Last summer, I wrapped my iPhone 5 in a waterproof case built by Optrix. This past week, I did the same for an iPhone 5s, and I’m convinced that it’s the best lightweight, reasonably affordable waterproof iPhone case on the market. The new kid on the block is the Optrix PhotoX. It’ll fit all variants of the iPhone 5 line (including the new iPhone 5c and 5s), and for $100, it creates the cheapest, most accessible underwater shooting rig for any beach holiday… assuming you already own an iPhone, of course. To keep this brief, I’ll hit the pros and cons below.
- It’s light. This is vital for keeping your carry-on as nimble as possible.
- It’s rugged. I dropped it on solid concrete on a number of occasions and it handled the bumps with poise.
- You can actually use your phone. This is huge — the plastic screen that sits atop your phone’s display requires a tough touch, but it recognizes taps and swipes with remarkable accuracy. Many cases only grant you access to your phone’s camera controls, but this case enables you to utilize every single function.
- It ships with a few lens attachments. The “0” lens — the one that doesn’t distort or augment anything — is my favorite.
- It ships with a leash, which is awesome for not losing this thing while swimming around in murky waters.
- It supports a wealth of accessories, enabling you to strap your protected iPhone onto a bicycle, a snowboard, etc.
- The augmented lenses (zoom, fisheye, and macro) lead to imaging results that are less than ideal. Most of the images I took using them ended up washed-out (see photo gallery above).
There really aren’t a lot of downsides here for those in search of a waterproof iPhone case. $100 may strike you as pricey, but compare that to any case for a single, dedicated camera. Waterproof enclosures across the industry aren’t cheap, as it turns out. The iPhone 5s’ camera is advanced enough to take completely acceptable underwater imagery provided the aqua you dive into is clear enough, and if you’re planning an excursion, having something like this will no doubt enable you to grab a few more shots than you’d otherwise be able to.