• Brand: Lifeproof
  • Model: NÜÜD and FRĒ
  • RRP: $129.99 & $109.99 Respectively

In this day and age many of us have expensive high tech gadgets, that we carry on our person. In a lot of cases, tablets are one of these items that we take with us to school, work, or even a friend’s house to watch some movies on. Some of us require the best protection at an affordable cost – something that can protect our expensive devices from water, dust and the occasional knock. Lifeproof is a American company, based in San Diago, which creates products which do just that. Today I am taking a look at two cases, the nüüd and frē, both of which are boasted to offer you some of the best protection for iPad Airs, without compromising the user experience.

Essentially the two cases we are looking at today are pretty much the same, albeit with one major difference, which can effect the user experience quite significantly – the frē features a clear plastic membrane which covers the screen of iPad and the nüüd has a water tight seal around the glass, resulting in uninterrupted touch screen experience.

Let’s take a closer look:

Both cases come in two attractive boxes, which have a hinge on the side allowing you see the cases through a plastic window. The nüüd case, has an extra graphic highlighting the lack of a protective screen over the touch panel – yet still remains waterproof.

Both cases come with a tool to open/close the cases, some screen wipes and a little guide on how to use the case. The nüüd also comes with a blue panel, which acts as part of a water tightness test kit – more on that later though.

The nüüd comes with a piece of moulded plastic, which you use as a test piece before using the case on your iPad.

Both cases have a black surround with a clear plastic back (and in the case of the fre – a clear plastic membrane on the front).

Feature-wise, both cases are very similar. They both have water tight charger ports:

and a waterproof 3.5mm jack:

The camera has a special cover allowing you to use the camera even if submerged in water. The cases still allow you to access the buttons on the sides, the mute toggle and the lock/power button.

The the nüüd case has no plastic screen cover, instead it opts for a watertight seal around the glass front of the iPad. This rubber seal allows you to use the screen unhindered, whilst keeping the water/dust out.

Of course the only point of entry for water and dust is the home button, however this has been accounted for, by arranging the rubber seal around the home button as you can see below.

Both cases are very easy to fit, it simply clicks together and tightens with small clasps, which you use the tool for. The nüüd comes with a plastic mock iPad, which you can use to test out the water tightness of the case before putting your expensive iPad Air inside.

The standard plastic surround is very thick and has rubber edges, which help you grip the case when wet and add another level of drop protection. On the nüüd, there is slightly more of the front black surround, due to it covering the home button and it requiring more space to create the waterproof seal.  The clear plastic back offers even more protection, whilst not interfering with the Apple logo – which people seem to hate doing and all the ports are covered from water ingress.

Both cases come with clear, simple instructions to assemble them, with both supplying a little tool to fit them. These cases are of course only tailored to the newer iPad Air, so it will not fit other cases. Having now used both cases out in the field, I have experienced both the positive and negative aspects of the cases. Let’s start with the nüüd: I love how it offers complete protection from water and dust without impeding the feel of the touchscreen. Many covered screens seem to lose the nice smooth feeling to them. However, everything I chucked the iPad in my bag, I had to always make sure nothing was rubbing against the screen – afterall there is no protection whatsoever here – unlike on the frē. The case does not add too much weight, but adds a great deal of protection. My colleague was quite happy throwing my iPad across the room to test it’s impact protection – and yes it survived without a scratch! Using the ports was required a little more effort, although this was nothing considering the case is almost bomb-proof.

I can admit it was very daunting at first, when I dropped the iPad into the bath – I had however tested the cases before, without the iPad inside. Both cases were great – not a molecule of water made it inside, although I must confess, I felt a lot happier with the frē, offering 100% coverage of the iPad.

Overall both the frē  and the nüüd offer fantastic protection without compromising the look (and feel) of the iPad. At the end of the day it is down to your personal opinion over which case you prefer – with the nüüd having a bare screen. In my case, I felt a lot more comfortable using the nüüd’s brother, as it had that extra bit of protection for the screen – no one likes scratches at the end of the day. I do love the concept of the nüüd however, and how it makes use of the already fantastic screen, to create a watertight seal. Price-wise, the nüüd comes in at $20 more than the frē ($109.99), which is most likely down to the extra manufacturing costs creating that watertight seal. I must point out, that there is an optional (+$39.99) portfolio-style screen cover, which can attach to either case to add further protection and a stand – perhaps this could make an ideal partner for the nüüd.

I don’t normally give out awards for overviews, but I must stay I am thoroughly impressed with the nüüd and it’s bare “nude” screen, so I am very happy to give it the:

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