LifeProof LifeJacket for iPhone Review

Ideal phone protection for PWC users

LifeProof has done a pretty good job of becoming the go-to case for the active smartphone user. In the personal watercraft/boating community, you literally seem to see them almost everywhere, protecting owner’s phones from impact, water, shock…the list of potential calamities is endless. And in the process, they don’t turn your phone into some big bulky brick. One of LifeProof’s best features is that they offer all this protection while keeping things relatively slim.

If LifeProof cases have a flaw, however, it’s that they don’t float. Drop your phone and it still sinks like a rock. Even if the case is waterproof to 6.6 feet for an hour, that fact won’t do you much good if you can’t find the exact spot it went in the drink…or for that matter, drop it in water deeper than 7 feet.

LifeProof iPhone CaseLifeProof smart phone cases are waterproof, but they don’t float. That could be a problem if you drop your phone into the water on a PWC ride.

Enter an accessory aimed right at personal watercraft users – the LifeProof LifeJacket. Correction: enter an accessory aimed right at PWC owners whose brand of smartphone is from Apple. Currently, the LifeJacket is only available for iPhones 5 and 6 (as well as iPad and iPad Mini).

LifeProof iPhone Case Review

If the name LifeJacket sounds like one of those bright orange, Mae West-style PFDs from yesteryear, you’re not far off. The Lifejacket is indeed bright orange…and somewhat bulky. Made of durable, lightweight EVA foam, it wraps around your phone like a slip-on case on steroids, delivering up enough buoyancy to keep it afloat. There’s nothing high-tech. The LifeJacket simply slips over a LifeProof case’d iPhone, holding it snugly in place. In addition to the added buoyancy, the phone also gets greatly expanded drop protection. Each corner is bulked up and the foam itself is quite dense. Drop it on the dock or launch ramp and you’re chances of phone survival just increased dramatically.

LifeProof LifeJacketThough it adds quite a bit of bulk to your iPhone, the LifeProof LifeJacket will make sure you can find it if it lands in the water.

You can still access all the phone’s features. The screen area is left wide open, as are the speaker and headphone ports, along with the volume switch, on/off switch, and camera lens areas. There’s also a recessed bar at each corner around which to wrap one of two included lanyards; choose a wrist or neck lanyard style depending upon how you plan to use the phone.

Waterproof Camera Options For PWC Enthusiasts

Trust me, it works. With more than a little hesitation, I tossed my LifeJacket/LifeProof-equipped iPhone into the Gulf of Mexico and watched it rather quickly bob to the surface. The bright orange LifeJacket made it exceptionally easy to spot, a bonus considering many people may drop their phone while underway and will be retracing their path. The bulky case also proved relatively easy to hold, offering a secure grip with wet hands. To my surprise, I discovered the case even had a certain coolness factor. Stopping at a marina, numerous people who worked around the water asked me where I got it, and seemed to genuinely lust after the bright orange bulk.

LifeProof LifeJacket ProfilesBack, side and front views of the LifeProof LifeJacket.

Drawbacks? Mainly they center around that very same 8” x 4.6” x 1.6” bulk. With the case on, you can’t realistically put the phone in your pocket, although I did note if fits very nicely within a PWC glove compartment. In the latter scenario, it also simultaneously pads the phone from bouncing around in the compartment in rough water. The larger sides also proved to be a little more cumbersome when texting, but nothing you can’t work around. Finally, LifeProof cases protect the headphone jack with a screw-in plug; should you really need to access the jack while in the LifeJacket, you do have to remove the phone from the LifeJacket first, unscrew the plug, then slide it back in. I wouldn’t risk using headphones while underway, so I don’t see it as a problem.

And the obvious that’s probably already abundantly clear – you do need to own a LifeProof case already.

All in all, however, those are pretty minor disadvantages when you consider the alternative is your very pricey smartphone sinking off into the depths, smashing on the launch ramp, or simply dropping in dark water where you can’t locate it. As the saying goes, an ounce of protection…

The LifeProof LifeJacket retails for $39.99. LifeProof cases start at $79.99. For more information, visit