breaks or damaging the front and back elements. The case completely seals your phone including a removable screw cover for the headphone port.
The company likes to say it protects from the 4 proofs…
Dirt, Water, Snow and Shock.
Dirt–the case is sealed and provides protection against mud, sand and grit as well as micro particles like dust which can cause severe damage to the inner electronics of your phone. Take it to the beach, the construction site or burning man and feel confident your phone won’t get scratched or damaged.
(photo by: Burning Man Dave )
Water–completely water proof up to a depth of 2 meters (6 ft) After a simple water test (without the phone) you will be able to take photos and video underwater whether its with juniors first bath, a water park or a snorkeling trip to Bermuda.
Snow–Ski the double black diamond or take video of your cousin’s first time on the ski lift as they plow into the crowd, the lifeproof case is made to handle sleet and the snowy elements.
Shock-although it’s been military tested, it won’t survive a road side bombing, but for everyday drops it tough polycarbonate frame will keep the phone intact up to a 6.6ft drop.
Now for the mounting options.
Lifeproof sells a bike mount for $39.00 that clips to most bike handlebars using a easy to remove metal clip. They also provide rings of inner rubber at various thickness to adjust to thicker handlebars.
The mount comes with a really simple to use ball mount for easy adjust ability, simple tighten the ring and rotate the case on the fly in either vertical or landscape mode.
They’ve even designed the mount with a cutout for the camera in the rear so you won’t miss that shot.
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There is also cut out holes for the speaker on the front bottom for listening to music or using the speaker phone, in case you actually talk with real human beings, I know weird. The case mounts into this rack, from the bottom and is held in place with a locking clip which can be removed with one hand.
For the most part, I am super excited about this case, especially for the handlebar mount, but there are a few drawbacks when incorporating the phone into life off the bike.
One complaint I have is not being about to use any headphones or mini plug with the phone in the case. Because of the water seal, the headphone jack on the actual phone is quite recessed in order to fit the removable screw. This small part also gets easily lost. Lifeproof has compensated with this with an adapter but then on the daily use of the phone, your walking around with this strange short umbilical cord that feels rather goosh.
I ended up foregoing the underwater aspect and hallowed out the top hole so I could always be able to insert any mini cable. I still maintained all of the waterproofing and shock for the occasional rain storm however, deep sea photography in the YMCA pool is out.
So if you are looking for a light case that is easier to get in and out of then some of the more industrial brands, this is a great option. I especially liked the easy to instal and adjust handlebar mount making me feel like I now have a high tech dashboard on my bicycle.
There are other handle bar mounts for I phones that don’t lock you into a case, but I definitely appreciate the features of the lifeproof case and how it protects my phone.
It retails for $80.00 and comes in a variety of colors.