Lifeproof Fre Power Review

The Lifeproof Fre Power provides both rugged protection and double the battery life of your iPhone 6, but you’ve got to be willing to put up with some compromises along the way.

Lifeproof Fre Power: On the plus side

Lifeproof’s Fre (technically frē, but who has time for that?) case was already one of the better highly protective cases you could buy for iPhones, and one that I’ve revisited through a couple of iPhone generations. When the company recently announced the Lifeproof Fre Power, I was interested to see how it would stack up, given that Lifeproof’s general selling argument has been in protective cases, not battery packs.
See also:
iPhone 6 Case Reviews: Lifeproof, STM, PADACS, Belkin, Tech21, 3SIXT, Otterbox
Mophie Juice Pack Plus For iPhone 6 Review
From the outside, there’s no denying the Lifeproof Fre Power’s history, as it’s visually all but identical to the previous Fre generations. Lifeproof provided me with a white model case to test, but they’re also available in blue and black tones if that suits your sense of style.

Protection is the name of the game.
Protection is the name of the game.

The big thing about Lifeproof’s cases is their rugged design. Once properly tested and snapped into place around your iPhone 6, they provide a claimed waterproofing capability of up to 2 metres for 2 hours, drop proofing for up to 2 metres and enclosed against dust and snow when fully sealed. A front screen protector keeps the display safe, while allowing TouchID to work.
I can’t say I’ve tested the Lifeproof Fre Power to the point of destruction, mostly because I’d be wary of hitting anything with a battery inside with a hammer too many times, and, frankly, the cost of a replacement iPhone in Australia is rather high right now. From a couple of weeks of using the Lifeproof Fre Power, however, it’s definitely on the money when it comes to smaller spillages, knocks and bumps, including a few accidental drops while moving house onto direct concrete. In that respect, the Lifeproof Fre Power acquits itself nicely.
Short tap to show battery status, long tap to actually charge your iPhone 6.
Short tap to show battery status, long tap to actually charge your iPhone 6.

On the battery front, the interior of the Lifeproof Fre Power case includes a lightning connector that feeds out to a microUSB connector on the base of the case, covered by a flap. This allows you to charge both the phone and battery from a microUSB cable. Four indicator lights on the rear of the case show the current battery status at a tap of the only button on the rear of the case. A longer tap engages the battery to charge the iPhone 6 within. It’s rated as a 2,600mAh battery, which means it should provide an extra 100 per cent of battery life.
My own tests, both formal and anecdotal back this up well, although for whatever reason, the iPhone 6 never actually hits that 100 per cent mark if you’re retentive about such things.

Lifeproof Fre Power: On the minus side

There’s no way to make a thin and light smartphone notably rugged without adding some significant bulk. The Lifeproof Fre Power is no exception. It measures in at 155.19×78.74×16.76mm, meaning it takes up a lot more pocket space than a naked iPhone 6. Even without an iPhone 6 installed, it weighs in itself at 122.92g, and if you’re used to an iPhone 6 by itself, or with a slender case onboard, it’s quite a bulky proposition to get accustomed to.
It can also be rather hard to install onto your iPhone 6. You definitely don’t want to leave any gaps, but installing the phone into the case can end up as a game of catching and clicking down sections in order to retain the entirely sealed nature of the case itself. Lifeproof does suggest that before installation, you assemble and drown the Lifeproof Fre Power to test its waterproofing chops before risking your iPhone. This is good advice, but you’ve also got to remember to seal your phone properly in there even if it does pass the phone-free test.

Very few products advise you to deliberately drown them prior to use.
Very few products advise you to deliberately drown them prior to use.

The Lifeproof Fre Power uses external buttons to connect to the iPhone 6’s volume buttons and mute switches, and, like their predecessors they’re rather mushy and indistinct. It’s particularly problematic for the mute switch, which often fails to flick the underlying switch correctly when tapped on. Like its predecessors, you’re also stuck using an external supplied headphone socket adaptor to plug headphones in, hidden underneath a small screw.
Everything's sealed down, which makes sense in terms of protection, but makes port access quite tricky.
Everything’s sealed down, which makes sense in terms of protection, but makes port access quite tricky.

The Lifeproof Fre Power’s screen protector is also problematic, as it sits ever so slightly above the iPhone 6 screen itself. That means that you don’t always get true touch responses when typing, browsing the web or even playing games. This isn’t something that renders your iPhone 6 inoperable, but it’s noticeable and annoying.

Lifeproof Fre Power: Pricing

The Lifeproof Fre Power sells in Australia at an RRP of $179.95. We’re actually getting quite a good deal there compared to the US, where it sells at $129.95; after current exchange rates and GST that should perhaps sit more at the $189 price point or thereabouts. It’s currently only available direct through Lifeproof’s web site.

Lifeproof Fre Power: Fat Duck Verdict

The Lifeproof Fre Power sits in direct competition to battery cases such as the Mophie Juice Pack Plus For iPhone 6, although they serve slightly different purposes. The Mophie has a bigger battery — 3300mAh to the Lifeproof Fre Power’s 2,600mAh — but it’s nowhere near as protective as the Lifeproof Fre Power is.
That being said, there’s still some leftover elements from the Fre design that I do wish Lifeproof would address. In some ways they already do with the slightly superior Nuud case, but there’s no sign as yet of a Lifeproof Nuud Power case. Until that turns up, if you need both a battery boosting case and a lot of inbuilt protection, and can put up with slightly quirky controls by way of compromise, then the Lifeproof Fre Power is a solid choice.

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