Smartphones have become more powerful than ever with larger displays and more powerful processors and even better cameras. Unfortunately, the one thing that still hasn’t been improved on much is their resilience to damage, meaning that they have to be coddled like a Faberge egg everywhere you go and woe betide you if you drop it or worse, end up inadvertently encountering a dip in the water which is where something like LifeProof’s armoured Fre casing comes into the picture.
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is one of the most beautiful and powerful phones ever made and it’s even water resistant too with an IP68 rating though it’s primarily made of glass which means that things won’t end well if it encounters terminal deceleration trauma with a hard surface. While many bumper cases can protect against modest drops, few are able to do that and also render the phone waterproof too which is what Lifeproof’s Fre case for the Galaxy S8+ is able to do.
The casing comes in one of three different colours though ours came in an eye catching shade of purple and turquoise. When properly applied and sealed, the Lifeproof Fre case is able to offer additional resilience and protection to the Galaxy S8+. To wit, it’s rated as dirtproof, dropproof at up to two meters to the deck and waterproof for up to one hour in two meters of water with all the hatches battened down. It’s also incidentally snowproof but seeing the odds of encountering that phenomena in this neck of the woods, you will be unlikely to ever need that protective aspect of the LifeProof Fre.
Build and Installation
In terms of design, the LifeProof Fre casing proves to be very grippable while adding minimal thickness to the Galaxy S8+. The LifeProof Fre comes out of the box as a two piece casing made of rubber and polycarbonate that sandwiches the S8+ in between them to form a complete seal.
The casing has cutouts for the rear camera and fingerprint reader. These cutouts, along with the front display are all sheathed in a tough transparent plastic to completely seal the phone in a protective armoured layer.
The sides of the casing have raised buttons that correspond to where the S8+ buttons would be and the base of the phone has a latchable port that snaps on to ensure a watertight seal while still allowing for access to the USB Type C port. The casing is also compatible with wireless chargers so you’re able to juice the phone without having to resort to wired charging.
The casing also adds a slightly raised lip on the edges of the casing edging the touchscreen that ensures that the screen does not contact a flat surface even when placed face-down. It was a pleasant surprise that the LifeProof Fre offered such a precise, snug fit for the S8+ even with its curved display and installing it was simply a matter of snapping both pieces together. Removing it requires a bit of muscle grease and care but it’s not something particularly difficult.
In The Field
When put to the test the LifeProof Fre casing provided significantly more protection than most casings on account of being completely sealed once the latch at the bottom is properly stuck on. When used over the course of several weeks, it did not impact the pocketability of the S8+. Charging it wasn’t a problem either as the latch opened easily and the casing was compatible with wireless charging.
While there were concerns, the front transparent plastic sheet layering the touchscreen of the S8+ did not impede the clarity or responsiveness of the display and the S8+functioned in its usual responsive manner. Another potential complication with a sealed casing – sound quality – was also handled in an able fashion with strategically placed ports where the speaker grilles are on the S8+. We tested calls on speakerphone, normal voice calls and a few movies with the casing on and experienced no problems with sound quality.
Astute users will note that the Galaxy S8+ is already water resistant but the addition of the LifeProof Fre adds additional resistance and endurance to the phone, making extended underwater photography for an hour or so a possibility. Cursory field tests involving a drop to the pavement with the casing on from waist height and several dips in the pool with the latch battened down did not affect the casing in the slightest.
The LifeProof Fre isn’t cheap by any means but it’s a price worth paying for as it adds significantly more survivability to the phone and offers peace of mind. Think of it as insurance as it costs scads more to replace a busted display and the fact that it adds in a measure of waterproofing too is icing on the cake. The LifeProof Fre is also available for the slightly smaller Galaxy S8 as well and has identical protective properties for a bit less up front.
WHAT WE LIKED All-around protection for the Galaxy S8+, allows for wireless charging, easy to install
WHAT WE DIDN’T Not many colour choices, somewhat challenging to remove
WE SAY Quality doesn’t come cheap and the Lifeproof Fre adds significant peace of mind to a Galaxy S8+ as it adds a measure of additional waterproofing and enhanced resistance to drops.
Price Galaxy S8+ USD89.99 / Galaxy S8 USD79.99
Drop height 2 meters
Waterproof depth 2.2 meters for 1 hour
Size/Weight 173 x 85 x 15mm / 41.9g
*Review unit courtesy of Otterbox Asia
Available in Malaysia from Lifeproof Asia