Here at t3chniq, we’ve brought you countless phone case reviews. Well today is a new day and therefore a new iPhone 5 case review. In the past we have reviewed some cases from Seidio and other brand’s waterproof case so it only seems fitting that we show you Seidio’s new waterproof offering, the OBEX. Read on to see if the OBEX is the only iPhone 5 case you’ll ever need
With the cost to replace modern smartphones easily exceeding $500 or more off-contract, people are becoming more vigilant in protecting their phone from scratches, drops and spills. Cases have featured drop and scratch protection for some time now, but water-resistant and waterproof cases are in demand. Before, you would be lucky to find anything better than a plastic bag to waterproof your phone but now almost every case manufacturer has a waterproof case line. We at t3chniq have been impressed with Seidio’s case offerings in the past so it’s only fair to put the OBEX through its paces and see how it performs.
One of the main reasons you put a case on your phone is for some sort of impact protection, Right? One small drop from pocket height will most likely turn that beautiful Retina display into a spider-webbed mess. Looking at the OBEX you might think that just having a hard plastic shell wouldn’t provide much protection and the case itself would probably break with a drop from just a few feet. After several weeks of using the case and putting it through the usual day-to-day bumps and even a few substantial drops from about pocket-height I can say that the case more than just survives.
While many cases stop at just impact protection, this one goes steps further. While drops are probably the most common smartphone perils, water damage must be a close second. Whether you are afraid of spilling your soda on your phone at lunch or want to take your phone swimming with you, the OBEX has you protected. The OBEX has a built in screen protector and special membranes over the speakers that keep water out but still let the sound pass through. When the silicone plugs are in place over the lightning, headphone and silence switch ports, the phone is completely sealed from any sort of liquid (or even dust and dirt for that matter.) This case has seen plenty of time in the shower and even submerged in the hot tub and has yet to leak a drop of water. I should also note here that the OBEX doesn’t float. This shouldn’t be a problem for most and seeing as the waterproofing is only rated for 2 meters you’d probably have bigger problems than just diving to the bottom of the lake to recover your phone.
The OBEX is only waterproof if the silicone plugs are firmly inserted in the lightning, headphone and silence switch ports. If any of these ports is not properly sealed, you will likely turn your iPhone into an expensive paperweight. Keeping them closed when you’re not using them is the best way to prevent spill damage and if you know you’re going into the pool or shower then double check all the plugs and you won’t have any problems.
The design on the OBEX makes it seem almost like an ordinary case. This is a simple looking case that allows the use of all the phones features while still adding waterproofing. Instead of having a flashy design that screams “Hey I’m huge and waterproof” the OBEX just casually does its job without grabbing any attention which is great if you’re looking for a case that you can use 100% of the time.
As far as simplicity goes, the case is a two piece shell design that you put your phone into and then press the two halves together. There is a red, silicon gasket between the two halve to seal the case but it stays within a grove on one half so you get a perfect 100% waterproof seal every time the case gets put together without having to put any thought into it. The two silicon plugs, for the silence switch and for the lighting/headphone ports stay attached to the phone when they are unplugged so there’s no fear of losing these small parts like the Lifeproof.
The case is made entirely of a black ABS plastic. Before you put the case on the phone, the two halves seem sort of cheaply made for what you pay for the case but once they are pressed together with a phone inside, it stiffens up significantly and has a nice tight feel around the phone. Around the edge of the front half of the case is a ring of soft-touch rubber for the sleep/wake, volume, and home button. I would have preferred the case to be covered entirely in the soft-touch rubber and I think having just a small amount makes for a somewhat awkward transition line on the face of the case.
In the several weeks that I’ve been using the case it has held up. This case has suffered many drops and has seen plenty of underwater time. Nothing has broken on the case and it is still 100% waterproof after several decent falls. The screen protector shows no scratches on it but the back of the case dose show some slight marring from being in the same pocket as my keys, but nothing major. This case seems like it was built to take some everyday abuse and last for the life of your phone.
Having your phone protected is one thing, but still being able to use it and all of its features is an entirely different story. The OBEX excels at retaining just about all functionality of the iPhone while it’s in the case. One major downfall of other waterproof cases is that you have to take your phone out of the case to charge it or use the buttons on the side. All of the buttons work through the case on the OBEX and all of the ports have silicone plugs that can be removed to use the lightning and headphone ports.
The built-in screen protector does a great job and despite not being adhered directly to the screen surface, it performs just as well. To prevent the screen protector from actually sticking to the screen there are a bunch of tiny dots arranged in a grid pattern. While you can use this case with an additional screen protector, I wouldn’t recommend it because the two screen protectors often stick together and leave a distracting spot on the screen. I should point out that the iPhone uses a capacitive touchscreen and because of that, the touchscreen won’t work underwater. This is not a fault of the case but just a downfall of capacitive displays in general.
An issue I have with these thicker cases is how easy it is to access the silence switch on the iPhone. Once you open the silicone plug, you have to have really small fingers or something like a pen tip to toggle the switch. This might not be an issue if you never use the switch but if you do actually use it then it might be something to consider.
Another, smaller issue I also have with thick cases is having a deep headphone port. The headphone port on the OBEX is slightly larger than the plug on the included Earpods so using those isn’t an issue. If you’re like me and have an AUX cable or headphones with a wider plug then you might run into issues. Many of the newer headphones and AUX cables are the slim design so it’s becoming less of an issue and you can always get a slim extension to make use of those wider plugs.
I have noticed the sound and ringtones coming out of the bottom speaker are quieter than a naked iPhone. Don’t expect to have your phone playing loud music out in the pool but that is a downfall of having the waterproof membrane over the speaker. Using the handset speaker wasn’t a problem and calls could be heard clearly and the party on the other line had no trouble hearing what I was saying.
If you are looking for a case that you can use to protect your smartphone from almost every scenario imaginable look no further than the Seidio OBEX. Sure there might be other cases on the market that have more impact protection or some other features, but do they combine as many features in one case as the OBEX? The OBEX is possibly one of the most versatile cases on the market today and if you’re looking to spend your money on a single case you should seriously consider buying the Seidio OBEX.
The MSRP at time of review is $79.95 and can often be found cheaper on Amazon.com.
Complete Protection- Impact Resistant, Screen Protection and Waterproofing
Durable and all phone features remain functional
Perfect for everyday use
Low profile- Not Bulky
Headphone Jack and Silence switch may be difficult to use
Limited to iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII (for now)
Low speakerphone volume
t3chniq’s final verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a case that offers an all-around, everyday solution to keeping your iPhone protected from everything including water