Travel Tech

Waterproof Case fits All iPhones

DryCase is the best universal accessory I have found to simply and quickly waterproof any version of iPhone.  I’ve been searching for awhile to find a waterproof or water-resistant option for shooting pictures and videos with my iPhone.  DryCase not only offers clear image quality both in and out of water, but it also has a few tricks that other similar case’s lack which enables users to fully utilize their iPhone’s potential in any water situation.  As with most iPhone accessories, DryCase isn’t perfect, but, having tested it in the river and in the ocean, DryCase has become my choice for waterproofing my mobile device.

I was first turned on to DryCase by Cameron of OffYonder.com.  Stumbling upon the company at The Outdoor Retailers Show, the demonstrator showed Cameron the case locking in an iPhone, making a airtight seal, and tossing the phone in the water.  I was interested and tried to find out more information about the case, but what I found were a lot of reviews praising DryCase without any first hand notes.  I had to try it for myself.

This was the most terrifying product test I have ever done.  Even though I had read a lot of positive reviews, if anything went wrong, I’d be up a sunk, so I was worried.   While I could splash it with water and see if it stayed dry, since I want to be able to shoot underwater, there really  there really wasn’t a way to get my feet wet without going all the way.  So, I sealed my phone in and dropped it into a river.  It survived, and so I did it again.  What came back was crystal clear videos of the riverbed.

How does DryCase work?

DryCase is essentially a clear sack that opens much like a sandwich bag.  The iPhone is placed inside* and two latches at the top are twisted closed.  At the other end of the case, there is a nozzel onto which a small rubber pump is placed.  Once attached, squeezing the pump removes air from the bag, solidifying the airtight seal.  When all the air is removed, DryCase is ready for use.

What I appreciate most about the DryCase design is that it makes sense.  Dropping a device in the case and sealing it are steps that I can see working, and, when all the air is visibly out, it’s logical to me that my iPhone is protected.  Even for me, worried about dunking my iPhone, physically creating the airtight seal myself and not having to worry about additional flaps or compartments made me more comfortable using the product.  Having tested a number of waterproof cameras, with their numerous seals and doors, I usually spend a few minutes double checking that everything is closed and still don’t always trust it.  Here, when I see that air can’t get it, I’m convinced.

*Tip: Sometimes it can be difficult to slide the phone all the way down to the bottom of the bag.  Although not necessary for operation, if you are wanting to slide your phone all the way down or if you are sealing in a larger object, reaching in and opening the bag, then holding it upside down as you insert your object helps to keep bottom of the bag open and makes sliding the device in easier.

I think it’s important to point out that DryCase isn’t the only ‘bag’ style waterproofing option on the market for iPhones, but, by adding a headphone jack and sports belts, it has separated itself from its competitors.  First, DryCase offers a waterproof audio and mic output that is as simple to use as the iPhone’s native jack.  While this makes it possible to listen to The Little Mermaid soundtrack while snorkeling, I think the far better use is to pump up lap swimming with some high energy workout music.  This workout ability leads to the next benefit, sports straps.

Keeping the case attached comfortably in both relaxed and strenuous situations, makes the sports straps far superor to competitor’s options.  For most of the other ‘bag’ style alternative, the only way to keep ahold of the case is through a lanyard, and, unless your iPhone is also a backstage pass, this makes a somewhat awkwardly shaped accessory even more, well…dorky.  Having a armband and waistband, means that your device can be held in a style similar to many dry accessories, snug to the hip or arm.  What I love about these bands though is that they make my iPhone’s camera accessible to me while staying hands free.  With the case strapped to my arm, I can paddle out into the surf and catch a wave like normal, then casually reach over to turn on or off the camera.  This handsfree ability is a great, cheap alternative to a GoPro in many situations.

The DryCase isn’t perfect. While I was able to fully submerge my iPhone, capture clear images underwater, and pull it out fully dry, I did run into a few problems with the case that users should be aware of.

  • The touchscreen can be problematic: When kayaking, my hand and the case got wet and cold, and it became difficult for me to activate the touchscreen (mainly sliding to unlock the homescreen).  While this may only be a minor problem, when trying to capture the seal swimming beside your boat, it’s frustrating.  Tip: When sealing in your iPhone, make sure the audio cord is off the face of your phone and that there aren’t any bubble or crinkles across the touchscreen.
  • Place the phone with purpose: When putting the phone in the case, make sure to leave both the lens and touchscreen clear.
  • Watermarks ruin pictures: If water droplets stick in front of the lens, your pictures will be blurry.  Take special care to clear the lens if you are shooting in and out of water.
  • Light reflection: DryCase’s clear material reflects sunlight, especially when wet.  Unless you are looking at the screen directly, the image you are shooting can be difficult if not impossible to see.
  • Sand ruins everything: Keep DryCase away from sand.  While I’m not sure if this is a DryCase policy or not, little grains of sand can work their way into the case and ruin the seal.  This was only a problem for me when I was attempting to bury the case in the sand.

DryCase’s simple design and straightforward application make it a great answer to protecting an iPhone from water.  Furthermore, with the added utilities, DryCase separates itself from its single use counterparts making it case that is fit for surfing the web, listening to music, and capturing moments all while underwater.  It’s cases like DryCase that help make multi-use devices such as iPhones a stronger option for consumers than point-and-shoot cameras*.

*Although I didn’t test out the depth, DryCase claims to stay watertight for 100 feet.  Even if it’s only waterproof a quarter of that distance, 25 feet, it offers better performance than many waterproof cameras.