Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Snow Lizard - SLXtreme 5 iPhone case

Attentive readers may recall the Kickstarter for the rugged, batter and solar powered phone case, the SLXtreme that I covered a while ago. You may also recall how I took it on the Tough Mudder twice last year but it didn't survive the second attempt.

The hinge cracked and I had some water leakage into the unit, temporarily shorting out my phone, and killing the unit. I was sad, because it was otherwise a great piece of kit, but I also realised that I had put it through a pretty arduous test for a phone case.
However, undaunted, when I saw that Snow Lizard had gone on to make a case for the iPhone 5 (which I had subsequently upgraded to) I got in touch with them to let them know that I was keen to put it through its paces, and they kindly sent me a replacement, in the form of the new and improved SLXtreme 5. In safety orange no less.

It features all the same aspects as the previous model: latch-locking top opening, press-button battery-check and solar power switch, 2,550 mAh battery, membrane speaker

and mic covers, rugged buttons for volume and "home" buttons, a lanyard loop, capacitive touch-screen membrane.  It also sports a thumb-screw bottom sealing latch, and an access port for both USB charging and for the headphone jack. Forward and read-facing camera ports allows for photo and video capture and selfies.

There had been significant improvements as well.The in-built battery is 550 mAh larger in capacity over the "4" version.
 The bottom access port is now tool-free access (even though previously all you needed was a coin), the main latch is now a two-part metal, rather than polycarbonate.

The most exciting new feature however was the headphone jack socket and adapter. With an o-ring sealed plug, and matching sealed adapter, it is possible to have the phone safely cocooned and waterproof, as well as having access to headphone and mic jacks, a feature I've missed since my yellow Walkman days

As with the previous model, the SLXtreme 5 is rated at IP-68 with an operational depth of two meters, so in theory you can take SLXtreme anytime you are in or around water. It doesn't float, however, so I kept mine well attached to myself with a lanyard of paracord. This "open" shot gives you an idea of the engineering used in this cases creation, and it certainly paid off.

having access to the USB port (not the Lightning port of the phone, mind) allows you to charge the phone and its built in battery, but not synch, as far as I can tell.
The main port includes optically clear and easy to clean lenses, padding and improved closing latches, as well as hinges, substantially stronger in design than the previous model, I was pleased to see.

The solar panel was also improved, with a more matte finish to the surface, and what looked to be improved collector crystals internally.

The finish and the feel of the case as a whole was a lot more refined, and with the extra metal hardware, and the changes to the bottom panel, I was really impressed with the design improvements the Snow Lizard team had put into the next model.

When I took the plunge, (so to speak), and took my phone in its new case into the warm waters of Fiji, I knew I was going to give it a good test. With its "2m" depth rating, I was trepidatious  about how it would survive the trip, but as you can see, it worked wonderfully.
I had to remind myself a few times to use the buttons to control photo operation, as the main screen doesn't work under water, but I was able to switch between still and video controls on the surface easily enough, with just a flick of the wrist to clear water from the surface.

I found that the edges were a little tight, when dealing with water droplets, for dexterous screen manipulation, but the macro-control I needed worked just fine. The phone was bone-dry after almost an hour in the water (and subsequent jet-ski back to the resort), and the footage turned out really well.

All in all, I am thoroughly pleased with my replacement SLXtreme 5 case, and would highly recommend them to anyone who wanted to do some wet and wild filming, mapping, long distance phone calls and catching up on your favorite Apocalypse Equippedness blog from a beach-side or mountain-top retreat with their trusty iPhone.


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